THE horrific stench that hit Gordon Lee when he opened the front door of his rental property in Willowbank confirmed his worst fears. His property - which had been vacated by its former tenants - was a major mess.
Huge piles of garbage were left rotting throughout the house, walls had been punched in, carpets were stained and the fridge - off for weeks - was full of decaying food. It was every landlord's nightmare.
"I couldn't believe the destruction and mess that was left by these people," the 57-year-old said. "The bi-fold doors had been ripped out ... they had even uprooted the trees and plants."
Mr Lee said he had rented the property out to a young family for the past several months.
"I didn't take a bond," Mr Lee said. "That turned out to be a huge mistake ... I never suspected they would be capable of this kind of damage."
The Mt Morgan resident said he became aware of the problem while he was up north looking for work.
"While I was away, I had left the landlord responsibilities to one of my friends who phoned me up one day to tell me the house 'was one hell of a mess'," he said.
"When I arrived to inspect it, the only thing worse than the sight of it was the smell.
"It's stuffed me up financially," he said. "I've had to put the house up for auction and sell it at a loss.
"I don't think I have any chance to claim anything on insurance."
Property advocate Neil Jenman said trashed rental houses had become a more common problem.
He said so many rogue tenants knew how to play the system so that they could wreck a home and not get caught.
"My advice to landlords is not to rush into getting a tenant," he said.
"A lot of property investors use three different agencies to find someone to rent the property, so it becomes a race ... the trick is to select one agency and stress that quality of the tenant is most important," Mr Jenman said.
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