With alarming regularity, landlords in Southern California and throughout the state, indeed across the United States, face situations involving hoarders living in their rental property. You may find yourself in this position, encountering a tenant who hoards. The stark reality is that hoarding can impact your investment or rental property in a number of ways and on a variety of levels. You need to understand some basic information and consider some key strategies associated with hoarding and your rental property. This information includes:

  • Overview of hoarding disorder
  • Specific ways in which hoarding impacts your investment property
  • Legalities of dealing with a hoarder
  • Hoarder property cleanup

Overview of Hoarding Disorder

Before diving into a discussion of how hoarding impacts your investment property and what strategies can be employed to address it, you do need to have an essential understanding of what technically or medically is known as hoarding disorder.

Hoarding disorder is defined as a persistent difficulty in discarding or getting rid of possessions of different types, according to the Mayo Clinic. A person with hoarding disorder experiences what can be severe distress at even the thought of getting rid of objects and things. These can include items of absolutely no value whatsoever, including garbage. Excessive accumulation occurs, resulting in a myriad of serious issues.

A person with hoarding disorder will not readily agree to part with accumulated items. Indeed, such an individual is apt to go to tremendous lengths to conceal that hoarding is occurring. 

Hoarding can reach a juncture at which a residence is filled with objects and things to the point that a true hazard is created.  Ultimately, a residence becomes unusable and contaminated with a variety of biohazards that can include human waste, rotting food, and other matter. 

Specific Ways in Which Hoarding Impacts Your Investment Property

Having a tenant with hoarding disorder impacts your investment or rental property in a number of different ways. These include:

  • Biohazardous contamination of the premises
  • Physical damage to the building structure 
  • Damage to the reputation of the property
  • Lost revenue

Biohazardous Contamination of the Premises

As mentioned a moment ago, hoarding can result in the presence of serious biohazards in a rented residence. Because substances like human feces and urine, rotting food, dead animals, and the like can accumulate within a residence where hoarding occurs, significantly dangerous biohazards necessarily exist. These include dangerous pathogens like disease-causing viruses and bacteria.

Due to the nature of these biohazards, hoarder property cleanup demands the use of personal protective equipment. Moreover, in order to address a biohazardous situation associated with hoarding, specialized chemicals, equipment, tools, and other resources is vital to ensure the safe and thorough remediation of these hazards. In nearly all situations, a typical landlord simply doesn’t have the full spectrum of resources needed to undertake the biohazard remediation associated with a hoarding situation. Thus, and as is discussed shortly, engaging a professional hoarder property cleanup company typically is the recommended course of action to take.

Physical Damage to the Building Structure

Because of the nature of hoarding, ultimately the physical structure of a rental unit will be damaged, oftentimes significantly. In addition, appliances that come with the property are likely to be damaged or otherwise left in an unworking condition. Consequently, in the aftermath of a hoarding tenant, repair work and replacement of appliances will need to be done at the rental property. 

Damage to Reputation of the Property

If hoarding becomes known, or if a prior hoarding situation requires disclosure to a prospective tenant for one reason or another, the fact that a hoarder lived in a rental unit can damage the reputation of the property. As an aside, a landlord might have to disclose a prior hoarding situation if the hoarder caused certain types of dangerous substances to be at or in the premises.  

This type of scenario might make a property where hoarding occurred difficult. With that said, a landlord can minimize the extent of such fallout by engaging the services of an experienced hoarder property cleanup company, as is discussed in greater detail in a moment. 

Lost Revenue

As is noted at different points throughout this presentation, a landlord faces what can amount to a significant amount of lost revenue. A landlord is capable of minimizing the extent of lost revenue by being as proactive as possible in remediating a situation involving a hoarding tenant.

Legalities of Dealing With a Hoarder

There are some important legalities to bear in mind when you have a tenant that hoards. One legal issue is the impact a hoarding tenant has on other tenants. If you have a multiunit property, your other tenants have a legal right to what is known as the quiet enjoyment of their residences. What this means is that other tenants have the legal right to live without being disturbed in an inappropriate manner, including by another tenant. 

A tenant that hoards can end up interfering with another tenant’s ability to enjoy his or her rental unit. For example, a hoarding tenant in an apartment building can cause foul odors to waft into neighboring units. A landlord has a legal obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent this type of situation and to remedy it when it occurs.

A landlord nearly always has a legal basis to evict a tenant that hoards. The type of behavior exhibited by hoarding, and the harm hoarding does to the premises, is nearly always a violation of the terms of a typical residential lease agreement. As a consequence, a landlord is able to commence eviction proceedings against a hoarding tenant.

A landlord very well may be left paying the bill for hoarder property cleanup in a rental unit initially. With that said, a landlord has the legal right to sue a tenant for the costs associated with hoarder property cleanup. 

Hoarder Property Cleanup 

As mentioned previously, a hoarding situation can result in the presence of biohazardous waste in a rental property. In addition, actually cleaning up a property where hoarding occurred is in and of itself a herculean task even without the need to address biohazardous waste.

Because of the safety issues and absolute necessity for hoarder property cleanup to he comprehensive and thorough, the best course for a landlord to take is to hire an experienced, professional, and reputable hoarder property cleanup company. A hoarder property cleanup company will provide a reliable estimate for services upfront and will ensure that the premises are restored to a livable – and rentable – condition.