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Handling a Hoarder Badly: Don't Dispose of Belongings without a Court Order

Pierre Debbas in Board Operations on November 22, 2012

New York City

Handling Hoarder Badly
Nov. 22, 2012

In light of this, the board decided to enter the unit without the unit-owner’s consent or prior written notice and dispose of some of the unit-owner’s personal belongings. The board contacted our office after the fact, wanting to force the unit-owner to dispose of all personal belongings and have the unit and parts of the building remediated from the pest and vermin issues.

This matter actually imposed liability on the board as it had neglected the issue for years though the nuisances caused several unit-owners to be unable to rent out their units and though these nuisances affected the habitability of other unit-owners. The unit-owner contested the condo board’s actions and refused to comply with the board’s reasonable request because the board had entered the unit improperly and disposed of some of the unit-owner’s personal belongings.

Legal Lesson

The board was in fact required to provide written notice to the unit-owner to cure the issue and if the unit-owner failed to do so, then it should have obtained a court order to seek forceful entry into the unit and dispose of the personal items that were causing the nuisance.

At minimum the board should have kept the belongings in an outside storage facility and added the cost to the unit-owner’s common charges. This way the unit-owner could not allege that the board had disposed of something of value and pursue damages against the board.


Pierre Debbas is a partner at Romer Debbas

Photo by Carol Ott

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