Q: A resident of our community is a hoarder and does not maintain his home. We are concerned that the condition of his home will attract pests and cause other problems. The association’s management company sent him letters, but nothing came of it, and the problem is getting worse. Can anything be done? —Brett
A: Dealing with this situation is difficult for everyone involved, including the community association.
Your community manager can send demand letters, issue small fines, and seek an injunction in court if things get bad enough.
An injunction is a court order requiring or barring a specific action. For example, a restraining order is a type of injunction.
Even if your association files suit and is granted an injunction, it will be difficult to stop the resident from continuing the compulsive behavior.
Further, hoarding often stems from a psychological condition, bringing state and federal fair housing laws into play and requiring that reasonable accommodations be made.
The first step is to try to help the individual with their issue and contact family members for assistance.
If this does not work and your community must sue, be prepared for a long and frustrating process, both in getting the injunction and enforcing it.
If the situation gets really bad, for example, if pests are being attracted to the home or the property is becoming dangerous due to lack of maintenance, you should seek the help of your local health and building departments.
This is a complicated issue, and I strongly recommend getting the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you navigate the many pitfalls and challenges caused by this situation.
Unfortunately, some problems do not have an easy solution.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.