Hoarding and Tenancy Situations.

AuthorFeng, Judy
PositionColumns: Landlord and Tenant Law

Dealing with hoarding in a tenancy situation involves a balancing act between a landlord's rights and a tenant's rights under the law. Under the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), a tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of their property. A landlord has a corresponding duty to make sure this right is upheld. A tenant also has a duty to keep their home in a reasonably clean condition. And a landlord has a duty to meet minimum housing and health standards in their housing premises. Hoarding situations can be especially challenging when mental disability or other human rights issues are involved.

It is estimated that 2 to 6 out of every 100 people suffer from hoarding disorder, which is recognized as a mental disorder in the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Hoarding disorder is the persistent difficulty in getting rid of things and/or a strong desire to acquire things, resulting in extremely cluttered living space and significant impairment in important areas of functioning (for example, social and occupational functioning).

Hoarding disorder can present in different ways and can vary in severity. For example, a hoarding tenant may simply accumulate an inordinate amount of clutter or a large number of animals. Sometimes hoarding becomes so severe that it can lead to potential health and safety hazards for both the tenant and others. For example, hoarding can lead to fire hazards, mold, insects, rodent infestations, or noxious odours. Extreme hoarding can lead to property being declared unfit or unsafe for human habitation.

I'm a landlord and have received several complaints that one of my tenants is a hoarder. What can I do?

If you suspect that your tenant is hoarding and there may be potential safety and health issues in the premises, you can serve the tenant with a 24-hour Notice of Entry to inspect the premises. You should document the inspection and outline your concerns in writing. Talk to your tenant about your concerns and work with them to formulate solutions for removing clutter--especially any clutter that poses an immediate health and safety concern. You can also refer your tenant to community resources for hoarding disorder.

Tip: The Residential Tenancies Act does not address the issue of accumulation and removal of clutter on rental properties. If the law is silent on a particular issue, then the landlord and tenant can agree to anything in the rental agreement, as long as it is not...

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