Helping Hoarders

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Highland Realty, Inc 0225 099336

Helping Hoarders

In an article by Tim Blackwell, “hoarding” is recognized as a mental disorder and continues to confirm what property managers and owners have already known for many years. Hoarding is classified as a mental disorder and a protected class. This official classification serves as a reminder that handling hoarders is a delicate situation and, if not handled correctly, this could have fair housing and other financial ramifications.

Hoarders – who are now on the same list of disorders that includes Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder – need to be treated by property managers and owners the same as others with mental disabilities.

4 tips for helping hoarders

Property managers and owners should be cautious when working with a resident who hoards. Since the condition is considered a mental disability, landlords should generally try to accommodate first. This means you will need to closely work with the hoarder and monitor progress to try to find a way to retain residency. Consider establishing mutual goals to remedy the situation.

Here are some suggested goals that property managers should keep in mind when dealing with a hoarder:

1. Initiate and accommodate

Hoarders usually don’t ask for accommodation. In fact, many are secretive and their disorders may go unnoticed for years until a neighbor complains or maintenance has to enter the apartment to make repairs. Try to find an ongoing, workable process to minimize issues is optimal. Be rational and don’t jump the gun.

2. Try to avoid the need to evict

Explore all avenues to avoid evicting the hoarder, including creating and monitoring a plan for the resident to clean up the apartment. From personal experience, I know the cost for the hoarder or someone close to the situation to clean up an apartment could easily run $10,000 to $30,000.

3. Help establish reasonable and safe expectations

This could be a long road ahead to the end goal, which will need to be outlined in a written agreement and monitored. For the outcome, strive for creating a safe and sanitary environment in the apartment. Don’t expect the end product to be a page out of House Beautiful.

4. Document the eviction process

If your plan doesn’t work, the only real option may be an eviction. About 39 percent of hoarders do succeed with professional assistance. If the hoarder simply can’t or won’t comply after reasonable efforts have been made to resolve the situation, property managers and owners should be prepared to defend their case. Document, document, document! Take lots of pictures!


Please feel free contact us for help with a hoarder or if you would like to receive:

  •         Market information about properties in your neighborhood
  •         A competitive market analysis for your personal residence
  •         A rental or sale market analysis for an investment property
  •         Assistance with a 1031 Exchange
  •         Information about affordable property management services
  •         Names of recommended home repair and remodeling services


Highland Realty, Inc.
5317 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA  22207


     Dave Rosenmarkle                                             Erika Echegaray
                        Broker/Owner                                    Property Management Specialist                                          Português - Español
             non sibi sed patriae                       


Comments (6)

Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Dave. Not an easy situation most of the time. Luckily for me during my asset management days, it was not a huge issue. Enjoy your day 

Jul 21, 2019 06:00 AM
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty, Inc - Arlington, VA
33 years of providing fully satisfying service!

Thanks for checking Wayne. Hope it's a little cooler in your neck of the woods!

Jul 21, 2019 06:29 AM
Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417
United Real Estate - Addison, TX
Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate

Each year, the Mental Health America group in Dallas, TX holds a day-long seminar on "hoarding".  A few years ago, one of the speakers was a firefighter who trains in fire departments all over the country. The trend is to call these situations "heavy content homes" which describes the house, rather than using the term "hoarder" which tags the person.

Jul 21, 2019 07:43 AM
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty, Inc - Arlington, VA
33 years of providing fully satisfying service!

Great idea; hope it commutes up this way. Thanks!

Jul 21, 2019 11:53 AM
Leif Price
Chirpy Home - Portland, OR
Blogger at Chirpy Home

It is a hard journey for the hoarders and may be unpleasant for the property manager. 

Jul 21, 2019 06:45 PM
Dave Rosenmarkle
Highland Realty, Inc - Arlington, VA
33 years of providing fully satisfying service!

Agreed. It took more than six months and $2,300 in repairs for the tenants to clear out and clean up enough before I would provide a reference for them to move out.

Jul 22, 2019 04:46 AM