Imagine walking into your Colorado Springs rental property to complete an inspection and seeing piles, upon piles of things. Trash, knick-knacks, newspapers and more are stacked from floor to ceiling. Rooms are full of what you would consider junk, and you can barely walk through the property without knocking over mounds of stuff. Seeing all of this draws only one conclusion: your tenant is a hoarder. What do you do?
So Your Tenant Is A Hoarder
Luckily, the above scenario is isn’t too common, but hoarding is something any landlord can encounter at any point in time. It’s a touchy subject and something many landlords don’t want to think about. However, it’s always best to prepare for any and all circumstances, especially one as tricky as this.
The main takeaway is this: hoarding is a mental health diagnosis and therefore a protected class under Federal Fair Housing. While your first reaction may be to immediately begin the eviction process to get rid of your hoarding tenant, doing so without first following the proper steps will ultimately land you with a fair housing violation. So then what do you do?
Understanding Is Key
Since hoarding is classified as a mental disability and protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act, you must tread carefully when dealing with a tenant who is a hoarder. The first step is understanding that the condition is a disability and must therefore be treated with the same care and consideration as any other disability. Failure to do so could cost you upwards of $10,000 just to defend yourself in court.
Make sure to document the condition of the home, notating specific lease and code violations, and be aware of any health or safety violations that may be present. If you find that your tenant has been hoarding to the point that it has become a serious health risk, contact your local Health Department to assist. They will be able to assess the situation to see what remedies exist to help keep the tenant safe and keep the home in a clean and sanitary condition.
And most importantly, contact a local real estate attorney about how to handle the situation. They will know all of the state and federal laws that apply and can help you navigate the best course of action.