My phone pinged. One, two three, four times. Photo after photo came through. It was hard to make them out at first. They were rooms full of stuff. Suitcases, clothes, plastic bags, food, human food, dog food, cleaning products.. and bits of small stuff. Tissues, rolled up things, sleeping bags, hygiene products. All mixed together in every single room.
The photos were from Jack. Until that point, he wasn’t sure how it would go. It had been an eviction from one of his flats. The eviction had been planned for weeks with both the court and his solicitor, but the whole thing came into our focus at the weekend. Cooking Sunday’s roast lunch, Jack’s shoulders were tight. The tenant had been withholding rent for a long time. There was no pleasure in it.. but the decision had to be made. How far can you let rent payments slide?
He went up to the flat at the beginning of the week. Took the trailer with him.
‘She has two dogs,’ Jack planned aloud as he hitched up the trailer, ‘so if she leaves the dogs behind in the flat, I’ll put them in and take them straight to the RSPCA.’ The bailiff was due to be at the flat by midday. Jack got in the car and pointed north to the mountains.
I was left staring up the driveway. I hoped the tenant wouldn’t leave her dogs behind. She didn’t either. She did leave almost everything else though – in a huge heap on the floor. I stared at the photos. Lose your flat and yet leave all your stuff behind? It didn’t make sense. Surely you’d want to keep as much as you could? Now this tenant has no house and no stuff.
It’s not the first time it’s happened. When we first bought this block of flats, all of the flats were full of abandoned stuff. Jack said it was like visiting a shipwreck. He’d wondered what had happened to these tenants that had plunged their material goods into a sea of chaos? So much so, they’d walked out and closed their front doors. Jack had got it all cleared out then. The same thing will happen with this tenant’s stuff. ‘I’m not touching it,’ he said, ‘I don’t have the right equipment. Plus, the guy who does it does it super cheap.’
I told my friends, Hayley and Shane about the eviction last night. Shane thought the guy who clears it makes a profit selling the stuff on.
Shane continued too. ‘There was a similar house where I grew up, where eventually the guy abandoned it and all the kids in the neighbourhood went inside. I found a face of a Rolex watch. Sold it a few years later for almost £300. He’d just left it there. Gone.’
‘What was the bailiff like?’ I asked Jack when he got back home.
‘Not burly,’ Jack replied, ‘just normal-looking. He did say he’d attended another eviction the week before. That tenant had left thirteen dogs behind.’