Property management companies have to be prepared to manage a great variety of people, personalities, and the challenges that can accompany them. That includes tenants who keep everything – including trash and food – in hoarding piles throughout their rental property.
What is Hoarding?
The idea of hoarding may be fascinating. It’s certainly garnered the attention of a national audience enough to create a few popular television shows. But, what many don’t realize is that hoarding is a real disability with far-reaching implications. See the Appfolio infographic below to learn more about this disorder.
Believe it or not, hoarding is a disability protected under the Fair Housing Act. It cannot be used as a qualification criteria.
What this means for property owners and property management companies is you need to understand people who hoard, and what steps to take when addressing a problem situation before it gets too far out of hand.
Property Management Companies’ Hoarding Nightmares
You can control and protect yourself and the property against the potential issues posed by people with bad credit, criminal records, and prior eviction lawsuits. What you can’t control are the unknowns that come with every other tenant.
Take Ms. Brown in 2A, for example (names and apartment numbers have been changed, don’t worry). She moved in two years ago and seemed to be the model tenant. She was always on time with her rent, quiet and respectful, and kept to herself. But, several months ago, she stopped coming out except on the rare occasion to take out the trash. Even then, other tenants noted odd behavior, and commented on the length of time it took her to discard the bag. Sometimes she even decided not to do so and returned with it to her unit instead.
It was when her neighbor in 1A started complaining of a smell wafting through the vents that it became necessary to take action. The owner, friends, and family were utterly shocked to discover the conditions in which Ms. Brown had been living, at least for several months, if not more.
What Hoarding Looks Like in an Apartment
Mrs. Brown had stacks of items grouped in every room in her apartment. She used every available surface to stack and store a wide variety of items—from old newspapers, bills, and magazines, to boxes and boxes of toiletries and paper goods.
Even the bags of trash were sitting by the door. She said she was going to go through them to see what she could salvage.
What Rights do Property Owners and Property Management Companies Have When it Comes to Hoarders?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Hoarding is the persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. Commonly hoarded items may be newspapers, magazines, paper and plastic bags, cardboard boxes, photographs, household supplies, food, and clothing.”
While it may seem like a harmless condition, the potential threats to a rental, and especially to multifamily properties, include:
- Damage to floors where items are stacked
- Interior decay from collection of trash and other items
- Fire hazards from collection of paper goods and flammables
- Obstruction hazards that make access difficult in case of emergency
And these really just scrape the surface.
Relationships Can Help Identify Issues
Know your tenants, and talk to them regularly. Property management companies focus a lot of time on developing relationships between tenants and management, for many reasons. Mrs. Brown’s neighbors noticed a problem, and management was able to get some help and address property issues before her hoarding got too far out of hand. Does your property manager have that kind of relationship with tenants?
Contact Class A Management for more information about the importance we place on community development and creating connections with the tenants and families we serve.