Can I evict my tenant for cluttering/hoarding?02-09-2022 | Property Occupants
One of the most important and taxing things as a landlord is finding suitable tenants to live in your property. Even with a thorough screening process, you’ll never know quite what a tenant is like until they begin living in your property.
One of the things you may uncover is that your tenant is a hoarder and prone to cluttering the home. There are many issues that come with this, and if your tenant can’t get under control the thought of evicting them will have crossed your mind.
Find out if you can evict your tenant for cluttering/hoarding and how to approach the situation in the best way.
Finding out that your tenants hoard
You’ll likely find out about your tenants’ cluttering problem during routine inspections or maintenance checks. A real worry will be if you receive complaints from neighbours because of unusual smells coming from the property.
This demonstrates the importance of regularly checking in with your tenants to make sure everything is as expected. If you notice small bits of clutter here and there it may be worth raising it with the tenant to prevent a serious issue later down the line.
Assess how serious the situation is
Some people are naturally messier than others, and we all have different ideas of what is and isn’t cluttered – to some extent anyway.
When you do your property inspection, try to be objective. People with hoarding disorders struggle to get rid of things which leads to excessive clutter preventing them from using their living spaces properly. This can be a serious condition that should be treated sensitively.
The severity of the situation will depend on the type of items being hoarded. There’s a difference between hoarding objects and loading the property with rubbish that can rot and cause issues. If your tenant’s property is unsanitary and unsafe, you should call environmental health to investigate.
The grounds for eviction
The legal system often favours tenants over landlords so you may struggle to evict them just for cluttering. If the hoarding is threatening the safety of your tenants and neighbours, your eviction request may be more successful.
Make sure you take plenty of pictures of the property to support your case. When you’re dealing with hoarding, the pictures should speak for themselves.
The grounds for eviction that make the most sense for cluttering and hoarding are Grounds 12 and 13. Ground 12 refers to the tenant breaching any of the terms in the tenancy agreement. Whereas Ground 13 relates to the tenant neglecting or damaging the property, or the tenant subletting the property to another individual who has neglected or damaged the property.
If the cluttering isn’t too serious but you’re still not happy with the situation, you could serve a no-fault 21 Section notice. This is where you notify the tenant that you’ll be terminating the tenancy at the end of the fixed term. A Section 21 notice is quicker and smoother than a Section 8 notice as tenants can’t give a counterargument in defence – as it is ‘no fault’. If the end of the notice is still quite a while away, have more routine inspections to monitor the condition of the property.
Why hoarding is a problem for rental properties
Discovering that tenants have been hoarding in your rental property can send alarm bells ringing. Some of the reasons why hoarding is a problem include:
Certain types of clutter can attract pests like insects and rodents. If your tenant hoards newspapers, magazines and documents, mice and rats will use the paper to make nests.
Even worse, rodents can carry more pests such as bedbugs and fleas that will then make their home in the property. Worst case scenario terminates will burrow in the paper and can cause structural damage.
No landlord wants pests in their rental property, but it can be a disaster if you let out a flat. If the bugs spread to neighbours’ apartments, you will have to handle complaints and maybe rectify their pest problem too.
The types of pests don’t stop yet. If the tenant hoards food or trash, ants, flies and cockroaches can set up home too. These can be hard to remove and you’ll have to fork out for professionals to do the job.
Leads to poor indoor air quality
We’re all aware of pollution levels outdoors, but indoor air quality is just as important for your health. There’s no doubt that the homes of hoarders will suffer from pollutants, and at a much larger scale than your average property.
Decaying waste releases dust, harmful odours and ammonia. Gone off food is the perfect environment for mould and fungus to thrive which can pose health risks like asthma attacks and allergic reactions.
If the hoarding spreads to the bathroom, plumbing systems can become damaged. With clutter piled up on every surface, the toilet could become clogged and backed up. As well as creating more air quality problems, this can ruin the tiles, walls and ceiling of the tenants below.
The cost of replacing these essential items prematurely can be frustrating for landlords, especially when the damage could have been avoided.
The more clutter in a house, the higher the fuel load in the event of a fire. Commonly hoarded items such as clothes and documents are especially combustible and fire can spread rapidly.
Hoarded items can also make it harder to leave the property if there is a fire, which is highly dangerous. Clutter usually starts on the edge of the room and works its way towards the middle, leaving small paths to other rooms in the house. If it’s hard to get out of the house in a fire, it’s going to be just as tricky for firefighters coming to tackle the blaze.
Rodents can also prove a fire hazard by chewing wires, so it’s clear to see how one problem of hoarding can escalate into more headaches for landlords.
Risking the safety of other tenants
Especially if you let out numerous flats in a building, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to keep your properties safe and habitable. Having a hoarder in the building compromises that and can impact other tenants living nearby. If your tenant can’t maintain a safe, clean home you owe it to your other tenants to evict them.
A way to protect your property from loss of rent, accidental damage, theft and more is to take out landlord insurance. With CIA Landlords, you can compare landlord building insurance quotes to find the best deal for your needs. Talk to our experts today on 01788818670 or get a quote now.
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