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Tip #172:  Over the Top!

Hoarding — you’ve seen it on TV and heard about it in the news, but it’s hard to imagine until you actually see it up close and personal.

Imagine the shock of a Seaside, California property manager who last week discovered over one hundred dead and neglected kittens during a routine apartment inspection.

While hoarding is not common — only about 2 out of every 100 people may develop it — the consequences of having a hoarding tenant are extreme.

One of the most serious consequences of hoarding is the resulting fire danger.  Even if a fire started in anther unit, the heaps of debris from a tenant’s hoarding will quickly drive the blaze out of control.

Because hoarding is considered a mental illness, it is possible that a tenant will argue that they are disabled, and entitled to reasonable accommodation.  HUD agrees that, to the extent it is possible, the hoarder may be entitled to accommodation.

Preparation is the best tool for landlords should a hoarder become a tenant.  Make sure your lease and house rules carve out specific limitations on the number of animals, require that access routes be kept clear, balconies are free of debris, trash is picked up, and that any increased exposure to pests or other unsanitary conditions is labeled a nuisance, so the tenant is subject to eviction.

Local animal, building and fire codes can serve as guidelines.

Reasonable accommodation generally does not entail forcing the landlord to break the law, allowing one tenant to risk the health or safety of others, or causing undue financial hardship through property damage.

If you find yourself with a hoarder, document everything.  You may want to reach out to your local housing office for a list of resources available in your area.

See last week’s Landlord Quick Tip.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

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