Horrified landlord blames letting agent for mountain of rubbish left in flat

Lee Locking
Lee Locking

A horrified landlord has blamed his letting agent after seeing the condition his rented flat has been left in by tenants who lived there for five years.

Lee Locking received the keys back to his property in Swansea after renting it since 2017 to find every room piled high with rubbish.

Amongst the tip were bags of cans and bottles, old clothes, rotting food and cat faeces in the bathtub.

When the tenant handed over the keys to the property, Locking claims he was told that he could keep the £400 deposit to “take care of the mess”, but the landlord was shocked to see the extent of the property.

He states that he feels let down by the letting agents who managed the property, and claims that they should not have allowed the flat to get as bad as it has.

The landlord faces the daunting task of making the property habitable, which will include a new bathroom, new kitchen and new carpets, not to mention disposing of what he says is the three to four tonnes of rubbish left behind.

Locking, 56, said he feels repulsed by the state of property.

He commented: “Every single room is a state. I can’t even go in without wanting to shower immediately after.

“When I first went to the property, I’d taken the dog with me. I opened the door and the smell just hit me. I took one look at the mess up the stairs and closed the door and put the dog back in the car, because there was no way I was letting the dog come in.

“I have no idea where the person slept. A neighbour said they saw the tenant take a mattress from the house and assumed it was being taken to the tip. After seeing the state of the property, I’m not so sure.”

Each and every room in the property is filled with rubbish. The kitchen contains jars and boxes of rotting food, a litter tray which is piled high with faeces, and empty cartons of milk. In one of the other rooms, the floor is not visible, covered in bin bags, takeaway containers, boxes and clothes.

The bathroom is in an horrendous state, with the bathtub covered in old cat faeces. The toilet seat is just about hanging on to the bowl, while the toilet is filthy, and surrounded by old plastic bags, used tissue and empty food packets.

“It’ll easily cost me a few thousand, I’ll need to replace all the carpets, the kitchen, the bathroom. I’ve been told there is at least three to four tonnes of rubbish to clear,” said Locking. “I’m at breaking point with it.”

As a novice landlord with no previous experience with renting out a property, Locking appointed letting agents John Francis to manage the flat. But he now feels let down by the company, and claims that they should not have allowed his rental investment to get as bad as it has.

“I understand that people may struggle with their mental health, and keeping on top of cleaning might be tough for them, and I really feel for them, but John Francis allowed it to get to this state.”

John Francis has been approached for comment.



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  1. Peterpan1956

    This happens all to often.  Some responsibility/liability should rest on the Managing Agents shoulders.

    I have a question. When one is handing override a property/properties to an agent which are already tenanted.

    Does the agent do an inventory check?

    also if a tenant leaves on their watch does the agent take meter readings and again when the same agent re let’s a property does he/she give new tent the readings?

    1. A W

      Lets get this out of the way; an Agent can tell a tenant to do something, they cannot make them do it.
      The agent may have done all of their due diligence, they may have done a lot of different things to remedy the situation… but PIE have not provided ANY of that information.
      This sort of half baked journalism is nothing but harmful to the industry.

    2. Woodentop

      What’s in the agents contract of engagement!

  2. Highstreetblues

    There’s two sides to every story, apart from this one it seems.

    1. PossessionFriendUK39

      I must admit, I would like Every piece of journalism to at least seek a – invite comment from  BOTH  sides.
      In the past,  it was custom to do this and I don’t know why its stopped  ?

  3. GAPDirector81

    It is far too easy to blame the agent and I personally do not think that Property Industry Eye should be able to publish stories such as this until the complaint has been fully investigated by the TPO.

    It could be that the lettings agent did not do an Inventory, did not carry out proeprty inspections throughout the tenancy and didn’t perform a formal check-out.

    However, it could be a similar case like we ourselves had a couple of years ago where the tenant had looked after the property well for the first few years of her tenancy. We noticed a decline in her cleanliness and care for the property and we attempted to work with her for several months to bring the property back to an appropriate standard. The decision was made with the Landlord to issue notice when there has been no improvement to the condition of the property. As soon as notice was issued to the Tenant, things took a dramatic turn and it was quite incredible how much the property deteriorated in such a short time. The Tenant ended up have about 20 cats in the property which she was literally stealing from the streets, the floor was non existant. It was just a sea of rubbish, clothes, faeces and urine. There was absolutely nothing we as the agent could have done to improve things or assist the Landlord any further.

    The Landlord had to pay a considerable amount of money in order to restore the property and thank goodness, he did not blame us as the agent. He worked with us and still works with us now.

    Landlords need to remember that there is ALWAYS a risk when renting out a property and using an agent does not therefore make the agent liable for damages. If the TPO investigate the complaint and conclude that the agent acted negligently, then they will award the complainant financial compensation which would likely include the cost to remove rubbish etc and clean the property. As the tenants rented the property for 5 years, it is unlikely that the complainant would be awarded for the cost of carpets of decor etc as these items would be considered fully depreciated.

  4. jeremy1960

    Why is this story in PIE? It has been lifted from a national newspaper without any research at all.

    We know nothing of the history, for example was the tenant denying access, did the agent put the tenant in initially or take them over from another agent? I have met landlords who think their properties are being managed or at least assume they are because the agent found the tenants or merely collected the rent each month.

    These types of stories should not be published until fully investigated and researched, then, and only then, once the facts from all sides are known should an editor go to print. If this agent was not at fault, this type of publicity could ruin them, editors must realise what damage the clicking of “publish” can do

  5. Woodentop

    Touched a nerve with some, on this one yesterday. Thought there might have been more response.


    Put it into context, the property didn’t get that way over night. Was the agent supposed to have been managing the property i.e. reporting deficiencies to the landlord which includes tenant lifestyle that will have an impact on the landlords liability?


    To say one can only ask a tenant to behave but not force … slightly side stepping. Yes you can force a demand on the tenant. It should have been in the tenancy agreement. Once it became obvious what was happening …. Eviction is the only course of action. These types of tenants do not see what they are doing (who wants to live like that?) and should not be in PRS, leaving them in the property only compounds the liabilities for a landlord and the ‘managing’ agent if they are not following their contracted terms. This is a property within Rent Smart Wales regime which I’m told has a duty on managing agents to regular visit properties as part of their licensing rules?

  6. LRC10

    I bet Shelter don’t release a video for this.

  7. PossessionFriendUK39

    Tenants are like the family pet to Shelter,  they can do no wrong  !

    – apart from the Unintended consequences and collateral damage to the majority of decent tenants.


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