One Renter’s Trash Is [Not] Our Treasure…

fish tankOne of the most interesting parts of owning a rental property (even a little two-unit duplex like ours) is getting to see what gets left behind when people move on. Most of our renters have been pretty great about not leaving things behind, but when we got new renters this last summer and took some time to do some more hard core cleaning (including refinishing the linoleum floors), Mr PoP gave the departing renter permission to leave some furniture behind with the promise that we would dispose of it.

Why Did Mr PoP Make This Promise?

Well, partly it’s because Mr PoP’s just a really nice guy. The departing renter was VERY petite – and I say this as a relatively undersized woman myself – so moving this stuff by herself would have been difficult. The friends that had helped her move in were gone for the summer and she didn’t want to keep any of the thrift store furniture that she brought with her to the apartment.

But Mr PoP is also a smart guy. Once we had the new rental agreement set up and we knew there would be a month with no one in the unit, he knew we’d have plenty of time to try and sell the furniture (or take it for our own use). And worst case scenario it would only take us a few minutes to carry the stuff to the curb if it was 100% non-salvageable.


So We Went “Dumpster Diving” In The Not-Quite-Empty Unit

On Craigslist we listed the big stuff – twin bed with frame, cheap-o desk, a lamp, a bookshelf, and the big money-maker, a giant fish tank with whatever supplies had been left in it. Not knowing the condition of the fish tank (is it empty because it kills all fish?), we priced everything to move and ended up only selling the fish tank. (Hey – it was $50 and Mr PoP got free entertainment for half an hour watching some guy try to fit it into an Audi TT!) The rest went out as a curb alert on Craigslist, so we have hopes that some of it avoided the dump, but really – most of it was junk.

20131212-193438.jpgBut even more interesting than the big stuff were some of the random little finds in closets and the attic. We found these two awesome Emergency Kits complete with an AM/FM radio, flashlight, filter mask, emergency drinking water, an emergency blanket, rape whistles and more!

Don’t ask me why, but these (obviously) came home with us.

Then in the attic, we found an unused plastic Christmas tree, some tinsel, and a Christmas tree stand that Mr PoP thought looked like the best thing since sliced bread. These also all came home with us and went up in the attic with our Christmas stuff so we’d be reminded to find a good home for it all around the holidays.

What I didn’t know was that Mr PoP had become so enamored with the renter’s giant Christmas tree stand that when we started cleaning out the garage, he got rid of the old and very reliable (albeit a bit rusty) metal tree stand that his father had picked up for us at the flea market about 5 years ago. This turned out to have been a poor decision when we tried to get our beautiful Christmas tree to stand in the renters’ plastic stand. It was hopeless. Our tree was far too heavy for the plastic stand, so the tree wouldn’t stand up straight.  Heck, it tilted so much I was afraid it would fall if we turned our backs.

And since the old stand was gone, Mr PoP had to run out and buy us what we hope will be our buy-it-for-life stand. At least that’s what the marketing says for “Santa’s Last Stand“.


top – awful plastic stand, bottom – santa’s last stand
right – final product

In the end, most of the renters’ junk was, in fact, junk. We earned $50 on the fish tank, but then ended up spending most of that to buy Santa’s Last Stand. The remaining Christmas items aren’t awesome, so I’m not going to be shocked if they just end up on Freecycle or the local thrift shop.

If nothing else, we helped keep at least *some* of the renters’ stuff from going to the local dump, but I think we also learned that sometimes there’s a reason things get left behind.


Have you ever found that another man’s trash wasn’t quite the “treasure” you thought it was going to be?

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