An Update on Hoarding
A couple of years ago Barker Martin anticipated that hoarding would be an issue for community associations to contend with under laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act. [Link] Since then, the issue has continued to garner greater attention in its effect on the community at large.
We now know that hoarding can qualify as a disability requiring reasonable accommodation. In response to increasing questions in the housing context, the Fair Housing Council of Portland recently issued a white paper directly addressing hoarding as a disability. The paper includes a list of resources and other general information and advice. [link] Among the paper’s most important advice is to treat seriously a claim for hoarding as a disability.
As with any claim of disability, we advise that communities respond promptly and in writing to requests for reasonable accommodation based on hoarding. Don’t make unreasonable or overly detailed demands of the owner in verifying the claim. Always keep in mind the privacy rights of the owner and the community’s authority in its governing documents before making or demanding any inspections. And consult legal counsel if any disagreements arise.
With respect to providing reasonable accommodation, the Fair Housing Council offered some practical advice in terms of what might be in order:
“[Accommodations] might include providing an agreed upon length of time to bring in a professional cleaner / organizer to help clear pathways, reduce pile heights, clear materials in front of heating vents, etc. More will probably be needed than a single deep clean. There may be several steps to the [reasonable accommodation] request, prioritizing the most immediate safety needs and then allowing a more gradual timeline for reducing other clutter, in conjunction with a professional organizer or mental health provider.”
Don’t hesitate to contact Barker Martin for issues related to hoarding and other issues relating to disability.