Buy-to-let landlord Chris Dowling contacted us to sell photos showing how one of his tenants had wrecked a flat he had rented out.

Mr Dowling had discovered more than 5,000 worth of take-away cartons in his property.

We sold the story to the national newspapers to get Mr Dowling more than enough money to clean up the flat.

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Buy-to-let landlord Chris Dowling thought he had seen it all  in 15 years of renting out homes.

However, the sight that greeted him when he opened the front door to a studio flat recently vacated by a tenant, took his breath away.

The entire living area of the flat was crammed full of discarded polystyrene burger cartons.

Mr Dowling, 57, attempted to negotiate the lower slopes of the burger mountain to reach the kitchen area but was beaten back by the sheer weight of the containers.

When he did manage to clear a path through the takeaway jungle, more horror awaited him.

In the bathroom a large pile of cigarette stubs appeared to be carefully stacked on the side of the sink, as if the pile were a work by the modern artist Tracey Emin.

And when Mr Dowling reached the toilet, well............let's not even go there.

Stunned by the state of his 100,000 studio flat, Mr Dowling called in an army of cleaners and decorators to sort it out.

They shifted the burger carton mountain and takeaway detritus into a large van, packing it to the rafters, before visiting a nearby tip for disposal.

It was estimated that the tenant must have munched his way through 5,000 worth of takeaways in the two years or so that he stayed at the flat. There were more than 1,000 takeaway cartons and containers in the 15ft by 11ft living area of the flat.

Mr Dowling's theory about his mechanic tenant is that he was a hoarder who was unwilling to let go of even the most mundane items, like his rubbish.

The property developer who runs 46 homes, said yesterday: 'The tenant had been smoking without opening windows and there were nicotine stains dripping from the walls. It smelt like a giant ashtray.

'There were McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken containers everywhere. I couldn't get through to get to the kitchen and they were stacked all around the bed. You couldn't see any part of the floor in the living area.

'In all my 15 years of running properties I have never come across anything like this before and we see all sorts. Over the period of time this tenant was in the flat, this has got to take the biscuit....or more like the burger.'

Mr Dowling said he had rented the flat in Slough, Berks, to the single man in December 2005 through an agent. Satisfactory credit checks were completed and the 450-a-month rent was always paid on time by standing order.

Father of two Mr Dowling never actually saw or spoke to the tenant. 'I never had occasion to see him or speak to him because there were never any complaints from anybody,' he said. 'I was never notified about any repairs that needed doing.'

But a few months ago he received an email from Slough council asking for information about the tenant. The council was trying to contact the tenant because he had apparently fallen into arrears with his council tax.

Mr Dowling could not contact the tenant by phone and the council eventually sent bailiffs around to the flat. The tenant was not at home when the bailiffs visited, but the council later phoned the landlord to tell him the flat was 'in a disgusting state.'

He said: 'This came as a complete surprise. Usually if there is a problem with the property the rent is the first thing that gets stopped and the alarm bells start ringing. But that hadn't happened.'

Mr Dowling sent the tenant a letter informing him an internal inspection of the property would be carried out in a fortnight's time. But when he turned up at the flat, the locks had been changed and he couldn't get in.

The landlord wrote to the tenant again and informed him he was in breach of his tenancy agreement by changing the locks and leaving the flat in an untidy state, effectively an eviction notice.

Mr Dowling had two mobile telephone numbers for the tenant but could not contact him. 'He never answered the phone.'

But last week he tried to phone him again and got through. 'It was quite a short conversation. He told me he had quit the flat and would return the keys to the agent. I told him the council were after him and he said he would sort that out as well.'

Mr Dowling then called in the cleaners and decorators and finally gained entry to the flat after drilling out the lock.

'The chap was a hoarder, a life of grime. I cannot imagine how anyone can live like that.

'It hasn't put me off renting places out. I will just take the hit and carry on,' said Mr Dowling.

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