By Mike White of Norwich based Letting Agents Martin & Co
Last year the Deposit Protection Service (DPS) did a great survey to find out the top 10 items people leave behind when they vacate tenanted property. I’m really looking forward to seeing if they repeat and update the survey this year because last year there were some surprising and (for the reader anyway) some amusing results. The survey revealed the bizarre bric-a-brac that people leave behind, only to be discovered by amazed landlords as they cleaned up. More than 1000 landlords across the UK were keen to talk to the DPS about the items that their tenants had left behind, which certainly reinforces the message of selecting the right tenants in the first place!
Of those surveyed, property owners reported finding:
- Cats (dead and alive)
- Cannabis plants
- False teeth
- Illegal immigrants
- A pair of fake breasts
- Bomb making equipment with a large quantity of fertilizer
- A wallet with £100 – ‘to help pay the bills we’ve left’
- A milk bottle filled with blood
The most extraordinary response they had was from a landlord who found a false eye. Apparently, the landlord threw it away thinking it was a joke, only to have the tenant phone asking if it had been found. The DPS also noted a trend in the number of animals left by tenants once they’ve moved on. Animals both dead and alive were commonly abandoned by outgoing tenants: cats, rats, hedgehogs, rabbits, turtles and goldfish were regularly mentioned.
Other things which made into the top 10 list of things people leave behind included rubbish, rotting food, and dirty nappies.
While this may all be highly amusing for the reader, imagine what it must be like to actually come across this stuff – not very nice at all. There is of course very simple methodology to avoid such un-pleasantness, that is to ensure you have an Independent Inventory and Check The use of Independent Inventory Clerks is not the exclusive domain of professional letting agents; landlords who choose to undertake their own lettings and management are able to readily access their services too. Using this resource usually has the primary benefit of preventing any arguments arising over accessing security deposits for damages caused. In the unlikely event Dispute Resolution is required, the Adjudicator always welcomes the production of an Independent Inventory, together with Check-In and Check-Out Reports.
It’s funny though how it always seems to be the private landlords who end up with the problems! I’m not saying letting agents don’t have challenging tenants but all I know, from our own experience at Martin & Co, we have had very very few problems like the ones outlined above. We did find a large fluffy white rabbit on one occasion but the outgoing tenant soon collected her precious pet! And, finally, just to be clear, while it is easy to bad mouth tenants, the vast majority are perfectly decent people and look after their landlords property just as you would hope & expect.
Mike White can be contacted at Martin & Co on 01603 766860 at 13 St Giles Street Norwich.