Hoarders put others living close to them at risk for pests and diseases, along with the risk of fire. When neighbors in a condo project notice that someone's condo has reached the point where it's a health hazard to the unit's occupant and others, it's time to contact the condo's homeowner association. The association can enforce the community's codes, covenants and restrictions (CC & Rs) to force the hoarder to clean up his act or fine him.
If the occupant or condo owner does not act on the directives, the police or fire department need to be notified because hoarding in high-density living can have an impact on the health and safety of others.
Before Reporting Your Neighbor
If you know a friend or family member of the hoarder, explain the problem and ask her to intervene before reporting the problem to the condo's association to avoid antagonizing the owner. If the person is incapable of cleaning, someone the condo's occupant knows might be able to help him. However, hoarding is often emotionally driven behavior that may require professional help.
Some Hoarders Protected by Law
Because hoarding behavior is a clinical disorder, some hoarders are legally protected under the Fair Housing Act as disabled. If your neighbor's hoarding doesn't materially affect or endanger other residents, your condo's homeowners association may not be able to intervene. Instead, it may have to make "reasonable accommodations" for the hoarder just as it would for someone with another kind of disability.
Review the Covenants and Restrictions
Read your CC & Rs to cite the section that applies to the condo association's health and safety standards. Homeowners in properties under the management of homeowner associations have a legal obligation to maintain the property to protect the value of the whole community.Document the Problem
Take photos of any accumulating garbage at the entrance to the condo unit or on any patio or balcony. It's more difficult to document the source of pest infestations and odors, but when you start noticing an alarming number of roaches, ants or flies in the proximity of your condo, clean the inside and outside of your unit. If the problem persists, the origin of the problem may lie with a neighbor.
Contact an Association Officer
Explain the situation to her and describe the symptoms you have noticed. Bring any photos you have taken to substantiate the problem. You can also submit a letter to the association and include any documentation you have concerning the problem. Include the citation concerning property maintenance in your letter or, if reporting the hoarder verbally, refer the board member to the section that prohibits living in unsafe conditions.
Jackie Johnson is a published writer and professional blogger, and has a degree in English from Arizona State University. Her background in real estate analysis prepared her for objective thinking, researching and writing.