Courtesy of Amy Peterselli, Attorney - Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit

1. What defines a hoarding situation?

Hoarding goes beyond normal clutter. It is a compulsion to accumulate items and an inability to discard them without distress.

You can identify a hoarding situation in residential units or garages in numerous ways. 

  • Visibly, a hoarding situation will present itself as stacks or piles of items. However, a unit owner who is hoarding can easily shield their unit from sight by closing doors and blinds and preventing others from entering.
  • Odor is another way to detect hoarding behavior. The smell of old food may emanate from the unit into hallways and nearby units.

2. Why is hoarding an Association issue?

Hoarding within an Association is a health and safety issue for all residents. Hoarding can create and mask structural and maintenance issues, attract and breed infestations of rodents and roaches, breed mold and bacteria, and become a fire hazard.

3. When should something be done?

Hoarding behavior should be addressed immediately to avoid health and safety hazards. If an association is aware of hoarding behavior and doesn’t take action, it can be liable for damage to surrounding units and health issues for neighboring residents.

4. How can an Association address a hoarding situation?

The Board has the authority to address hoarding unit owners if it is found that a hoarding situation is present and that the conditions are causing a safety issue. State and local Departments of Health and Human Services can assist in providing resources to the unit owner. Associations can also refer the hoarding unit owner to counseling. Finally, board members should be proactive to work with legal counsel to adopt rules addressing expectations regarding the condition of units, detail owner responsibility and outline steps to be taken if a unit owner is non-compliant.

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