How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder


Finding out that a hoarder is residing in your rental is an extremely challenging situation for landlords and should be handled carefully. Hoarding is a mental health issue because it impairs a person’s major life activities.[1] That designation extends protections under the Fair Housing Act to hoarders and that means that a landlord simply cannot evict a tenant based on the grounds of being a hoarder.[2] Fortunately, there are ways around this for landlords so they can legally protect themselves and their property.

Part 1
Determining if Your Tenant is Actually a Hoarder

Determining if Your Tenant is Actually a Hoarder on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

1
Hoarders tend to retain a large volume items that most people would consider worthless. Make sure to look out for the following: Cooking supplies Crafting supplies Newspaper Old catalogs and junk mail Promotional items Trash and other items that should be discarded Unused clothes Old food Human waste

Determining if Your Tenant is Actually a Hoarder on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

2
Hoarders have unique behavior patterns. They might include: Keeping curtains and shades closed at all times. Not allowing people into their residence including family and repairmen. Unwillingness to return borrowed items.

Determining if Your Tenant is Actually a Hoarder on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

3
If you are able to gain access to the property, look out for signs that rooms cannot be used for their intended purpose: Bathrooms lacking sanitization. Chairs cannot be sat in. Combustible materials being stored in the fireplace. Garages that cannot store cars. Sinks and tubs cannot be used for their purposes. Some beds may be unable to be slept in.

Part 2
Taking Action

Taking Action on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

1
As a landlord, you keep as much documentation as much as possible. When you visit the property, be sure to take photos and videos of the issues. Take extensive notes when you visit. Keep copies of all communication between you and the tenant such as text messages and letters. This information will be important in the unfortunate circumstance you have to evict your tenant.

Taking Action on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

2
See if you can arrange a discounted rate for your tenant at a local self-storage facility. If you own off-site storage, consider offering to store some of their items there. Be as delicate as possible when you offer to help because hoarding is a mental disorder.

Taking Action on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

3
Provide your tenant with a written action plan. Be sure to include specific benchmarks and goals as a way to track progress. If they are able to comply with the plan, they should be able to stay in the property. If not, you have a reason to evict them.

Taking Action on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

4
Eviction is a possibility in some situations because their actions may constitute a non-economic breach of the lease. The best way is to check to see if your tenant is in breach of contract for any of the following reasons: Property damage Blocking emergency exits Interfering with ventilation systems Interfering with fire prevention systems Storing explosive materials in an unsafe fashion Storing perishable goods that could attract mold or rodents Housing animals improperly or unsafely

Part 3
Deciding if You're Going to Clean Out the Property or Sell it

Deciding if You're Going to Clean Out the Property or Sell it on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

1
Any landlord faced with this situation should assess the property and determine what exactly needs to be done. While you could do it yourself, the process is complicated and you’ll have to get your property back up to local code. If you have a background in construction and have time, cleaning out and renovating the property could be a worthwhile activity.

Deciding if You're Going to Clean Out the Property or Sell it on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

2
In some situations, your investment property may not be worth keeping any more because the damage caused by the hoarder is just going to be too expensive for you to fix. Such a property is going to be very difficult to sell with a traditional real estate agent. It could sit on the market for months or even years.

Deciding if You're Going to Clean Out the Property or Sell it on How to Handle a Tenant That You Suspect Is a Hoarder

3
Keep in mind that a cash buyer isn’t going to give you a full market price for your rental. They will pay between 60% and 80% of your property’s ARV depending on the market and the condition of your property. For example, if your property is worth $100,000, a cash buyer would offer you somewhere between $60,000 and $80,000. While it is not the best deal financially, many investors just simply would rather not deal with a time consuming clean out of their property.