In this week’s Ask Landlord Hank question, he gives his thoughts on dealing with a hoarder tenant in the time of eviction moratoria and covid-19.
Dear Landlord Hank:
Twenty years ago, we rented the lower part of a duplex to a couple. After about 15 years, she died. Her husband stayed and has really trashed this apartment with his hoarding illness. He has stacks of newspapers that he refuses to recycle, saying “I haven’t read them yet.” The kitchen is all stacked with stuff that makes it unusable. There is a two-foot path through the whole place. He is a smoker, which doubles our worry about this hoarder situation. I didn’t mention that the unit is in Ohio. Does that make a difference in whether he is protected from being evicted in Ohio?
Dear Landlady Beth,
I hope you have a lease with your tenant. Most leases will have a section regarding “Use of Premises,” usually saying that the tenant shall maintain the premises in a clean and sanitary condition and not disturb surrounding residents or the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the premises or surrounding premises.
The hoarding, which in some states is considered a mental health disorder, would clearly be in violation of this section of the lease.
I would put a “Notice to Cure” on the tenant’s door or hand it to him, stating that the tenant has 10 days to comply with the lease provision or he could be evicted.
Depending upon Ohio state statutes and local ordinances, the hoarding could be considered a “public nuisance” and your tenant could face the prospect of conviction of a misdemeanor.
I would act today to take care of this and either have the tenant clean up or move out.
You will most likely have to evict and clean up yourself. An older person who is a smoker, in a paper-filled environment, seems like a recipe for disaster to me. Good luck.