Landlord Lee Locking got the surprise of his life when a tenant returned the keys to his apartment, having left it to rot for the past five years.
The floor was nowhere to be seen as every room was full of piles of trash. Bags of cans and bottles, old clothes, mountains of rotting food and cat feces in the tub; the Wales Online photographer said it was the “worst place” he had been in his 20-year career.
Lee was devastated by the state of the apartment. He claims the tenant told him he could keep his £400 deposit to clean up the mess, but Lee was shocked at how big the mess really was.
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He says he feels disappointed with the letting agents who handled the property and thinks they shouldn’t have let the flat deteriorate as much as it did. Now Lee, 56, faces the daunting task of making the Swansea property livable.
The renovations will include a new bathroom, kitchen and fresh carpets, as well as the removal of what he says is the three to four tons of trash left behind.
Lee says he feels dirty every time he steps inside. He said: “Each piece is a state.
“I can’t even come in without wanting to take a shower immediately afterwards. When I first went to the property, I had brought the dog with me.
“I opened the door and the smell hit me. I took a look at the mess on the stairs, closed the door and put the dog back in the car, because he was out of matter that I let the dog in.
“I have no idea where the person slept. A neighbor said he saw the tenant taking a mattress from the house and assumed he was being taken to the dump. After seeing the state of ownership, I’m not so sure.”
Every room in the property is overflowing with clutter and mold. The kitchen contains jars and boxes of rotten food, a litter box full of feces, and empty milk cartons.
In one of the other rooms, the floor is not visible, covered with garbage bags, take-out containers, Amazon boxes and clothes. The bathroom is one of the worst rooms in the house, with the tub covered in old cat feces. The toilet seat is pretty much hanging on the bowl, while the toilet is filthy and surrounded by old plastic bags, used tissues and empty food packets.
The tenant told Lee he could keep the £400 deposit to ‘take care of the mess’ when they return the flat keys, but Lee thinks it will cost a lot more than that to return the place habitable again. He said: “It will easily cost me a few thousand, I will have to replace all the carpets, the kitchen, the bathroom. I was told there was at least three to four tons of rubbish to clean up. I’ I’m at the breaking point with this.”
Lee has no prior rental experience, so he gave the property to rental agents, John Francis, to manage. He feels let down by the company and says they shouldn’t have let the apartment get as bad as it did.
“I understand that people can have mental health issues, and keeping control of cleaning can be difficult for them, and I really feel for them, but John Francis has allowed it to come to this state.”
Lee continued, “I feel really annoyed and angry that I let them manage my property for the past five years and it was returned to me in this condition. They were supposed to review the tenants and be the primary point of contact for any issues.
“The apartment was supposed to be no pets but there was clearly a cat in the property. They took 12% plus VAT for five years and now they’ve left me in limbo.”
A spokesperson for John Francis said: “John Francis Lettings takes any customer complaint very seriously. We receive a formal complaint from the owner and are currently investigating. We will be contacting the owner directly to resolve the issues.”