When Clutter Becomes Chaos: Navigating a Hoarding Situation as a Landlord


As a landlord, you pour your heart and soul into maintaining your property. So, it can be deeply unsettling to discover a resident struggling with hoarding. The piles of possessions, blocked exits, and potential health hazards can leave you feeling helpless and unsure of how to proceed. But fear not, there are ways to navigate this situation with empathy, understanding, and a clear plan of action.


lots of miscelanious items on a table


Start with Open Communication

  1. Approach with compassion: Recognize hoarding is a mental health condition, not a moral failing. Be empathetic and avoid accusatory language.
  2. Open a dialogue: Schedule a private meeting and calmly express your concerns about the property's condition and potential safety hazards. Focus on specific violations of the lease agreement, like blocked fire exits or unsanitary conditions.
  3. Listen actively: Give the resident a chance to explain their situation and offer support. Listen for underlying triggers or mental health concerns that may be contributing to the hoarding.


Developing a Solution

  1. Offer resources: Encourage the resident to seek professional help from a therapist or hoarding specialist. Provide information on local support groups or organizations that can offer assistance.
  2. Collaborate on a plan: Work together to establish a realistic timeline for decluttering. Break down the process into manageable steps, focusing on clearing pathways and addressing immediate safety concerns.
  3. Provide support: Offer practical assistance, such as helping to find a storage unit or connecting them with professional decluttering services. Respect their boundaries and avoid making decisions for them.


Setting Boundaries and Enforcing Lease Agreements

  1. Document everything: Keep a log of your conversations, written notices, and photos of the property's condition. This is crucial for legal documentation if eviction becomes necessary.
  2. Be clear about lease violations: Explain how the hoarding situation breaches specific clauses in the lease agreement, such as maintaining a sanitary and safe living environment.
  3. Follow legal procedures: If the resident is unwilling or unable to address the situation, initiate legal eviction proceedings through the proper channels. Remember, fair housing laws may require reasonable accommodations for disabilities, so consult with a lawyer or tenant-landlord association for guidance.



  1. Safety first: Always prioritize the health and safety of all residents, including the hoarder. If immediate safety hazards are present, contact emergency services or appropriate authorities.
  2. Patience is key: Change takes time, especially when dealing with a mental health condition. Offer continuous support and encouragement throughout the process.
  3. Seek professional advice: Don't hesitate to seek legal counsel or guidance from local organizations specializing in hoarding.


In Conclusion

While navigating a hoarding situation can be challenging, approaching it with empathy, clear communication, and a respect for legal boundaries can lead to a positive outcome. Remember, by prioritizing safety, offering support, and working collaboratively, you can help your resident declutter not only their home but also their path to healing.