Imagine a room where every inch is piled high with belongings. Can you feel the walls closing in? That’s the reality for those struggling with hoarding disorder. The problem of hoarding for property managers is one of the situations they face. Hoarding disorder creates cramped and cluttered spaces. It goes beyond a messy closet or garage, presenting health risks and property damage.
According to the International OCD Foundation, an estimated 2% to 6% of the population is suffering from hoarding disorder. Notably, hoarding symptoms are nearly three times more prevalent in older adults (55–94 years) than younger individuals (34–44 years), although there is a possibility that it can manifest in children. Recognizing and managing hoarding cases is essential for property managers navigating diverse demographics in Nevada.
In this blog, we explore how property managers in Nevada can effectively address hoarding issues. We’ll cover practical strategies, legal aspects, and compassionate approaches to tackle this pressing concern.
What is Hoarding Disorder?
Hoarders often live with excessive items, regardless of their actual value. This isn’t just a penchant for clutter or disorganization; it’s a persistent difficulty in discarding possessions because they need to save them.
The American Psychiatric Association defines hoarding disorder as a mental health condition characterized by long-standing difficulty in parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items and the distress associated with discarding them.
This behavior can significantly impair various aspects of life, including:
- Home mobility
- Safe environment
- Social interactions
Unlike someone who is simply messy or disorganized, individuals suffering from hoarder disorder may have severe anxiety when attempting to declutter their living spaces.
The distinction between mere untidiness and hoarding becomes apparent through consistent observation. Property managers might notice that despite regular checks or cleaning requests, certain tenants’ units remain overrun with belongings that obstruct living areas and pose potential hazards.
Hoarders vs. Messy Tenants
“Hoarders” and “messy tenants” refer to individuals with different levels of difficulty maintaining a clean and organized living space, but the two have distinct differences.
Hoarders have difficulty parting with possessions, even those with little or no value. This behavior is driven by a strong emotional attachment to items and a fear of discarding them.
Hoarding can significantly impact the individual’s quality of life, relationships, and daily functioning. The clutter can pose serious health and safety issues, including fire hazards, pest infestations, and structural problems.
Messy tenants may accumulate clutter, but the mess is often due to neglect or a lack of routine cleaning rather than a compulsive need to save items. Their living spaces might be messy or untidy, but they may not reach the extreme levels seen in hoarding cases.
While messy living conditions can still have adverse effects on one’s well-being and living environment, it is generally not as severe or rooted in a mental health disorder as hoarding.
How to Handle Hoarding Disorder Situations
Tackling hoarding disorders requires sensitivity and firmness because this situation poses risks to the tenant and others nearby. When property management professionals suspect a case of hoarding disorder within one of their properties in Las Vegas or Henderson—known for strict codes on habitability—they should approach residents respectfully yet assertively about addressing the issue.
Addressing hoarding behavior and situations as a property manager requires a delicate and compassionate approach, as hoarding is often a complex mental health issue. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Education and Awareness
- Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of hoarding disorder.
- Understand the mental health aspects involved to approach the situation with empathy.
2. Develop Policies
- Include hoarding-specific clauses in your lease agreements that address cleanliness, safety, and maintenance standards.
- Clearly outline consequences for lease violations of these clauses.
3. Regular Inspections
- Conduct regular property inspections to identify early signs of hoarding.
- Document any cleanliness, safety, or potential property damage issues.
4. Open Communication
- Establish open lines of communication with tenants to encourage them to report concerns.
- Approach discussions about hoarding with empathy and sensitivity, emphasizing your concern for their well-being.
5. Develop an Action Plan
- Work with the tenant to create an action plan for addressing the hoarding issue.
- Set realistic and achievable goals, breaking the cleanup process into manageable steps.
6. Legal Considerations
- Consult with legal professionals to understand the rights and responsibilities of the property manager and tenant.
- Take legal action if necessary, ensuring you follow the proper eviction procedures.
How to Handle Evictions
When eviction becomes necessary due to non-compliance with lease terms related to extreme hoarding scenarios, actions must align legally under Nevada state law while ensuring fairness throughout proceedings.
To this end, landlord-tenant laws should be carefully reviewed before taking any action. Eviction should always remain a last resort after all other attempts at resolution have been exhausted.
Property managers must document interactions meticulously; evidence collected during routine inspections may be critical if the matter escalates. So, when you’re carrying out these checks, make sure to note every detail. This isn’t just about covering your bases—it’s also about creating a clear record that can help protect the property owner and tenant if any disputes arise.
Health Risks When Hoarding
Hoarding can accumulate excessive clutter in living spaces, causing various health risks. Here are some potential health hazards associated with hoarding:
- Tripping and Falling: Cluttered living spaces increase the risk of tripping and falling, leading to fractures, sprains, and bruises.
- Poor Air Quality: Piles of items can trap dust, mold, and other allergens, leading to poor indoor air quality. This can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma or allergies.
- Bacterial Growth: Stagnant air and moisture in cluttered areas create favorable conditions for bacterial growth, increasing the risk of infections.
- Vector-Borne Diseases: Pests attracted to hoarded items can transmit diseases, contributing to public health concerns.
- Stress and Anxiety: Living in a cluttered and chaotic environment can contribute to stress and anxiety, both for the individuals hoarding and those living with them.
- Isolation: Hoarding can lead to social isolation, exacerbating mental health issues and reducing access to support systems.
- Neglect of Personal Hygiene: Hoarded spaces may restrict access to bathrooms and kitchen areas, impacting personal hygiene and increasing the risk of health issues.
Damage to Property When Hoarding
Here are some potential ways hoarding can result in property damage:
- Structural Damage: Accumulating excessive items can lead to increased weight on floors and structures, potentially causing structural damage to a building.
- Blocked Exits and Entrances: Hoarding can block exits and entrances, impeding access in emergencies such as fires or other disasters.
- Fire Hazards: Hoarded materials may include flammable items or create conditions conducive to fires. Piled-up papers, cardboard, or other combustible materials increase the risk of fires.
- Water Damage: Hoarded items can obstruct plumbing systems and create conditions contributing to water damage.
Legal Considerations Related to Hoarding in Nevada
In Henderson, Nevada, hoarding can lead to legal consequences as it may be considered a public nuisance under NRS 202.450. This law defines a “public nuisance” as a crime against the state’s order and economy, encompassing acts that annoy, injure, or endanger many people’s safety, health, comfort, or peace.
If a hoarder’s property is visibly cluttered with garbage, furniture, boxes, or other hazards, it may be deemed a public nuisance, and property owners should consult a lawyer. Additionally, if the hoarding results in unsanitary conditions causing odors that affect the well-being of the surrounding neighborhood, property owners could face public nuisance charges.
Communicating with Hoarding Tenants
Communicating with hoarding tenants can be sensitive and challenging for property managers. So, approaching the situation with empathy and understanding is crucial. Here are some tips for effectively communicating with hoarding tenants:
- Learn about hoarding disorder, its causes, and potential solutions.
- Build a trusting relationship with the tenant. And assure them your goal is to help maintain a safe and healthy living environment.
- Create an open line of communication and let them share their concerns and feelings about the property.
- Hoarding is often associated with shame and guilt. It’s essential to create a non-judgmental atmosphere.
- Communicate clearly and respectfully.
- Express any safety concerns related to hoarding, such as fire hazards, blocked exits, or health risks.
- Work collaboratively with the tenant to create a plan for addressing the hoarding issue.
- Record your conversations and any agreements made with the tenant for future reference or if legal action becomes necessary.
Property Management Protective Services and Solution for Hoarding
Managing properties with hoarding issues in Nevada demands a delicate balance of empathy, understanding, and strict adherence to legal and ethical guidelines.
Faranesh Real Estate and Property Management recognizes the challenges of hoarding and offers comprehensive services to address these issues. Our property managers can create healthier living environments by fostering open communication and employing strategic interventions.
Take the first step towards a well-maintained property and improved living conditions today. Contact us today for a free estimate.