Landlords always hope they end up with the very best candidates from the tenant pool, but even with screening you can occasionally end up with a less-than-perfect tenant. There are many tenants who can cause issues on your property, but hoarders present a specific challenge. Though they’ve been sensationalized on network reality shows, cases of hoarding must be treated with care and compassion. Even so, you don’t have to allow your property or unit to fall into disrepair.
Hoarding is a Mental Disorder
The first thing you must know about hoarding is that it’s classified as a mental health disorder. This is important to know because it means that hoarders are protected by the Fair Housing Act and cannot be discriminated against due to their disability. In a nutshell: you cannot evict a hoarder on the grounds of their hoarding.
So what can you do?
As always, we highly recommend a full tenant screening, background check, and checking for previous evictions. A previous eviction does not necessarily mean a tenant is a bad fit for your property, but it is important to investigate. It’s a good idea to check an applicant’s references and previous residences and talk to previous landlords about the tenant’s stay on their property. If there are red flags, you should be able to find them.
Once again, uncovering that a potential tenant is a hoarder is not necessarily a reason to pass on their application, and could in fact be illegal in your area. If the tenants themselves disclose their status, you may want to ask if they are receiving treatment for their disorder, or if they plan to. Either way, they may still be a good fit for your property.
If a tenant’s hoarding becomes an issue, there are a few other avenues to explore. While you cannot evict someone on the basis of their disability status, you may be able to find cause to evict in other places. For example, if the tenant is damaging the property, improperly storing explosive material, keeping animals in excess of local laws, or leaving food in a way that attracts mold or pests, you could have grounds to evict based on your lease agreement.
If this is the case, you should go through specific steps to ensure you’re completing your due diligence. Keep documentation of lease agreement violations and offer help, whether it’s with cleanup or with finding counseling. If these steps fall through, offer notice of their violations and allow the appropriate time to fix the problem per your local laws. If this fails, get legal advice and proceed with the eviction if there’s no solution to be reached.
To avoid this sort of issue entirely, be sure to screen tenants. We offer a full range of screening services, but if you’re looking to keep your costs down, our RentalConnect program offers property owners and landlords a great alternative to tenant screening. This service requires no on-site visit, sign-up, or membership fees, making it extra convenient. The $29.95 service fee is paid by the applicant. Available 24/7, RentalConnect is fast, easy, secure, and delivers reports needed to make an informed decision, including a credit report, a national criminal search, and a national eviction search.
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