You might be wondering how things are going with my Mom. Her hoarding has not gotten much better, but nothing has really happened to change it. The winter was very stressful. Knowing there are gaping holes in her roof and walls of her house, heating has been a serious concern. There were a number of days where the temperature was down to 45 degrees…we had a pretty brutal winter. It was actually warmer for her to go out to her car and run the heater for a while. Of course, that has it’s own concerns. Last Fall, the fire department told her they didn’t want her to spend another winter in the house, but really, where would she go?
I worried all winter long, but she found endless excuses to not come for a visit. It’s really hard to stay enthusiastic when she doesn’t seem to want to spend time with me.
To fill the radio silence, I present another guest post from Heather Roberts. She’s also written other organizational type posts for me like 5 Ways Clutter Increases Pest Infestations.
When Your Tenant is a Compulsive Hoarder
There never really is a dull moment when you deal with tenants. There are some days however when we find that our tenants may have different ideas about living standards than what we originally intended, hoarding personal belongings and more. The typical landlord has to worry about late payments, noise disputes and their busy schedule, but it gets much more complicated when a hoarder is involved.
If you manage a high volume property, or even just rent out a room in your house, you may eventually be forced to address someone with compulsive hoarding disorder.
In most cases, lease agreements will have clauses that state the need for keeping apartments and houses in good condition by the tenants. Hoarding may easily lead to obstruction of passageways and may even create unsanitary conditions. Excessive hoarding becomes a safety risk, and may lead to issues with pest control and worse. If you have this type of hoarding around your property, you could include a hoarding clause in the lease so you can set things straight from the get-go. Mentioning it in your lease will let the tenants know your expectations.
It may seem excessive, but it could save you trouble in the long run. Do keep in mind that excessive cases of hoarding are pretty rare, so you may not need to worry about it too much, but a hoarding clause will give a solid position you can fall back on when confronting an awkward situation.
(*Editor’s Note: Lease agreements are different in every city, state or province. You’ll need to check with bylaws and legal terms which are appropriate for your area.)
Dealing with a hoarder
If you DO find yourself having to confront a hoarding tenant, approach this person with sensitivity. Before you knock on their door, however, you would do well to tour the property. An alleged situation of hoarding may simply be the tenant organizing or reorganizing or even packing for a trip. If the collection of belongings lingers, grows, and begins to impede clear movement, well, then you may have a real problem on your hands. A compulsive hoarder will likely be defensive or emotional about their belongings. If you have a proper lease agreement, this is a good time to revisit it with your tenant. It might be difficult to determine if this is a case of true hoarding or simple neglect, but either way, you should still know that 30 days is usually the minimum of time you need to give your tenants to clean up before asking them to vacate the premises. This should happen only if they insist on maintaining this type of environment and they ignore your warnings and the lease agreement.
(*Editor’s Note: each case is different. This is a mental disorder, which needs to be treated appropriately. If there are safety concerns, you may also receive guidance from your local housing authority, the Fire Department, or Public Health office.)