Capital Region Legal News

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Tenant Issues: When Your Neighbor Is a Hoarder

How to deal with a hoarding neighbor?

While there are some clear benefits to being a tenant, including less investment in property and lack of responsibility for most home services and repairs, situations arise do in which the tenant feels trapped and unempowered byhis or her status. Dealing with hoarders is one such situation.

With surprising frequency, tenants are confronted with neighbors who collect and save not only treasured items,but also large quantities of useless objects and materials, debris and even garbage. Such behavior interferes with the quality of life of any people living in close proximity. Beyond creating an unsightly and malodorous environment, hoarding can present serious health hazards by filling the environment with microscopic pathogens and by attracting vermin.

Scientific research has shown that hoarders suffer from serious psychiatric illness, but this insight does not make the condition any easier for neighbors to deal with.  While one may feel human concern for the hoarder, it is still necessary to intervene so that the adjacent tenants are not harmed by his or her pathology.

Although hoarding cases are known to be difficult to resolve legally, since the courts are reluctant to evict people with this disorder, there are several methods of dealing with hoarding issues, including reporting the matter to:

• The co-op board or management team;
• The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
• The Adult Protective Services Program

The co-op board and management team are obligated to enforce both the warrant of habitability clause of your lease and all building regulations; the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is required to maintain public health and safety as it is threatened by mental illness; Adult Protective Services is required to investigate cases in which adults are unable to take care of themselves and is obligated to appoint the hoarder a guardian if this is deemed necessary. Sometimes just the threat of mandatory treatment or eviction is enough to push the hoarder to control, at least to a degree, his or her troubling behavior.

Tenant issues, of which hoarding neighbors are just one example, can present serious difficulties. If your life as a renter is troubled by a hoarder, noise or other environmental intrusion that disturbs your quality of life, please contact the capable real estate attorneys of Ianniello Anderson, serving clients in the Albany, Clifton Park, Glens Falls, Saratoga Springs, Troy, and the entire Northeastern NY areas at (518) 350.7755.                  

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