TOPIC: How to deal with a hoarder?

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8430

Reasonable accomodations must be made unless they present an undue financial burden to the owner or affect life/safety issues of the community, i.e., applicant in a wheelchair ask if a large section of wall can be removed to accomodate wheelchair access. Upon maintenance inspection you find the wall is a load bearing wall and cannot be altered. In the case of a hoarder the large amount of 'stuff' filling the apartment presents a fire hazard, allowing a fire to spread faster due to large amounts of easily ignited material, creates a health hazard due to increased opportunity for roach infestations, etc...

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8431

I would consider getting a resident assistance to comply with the health and safety issues a reasonable accommodation. I am not saying the property PAY for the assistance (if the provider is not family, a friend, or a neighbor and seeking payment). I am only advocating putting the parties together or finding ways to help the resident so that the resident can remain as independent as possible and not face an eviction action.

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8432

Hoarding is not an overnight occurrence. How is that an apartment maintenance/management team gets caught off-guard by this phenomenon? If there is preventative maintenance taking place on schedule each quarter, how is it that it creeps up in your community (other than new acquisitions where you may not have walked every single unit prior to takeover.) I don't mean this to sound stupid. I am curious about this topic. I know when there are residents who don't let you in to perform maintenance inspections, they may be able to get away with this once, but not repeatedly.

One of our properties is located in a city that mandates inspections. Although there have been residents who tried legally to withhold entry, the courts ruled in the city's favor and the inspections were completed. So, please, help me understand how a disabled person can prevent maintenance and/or management from completing preventative maintenance such as changing batteries and inspecting the smoke detectors in all units.

Obviously, if this is a single family or duplex rental, I could see this may happen.
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Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8433

I was not led to believe that the OP noticed this problem as if it was an overnight occurrence. A number of issues can lead into this person just now discovering it:

1) Person new to job with predecessor not documenting known issue.
2) New management company entering unit as part of due diligence and again, the predecessor not documenting the issue.
3) New resident since last inspection/entry for any reason.
4) Existing resident not reporting maintenance issues or allowing any entry for any reason, even when given proper notice (these scare me because I never know what I am going to find; dead body, pest control issues, bedbugs).

The issue is to make sure you document any findings and, even though it may sound stupid; make sure you put copies of all correspondence and notices given to the residents IN THE FILE so that anyone (either in your company, or in the event of legal action; your attorney and/or city ordinance inspectors AND if you are subsidized or affordable, their auditors are going to want to see your files and make sure they are in order and in compliance with whatever program you may be on) can view the files and step in on your behalf.

In the event that legal action may be needed; you need to be able to document what you have done to justify it. In the event that you INHERIT an undocumented issue; you need to establish the documentation and all efforts to resolve the issue.

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8437

No, I wasn't implying that the original poster was just now finding this situation overnight or is in any way negligent of her duties. I am just thinking out loud, I guess, as to how these problems seem to creep up on people. Even families ... it is just a sad state that no one sometimes checks on their loved one or perhaps they know and don't want to hurt the person's feelings so they allow the condition to become so bad that someone could die in their surroundings and no one would know. I have watched the A&E show and it leaves me unbearably sad. I had one resident at a property who was immobile. Therefore he literally could not take his trash to the dumpster. But I figured out this problem the first time rent was due (about a week after I came on board) and I was able to get this situation under control very, very quickly. His apartment was full of paper, trash, food, mail, books, dirty clothes, etc. You can imagine. It was also full of ants and roaches. He'd been like this for years and the Maintenance Superintendent knew! I got rid of all the staff pretty quickly, too. I figured if they cared so little about the Residents they would allow those living conditions to fester, they were not the kind of people I wanted onsite. Documentation is vital to the process - true - but caring individuals are also vital.
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Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8441

I know here in Texas the lease states "The apartment and other areas reserved for your private use must be kept clean. Trash must be disposed of at least weekly." I gave a formal lease violation to the last hoarder that I had stating the paragraph of the lease, and he allowed a organizer to come help him get rid of all of the items. If not, he knows that he would have gotten an eviction notice.

Neil Bertrand wrote:
Many state leases have a provision that pertains to housekeeping and health and safety concerns. I've come across a few hoarders and the condition of the apartment created a fire hazard, blocked egresses, and sanitation issues. My first suggestion is to follow procedures outlined in your lease to have the resident correct the issue then follow through with an eviction if they're non-compliant.

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8444

I am a little confused on this topic. I see that under Fair Housing Law, hoarding is considered a mental disability. I fail to see how they arrive at that point, but it is clear from the referenced literature. OK, so we accept it as another type of disability. So to me, what must also be accepted would be the disability of the hoarder would over ride the safety laws of living in the unit, if the law allowed them to do that, to continue with the hoarding. You cannot have both.
You cannot allow "hoarding" due to the disability of the tenant, and allow violation of the safety laws at the same time.
Now enter the "reasonable accommodation clause". I would ask you what kind of accommodation could you make for someone doing what you don't allow in your units?
Are you going to build them a shed to accumulate their hoarded items in?
Persons with disabilities are in a protected class, yes. If they are mentally disabled, ie: paranoia, bipolar, etc, they can be dealt with in housing if properly medicated, have a live in caregiver, etc. If a person is a disabled due to hoarding, they need to live in a warehouse or the woods, not public housing.
Require the disabled person to present a "solution" to YOU, not YOU to them.
I would enter the unit and do a thorough inspection with a family member or contact person with me. I would give 48 hours to correct the situation, or an eviction would be warranted. You can take all the actions cited in the posts in this thread.
However in the end, you cannot have both the hoarder syndrome and the well being of your complex at the same time.

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8448

I don't think that anyone is suggesting actually allowing a resident's hoarding to continue as a reasonable accomodation (clearly NOT reasonable for so many reasons); it is more with the thought that a reasonable accomodation be in getting assistance in keeping the situation from getting beyond the point of control.

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8459

Unfortunately this issue was documented very poorly by previous management. The resident had complied enough to not be evicted. We are at the point again that it apparently has reoccured.

I will be sending a violation of lease based on the condition of the unit and the health and safety hazards it is causing for the resident and possibly to surrounding tenants.

Re:How to deal with a hoarder? 5 years 6 months ago #8465

That's exactly what I thought when you made your original post; Aprile... Sadly your predecessors did not have adequate controls in place to document and follow up on the issue and you inherited it.

In this case; I would give the resident the benefit of your predecessor's failures, but make it clear to them that you cannot allow the situation to continue or reoccur. Document this in such a way as to make sure that the resident knows AND UNDERSTANDS the consequences. What I would do is have your attorney create an actual 'housekeeping standards addendum' to your lease package that ALL residents must sign that cites specific city codes and consequences of substandard housekeeping. This way the 'problem' resident does not feel singled out.

I would connect this with a spring cleanup deal and rent out a large rollaway dumpster for a couple of weeks for residents to discard bulky items. If you have a local school that can haul away electronic waste for you and use the proceeds for their programs; then I would involve them. I would also offer a community yard sale as a resident retention activity. Roll out the grill and throw some hot dogs on the grill for the residents and charge $1.00 for non residents for a local charity (make it a homeless shelter or food bank).

There is so much you can do for your residents without being in violation of fair housing.

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