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Renting to a Hoarder

· Palo Alto California,San Jose,Scott Safadi

As a property manager, sensitivity towards tenants and their health issues is incredibly important. When your tenant's health problems begin to conflict with your expectations of tenant behavior, though, problems can quickly arise. When renting to a hoarder, complaints from neighbors and staff can force a property manager's hand, but the situation should be handled carefully so as not to violate Fair Housing rules.

Hoarding was officially recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013. That makes hoarders part of a protected class. Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management encourages property managers to resist their initial urge to evict the tenant and instead consider employing one of the following strategies:

Conduct Inspections

Protect your property by scheduling routine inspections with the hoarding tenant. These monthly inspections don't have to feel invasive. Make a standing appointment with the tenant and keep the visits short. Keep an eye out for hazardous waste and resist the urge to police clutter. As long as the tenant is not breaking the lease in any way, they may keep their unit in the order they like.

Understanding Hoarding vs. Bad Housekeeping

Some of us are better at keeping a clean house than others. Dirty dishes in the sink and clothes on the floor may drive some folks crazy, while others see it as reasonable chaos. Hoarders, on the other hand, tend to stockpile items they feel an emotional connection to. They often leave little room for walking through rooms and instead pile items to the ceiling. Knowing the difference between someone who is a bad housekeeper and a hoarder is crucial.

Careful Conversation

If your tenant is indeed a hoarder and in violation of their lease, a sensitive conversation with the person and their family can help bring the issue to their attention. Offer concrete suggestions to clean the home up and give the tenant a reasonable deadline to make the changes. Get the agreement in writing and be sure to follow up at the agreed upon time. This is a delicate conversation and one of the most challenging a property manager will ever have. Handle it the way you would want someone to speak to your own troubled family member.

By responding to hoarding tenants with sensitivity, you'll have a better chance at helping a person struggling with a very real mental disorder.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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