Ascertaining how many people in California and across the United States suffer from what medically is known as hoarding disorder is a challenging endeavor. The best estimate is that between 3 to 5 percent of the population of adults in the country suffer from hoarding disorder. Although some hoarders live in homes that they own, others live in rental properties. The reality of hoarding disorder raises the important question of what rights are possessed by property managers when it comes to a tenant believed to be a hoarder.

The four most fundamental rights of a property manager when it comes to a tenant that hoards are:

  • Right to protect the rental unit from damage
  • Right to protect other tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment of their units
  • Right to enter a tenant’s unit
  • Right to pursue eviction proceedings for material lease violations.

Responsibilities of a Property Manager

A property manager has important responsibilities to three classifications of people. These are:

  • An individual tenant that hoards
  • Neighboring tenants
  • Property owners

The rights of a property manager when it comes to dealing with a tenant that possibly is afflicted with hoarding disorder stem from these various responsibilities.

Right to Protect the Rental Unit From Damage

A property manager is vested with the legal and contractual right to protect a rental unit from unnecessary damage. When residential property is rented, what is known as “normal wear and tear” is expected. What is not acceptable is a tenant who engages in activities that result in unnecessary damage to a rental unit.

In order to protect against damage to a rental unit, a property manage has the right to seek reasonable access to the premises to inspect and address a situation that improperly presents the risk of damage to the premises. Barring a true emergency situation, a property manager is obliged to give reasonable notice before entering into a rental unit. What constitutes reasonable notice depends upon the facts and circumstances. In the absence of an emergency situation, 48 hours notice by a property manager that he needs to seek entry into a rental unit is likely to be deemed reasonable.

Right to Protect Other Tenants’ Rights to Quiet Enjoyment of Their Units

Tenants that live in close proximity to another renter who appears to be hoarding have an important right themselves. This is the right to what legally is known as “quiet enjoyment.” Quiet enjoyment is the legal term that a tenant has the right to enjoy a rental unit without interference from another tenant. If a tenant lives near another renter who hoards, the hoarding situation can interfere with the tenant who neighbors a hoarder and his or her enjoyment of the unit. A property manager actually not only has the right but the duty to protect other tenants against interference with their enjoyment of their units arising from the activities of another renter who is hoarding.

Right to Enter Tenant’s Unit

As mentioned a moment ago, a property manager has the right to enter into a tenant’s unit after providing proper notice. A property manager needs to have a legitimate reason to enter into the property. A legitimate reason can include scheduling an inspection of the premises to ensure that it is being appropriately maintained. If neighboring issues are dealing with rodent or insect issues, that can be a sufficient reason to gain access to a tenant’s unit.

Right to Pursue Eviction Proceedings for Material Lease Violations

If a tenant is hoarding, that behavior and situation is likely to constitute a material violation of a typical or standard lease agreement. In such a scenario, when hoarding appears to have reached a juncture that it violates the lease, a property manager can serve notice upon the tenant to rectify the issue. If the tenant doesn’t address the hoarding situation that violates the terms of the lease to maintain the premises in good repair and condition, a property manager on behalf of an owner has the legal right to initiate an eviction proceeding.

Why Detecting Hoarding can be a Challenge

A pervasive misconception associated with property managers and tenants that hoard is identifying the problem in the first instance. Because of the nature of hoarding, there are two primary reasons why it can prove challenging for a property manager to detect a tenant afflicted with hoarding disorder.

First, most hoarding tenants will strive to prevent a property manager from entering the rental unit. A hoarding tenant will even go so far as to avoid contacting a property manager when a maintenance or repair issue arises. Because a hoarding tenant will not contact a property manager when something needs attention, the property manager is likely to incorrectly include that a hoarding tenant actually is a model renter.

Second, other tenants living near a hoarder will end up with issues involving bugs and perhaps even rodents in their units. These neighboring tenants oftentimes end up with a bug or rodent problem in their units because of their close proximity to an actual hoarder. When such a situation arises, a property manager is apt to conclude that the neighboring tenants are the source of the problem and not the actual hoarding tenant who is doing his or her best to “fly under the radar.”

Assistance From a Professional Hoarding Cleanup Company

If a property manager is left having to address the aftermath of a hoarding tenant, engaging the services of an experienced, skilled professional hoarding cleanup company may be the wise course of action. A professional hoarding cleanup company has the experience and resources to safely address a hoarding situation, restoring a home or business to a useable condition.