Having just written about the previous occupant of my home leaving handfuls of hair in every sink plughole, friends have been entertaining me with their own memories of random items left behind in their own rented accommodation. Consequently, I now have slightly (slightly…) more sympathy with rules decreeing that property must be professionally cleaned when tenants move out, although of course, landlords must pay (as they always used to.)
Anyway. A friend rented a furnished flat, and settled down for a night in front of the TV. Sadly, he dropped the remote down the back of the sofa, and after rummaging around emerged screaming, clutching a full set of dentures. ‘Who left these here?’ he demanded of his unfazed, unsympathetic flatmates. There were no takers.
Elsewhere, I’ve heard tales of rotting food, suspect socks, and some strange women’s Y-fronts under the bed, possibly not as disturbing as the tin of Edwardian pilchards found elsewhere. Or a repeated problem: tenants who move out, and leave everything in the bathroom, including mugs full of discarded, toothbrushes wedged in chipped mugs full of stinking, murky water, half-used bars of soap, face-cloths, loofahs, empty shampoo bottles etc. Yuk.
Once I found my then landlord’s stash of porn, which he’d hidden in the airing cupboard before I moved in (none of your weird stuff – straightforward bare naked ladies) so I returned everything immediately. Well, I didn’t want it. What if they were collectors editions? What if he’d borrowed them? He didn’t know where to put himself, and afterwards, his brother collected the rent.
When venturing into those cupboards under the stairs, I’ve found bags of clothes, letters, and the most boring diary in the world. As much as I disparage newbuilds, at least you know you are the first in. Or so you’d think. In one newly converted home, a kindly builder left me an unflushed toilet, generously overfilled, along with the old copy of The Sun he’d used as toilet paper. Clearly a man of taste.
Kitchen goods are always a problem. Much of what I am writing about here is discarded rubbish, but the kitchen stuff, we are supposed to retain, even cherish. Moving in and finding the cupboards stuffed with your landlord’s possessions is always annoying. One especially lovely former landlord was a hoarder, and insisted on keeping balls of twine and punctured air mattresses in my only storage cupboard. I found other random thingummyjigs kept ‘just in case.’
Some landlords fine tenants for leaving anything behind: one occupant left a good quality nearly new toaster and kettle, with a note attached saying the new occupants should feel to keep and use them. The landlord charged £50 for disposal. Another friend moved into a flat and discovered a Marie-Celeste of clothes, half-eaten meals, rubbish and even unreleased tracks from a now quite famous singer-songwriter, who had done a runner.
Mostly though, I’d still like to thank the kindly Wendy who once bequeathed a working television (the note wishing me good luck and happiness was even nicer.) Mercifully, she also remembered to pack her dentures.