Hoarding is a mental health disorder that is often misunderstood. It can have serious consequences for those who suffer from it, as well as the people living around them. Property managers of multifamily properties need to understand the important link between hoarding and Fair Housing to ensure the health and safety of all residents.
In addition, this means property managers must address hoarding issues proactively to mitigate potential safety hazards and compliance violations. Educating staff and residents on hoarding awareness, creating policies and procedures to address hoarding issues, and engaging in regular inspections can help ensure that multifamily properties remain safe and compliant. And implementing a reasonable accommodation policy for hoarders can help residents get the assistance they need to manage their hoarding while also protecting the property and rights of other residents.
The Connection Between Fair Housing Laws and Hoarding
Fair Housing laws play a critical role in addressing hoarding in multifamily properties. Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, including those with hoarding disorders. Hoarding is considered a disability under the act, as it is recognized as a mental health disorder. Property management professionals must understand that hoarding is a symptom of a larger mental health issue and should be approached with compassion and understanding.
While the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination, it also allows for reasonable accommodations to be made for individuals with disabilities. Therefore, property managers must provide necessary accommodations to hoarders to ensure equal access and enjoyment of their housing.
Property owners and managers should work with the hoarder and mental health professionals to determine the most appropriate accommodations for supporting the individual’s recovery while also maintaining safety and compliance of the property.
By understanding these laws and implementing appropriate accommodations, property owners can create a supportive and inclusive living environment for all residents while also ensuring the health and safety of the community.
Addressing Hoarding One Step at a Time
Addressing hoarding is a complex and sensitive process that requires careful consideration and compassion.
Here are some tips to help address hoarding in a way that complies with Fair Housing:
- Ensure there is an understanding that hoarding is a disability under the Fair Housing Act.
- Use a standard assessment, such as those provided by the Institute for Challenging Disorganization or the International OCD Foundation, to guarantee an objective evaluation.
- Understand what state and local laws apply to your specific situation and how to apply them appropriately.
- Give the resident a chance to rectify the situation.
Hoarding is a mental health disorder that can have serious consequences for the hoarder and the community around them. It can lead to safety hazards, non-compliance with building codes, and negative impacts on the overall well-being of residents.
Property owners and managers have a responsibility to maintain safe and compliant living conditions for all residents. Understanding Fair Housing laws and the rights of individuals with hoarding disorders is crucial in order to provide appropriate accommodations and support.
By working with hoarders and mental health professionals, property owners can create an environment that supports hoarders’ recovery while also maintaining the safety and compliance of the property.