RENT Magazine Q3 '23

NAVIGATING THE COMPLEXITIES OF FAIR HOUSING AND HOARDING While our other two areas of concern, obesity and smoking, are not necessarily considered a disability in themselves, hoarding is recognized as a mental disability. It falls under the protected category of disability in The Fair Housing Act. Hoarding disorder is characterized by an individual who struggles to discard items due to sentimental reasons or a fear of letting go resulting in the accumulation of items regardless of value. It can also lead to the accumulation of pets which can result in an even greater concern. There are five levels of hoarding, but it is difficult to identify it in its early stages. Therefore, training is necessary to recognize hoarding in its early stages to assist better and manage the situation before it escalates. Having clear policies in place that allow for regular unit inspections greatly aids in this. For example, federally funded properties have government-provided leases that include language requiring units to be decent, safe, and sanitary. Additionally, specific notices can be provided in case of a hoarding situation. Private market properties can follow this direction while creating their own policies. The answer is a clear yes. Properties have the right to establish and enforce no-smoking policies, including common areas, units, or the entire property, even in federally funded properties. In fact, public housing authorities have been instructed by HUD to restrict smoking altogether. That being said, the provision of smoking areas is an option and may aid in resident compliance. Private market properties have the discretion to decide whether to offer smoking areas, while for federally funded properties, HUD recommends providing smoking areas but does not mandate it.



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