While seemingly dissimilar in nature, hoarding and marijuana have similar impacts on community associations.

In addition to risks experienced by first responders responding to emergency calls, health problems include falls or accidents in the unit, clutter, garbage, animal or human feces, and the resulting mold or infestation can also cause respiratory and other health problems (Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services ).  In communities with common walls, hoarding also has negative impacts on the common elements including the physical deterioration of the walls and floorings, as well as noxious odors permeating neighboring units and common area hallways.

Similar to hoarding, marijuana use, growth, and cultivation manifests itself through potentially noxious odors escaping a unit, and according to a recent forum hosted by the Colorado Division of Real Estate, cultivation and growth of marijuana can cause the growth of mold, accelerated deterioration of the walls, electrical and plumbing systems in the community, and potentially can cause fires in the community resulting in harm to first responders.  Just since the beginning of 2016, a fire in Colorado, Rhode Island, and two in California have all been linked to marijuana grow operations in residential settings.  Much like hoarding, the existence of a grow operation greatly increases the fire danger.

Therefore, hoarding and use, growth, and cultivation of marijuana can lead to serious repercussions within communities ranging from mold growth to noxious odors, to increased fire danger.  While the possible repercussions are clear, methods for addressing them are not that simple.  Many declarations were not written with the intent of, or provide tools for dealing with hoarders or the newly created marijuana industry.

As an initial step, associations should review their declarations to see what, if any, authority they may have to address the problem.  A well written nuisance provision may enable an association to address some of the issues surrounding marijuana and hoarding to the extent they create a negative impact outside the pertinent unit.  However, to truly address the issue, an association should consider amending its declaration and provide the association with better tools to address these issues.  For example, a declaration may be amended to specifically prohibit the growth and distribution of marijuana in a unit.  By the same token, a provision may be added to a declaration prohibiting hoarding or other activities that create fire hazards.

Other courses of action also include inviting the fire and sheriff’s departments to association meetings in order to provide education for the residents concerning what to look for when it comes to these types of hazards and how they should be addressed.

While typically an association should not be in the business of regulating what occurs inside units, in some cases, for the good of the entire community, steps may be required to minimize the negative impact and associated risks of hoarding and marijuana.

If you have any questions concerning marijuana or hoarding, please contact a Altitude Community Law attorney at 303.432.9999.