Hoarding is a mental illness defined as the excessive saving of items that others may view as worthless, leading to clutter that disrupts living or work spaces. Hoarding can lead to the accumulation of biohazardous material, including human and animal waste, mold, and rodent droppings. Cleaning up a hoarding situation requires protection and the proper equipment, including HEPA vacuums, air filtration masks, goggles, gloves, and HAZMAT suits. Biohazardous material must be disposed of properly at a solid waste facility. Hoarding can escalate quickly, leading to difficulty in living and taking care of personal hygiene, and can attract rodents and other pests. Biohazards found in hoarding situations need to be dealt with accordingly to prevent severe illness or death. Various resources are available about hoarding cleanup, including warning signs, differences between hoarding and clutter cleanup, and the hazards of hoarding.
For landlords, maneuvering around the complex issues concerning hoarding and tenant rights can be tricky. Because of the connection between hoarding and mental illness, your tenant, by law, is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One wrong move, and you could face a lawsuit.
As a landlord, everything and anything that happens on your property becomes your problem. Hoarding affects over one million people in the US in some capacity, which means that as a landlord there is a high likelihood that one of your tenants may hoard. Due to hoarding being recognized as a mental disability, hoarders are protected under the Fair Housing Act and cannot be evicted for the act of hoarding. Though they do have rights as a tenant, if the hoarding causes a breach in the lease, that may be grounds for eviction. Many times, hoarding may cause emergency exits to be blocked, old food to attract rodents, and cause damage to the apartment or home – this would be a breach of the lease.
Hoarding is a severe problem for a large amount of people around the world. It tends to be first-world nations like the United States that have greater incidences of hoarding. This is likely because people here have acquired disposable income. The more you learn about hoarding, the more you realize that you do not have to have disposable income to become a hoarder. People often collect free and found items as part of their hoard. Over the past 50 years, the number of people who are hoarding has increased exponentially.