What Happens To This Stuff Left In A Foreclosed House?

What happens to all the stuff left inside a foreclosed house when the ex-owners jet? The bank contracts these guys to haul it all away to the dump in what is called a “trash out.” Here’s a short video following a crew of junk chuckers. It’s amazing what people leave behind, including photos and computers.

KCET: The Trashout Squad [Calculated Risk via Boing Boing] (Thanks to Dan!)

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  1. gatewaytoheaven says:

    Everything that’s taken from the house goes to a landfill?

    This is ridiculous. Not only am I flabbergasted by the fact that people are leaving their valuables, but more importantly, how are these people cleaning house not taking things for themselves? Who watches them?

    • gatewaytoheaven says:

      @gatewaytoheaven:

      Edit: “does anyone want the end table? anyone want to take it home.”

      Guess they do take it home.

    • sarsbar says:

      @gatewaytoheaven: I’d at least donate the stuff to charity.

      • Yossarian says:

        @sarsbar: They tried that. It didn’t work well.

      • MikeB says:

        @sarsbar: They tried, but they have extra work to do when the charity doesn’t show or leaves stuff behind.

        • Sam Oldenburg says:

          Did you guys even watch the video?

          They explained that charity doesn’t work out because the charity trucks don’t show up, or don’t take very much, and the people are willing to take things for themselves, but many just don’t have the room.

          I’m sure that if there are valuables (computers, whatnot) left behind, that they at least consider taking them home.

      • CFinWV says:

        @mbouchard: Truth. A lot of charities are really cutting back in the “pick up and haul away” of household items right now. I have to wonder if they’re overflowing with household goods with the amount of foreclosures going on.

        • pb5000 says:

          @CFinWV: The house I just bought was almost foreclosed on, meaning that my low ball (vulture) offer actually saved the people from the wrath of the bank. However they left a small amount of stuff at the house which my Realtor told me was now officially mine at closing. Some of it was nice stuff that I needed like the lawnmower and some tools in the garage. But when I got in the attic I found their entire bag of Christmas ornaments. I’m going to try and find out if any of the neighbors still keep in contact with the former owners and attempt to get it back to them if I can. It’d make me feel better at least.

          • Garbanzo says:

            @pb5000: You can ask the sellers’ realtor. When we moved into our current house we found a load of laundry forgotten in the dryer. We just gave it to the seller’s real estate agent and they got it to him. But, yeah, stuff like the hose and trash cans we assumed he left on purpose, and we kept those.

    • The Cheat says:

      @gatewaytoheaven: What do you mean who’s watching them? I’m sure the bank wants them to get the stuff out of the house any way possible. I’m sure they don’t care if it ends up in a landfill or someone’s house.

    • deadandy says:

      @gatewaytoheaven: One of these crews was cleaning out the house across the street from me a few months ago. I went over and they offered me anything I wanted to take.. weight bench, bicycles, all kinds of stuff.

    • KyleOrton says:

      @gatewaytoheaven: I know a person who represents the bank when the people are being evicted. At least in Wisconsin, all the good stuff is hauled away and put in storage. The previous owners have to pay the moving and storage fees to get it back. Otherwise they get to auction it to recoup their $$.

      Anything covered in dog urine (common) or a health risk to the movers, the truck or the storage unit, is left for the trashout guys who come later.

    • baristabrawl says:

      @gatewaytoheaven:

      I’d have to say that they probably do take some things. The Supreme Court ruled that if it’s in a dumpster it’s fair game for anyone to take. However, if this is your 10th foreclosure, what can you possibly still need? You’ve already looted ’til your heart’s content and you don’t need anything else.

      I know that I’d have a big screen TV, tho.

    • 310Drew says:

      @gatewaytoheaven: Rules vary by state,but where I am most of the banks wait until a certain amount of time has passed where the occupant had time to claim the belongings. If the people do not try and claim the stuff within 60 days it is considered abandoned and they forfeit the right to claim anything.

      After that they hire us to “trash-out” the house and they could care less what we do with the stuff as long as it is cleared out of the house within 24 hours of when we get the order.

      Some stuff we take to keep for personal use or to sell on ebay. Furniture we usually put on the lawn and post a notice on craigslist that it is free just come and get it today. Other times when there is antique furniture we have called some antique stores and they will come pick it up and give us from $20-$500 depending on what we found.

      • kgazette says:

        @310Drew: Glad to hear you put up an ad on Craigslist. Have you also considered Freecycle? I’m sure the freecyclers in your area would appreciate knowing when and where they can drop by to grab stuff.

      • HogwartsAlum says:

        @310Drew:

        It’s good that someone is getting use out of it. I can’t watch the video with sound here at work, but I was kind of appalled at seeing stuff that was perfectly good going into the dumpster. I can see the problem with the banks just wanting it gone.

      • gingercorsair says:

        @310Drew: What about opening the place up to the public for a day before you go and trash it out? I mean, if it’s going to be thrown out anyway, why not let people in for a free-for-all? It would probably save some time and money, too.

        Then that poor end table could have found a home :(

        • Eliamias says:

          @gingercorsair: I remember the CraigsList free for all from a while back where people were ripping out fixtures, including plumbing fixtures, etc. That can be quite the disaster unless you factor in time to stand guard which may very well not be worth it.

      • trujunglist says:

        @310Drew:

        That sounds like a kick ass job. Free random crap? Hook me up!

    • bubbledumpster says:

      @gatewaytoheaven: What a wonderful world we live in, no?

  2. mbz32190 says:

    None of that stuff in the video is considered “valuables”. It’s all mass produced Walmart, Ikea, and Pier1 junk. No priceless heirlooms here.

    • aguacarbonica says:

      @mbz32190:

      If you worked hard to provide your family with a sofa, you would probably be proud of it. That stuff might be crap to you, but furniture is very expensive. I imagine especially so for the people who left it behind because their home was being foreclosed on.

  3. albear says:

    I forgot where, but I saw this months ago. It’s really sad. Also what a waste, this stuff can be easily be donated to charities, but the problem is the logistics coordinating mentioned just wont let it happen.

    • acrobaticrabbit says:

      @albear: i agree. I know Habitat for Humanity is always in need of furniture and the like. Even Salvation Army. How hard is it for these “junk chuckers” to drop off a load of used furniture and such at a charity, thrift store instead of a landfill?

      • floraposte says:

        @acrobaticrabbit: At least around here, the Habitat store is fairly choosy, because it (understandably) wants to use its square footage for items that reliably sell, not for stuff that should have been chucked. I suspect that in an area with a lot of foreclosures, they’re even choosier.

        • Con Seannery is apparently an ADMIN... says:

          @floraposte: It’s likely that the charities are overstocked.

          • CFinWV says:

            @BiancaNarberth: My father passed recently and had a house full of nice things and a wardrobe full of designer clothes. No charities would even talk to me about coming to the house, a friend who had a minivan the size of a small country came over and we loaded as much as we could in there and took everything to the Goodwill but we completely lost an entire day and didn’t even make a dent in the amount of stuff in that house. When you’re under a time limit to clear out a place there isn’t really much more you can do aside from inviting the neighbors to pick what they want and the rest gets put into a dumpster. Heck, we even gave stuff to the moving van guy who moved the antiques we were keeping, and stuff went to the realtor.

      • humphrmi says:

        @acrobaticrabbit: Ah my favorite topic. Charities today are too picky. Even if the cleaners loaded it up into a truck themselves, they’d spend hours at the charity drop-off while the charity picked through everything, taking what they wanted and leaving other stuff for the cleaners to then haul somewhere else. As they mentioned in the video, they (the cleaners) just don’t have time to do that.

    • floraposte says:

      @albear: They showed the first portion on the PBS NewsHour a while back. Maybe that’s where you saw it?

    • varro says:

      @albear: Harper’s had an article about trashout people in Florida….I’m shocked that people will abandon their personal items (as opposed to household junk that can be replaced).

  4. Nate Mata says:

    That “computer” was a Packard Bell. I would’ve left it behind too.

  5. Reid Antonacchio says:

    What’s really sad, I’ve read stories of them finding remains of pets that people left behind.

    • t-r0y says:

      @Reid Antonacchio: If/When true, they certainly don’t deserver anyone’s pity — or taxpayer bailout.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Reid Antonacchio: i used to volunteer with animal control in florida and i had to go to a home that had been used for cat breeding and had been foreclosed on. no one had gone there for weeks. several cats had escaped and gone kind of feral but many breeding females with litter had been locked in crates.

      forutunately my mind has mercifully blocked out most of the images as too traumatic to recall.

      we did put out humane traps in the yard and managed to get a few alive for treatment and care

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @Reid Antonacchio: It is extremely common for reptiles to be left behind because “they’ll be fine without food”. I work for a wildlife center and we’ve had more than one call concerning emaciated alligators and snakes left alone for weeks without food or proper heating.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @h3llc4t: Ugh, people suck. I can’t watch those animal cop shows on Animal Planet because of people like that. I understand forclosure is a stressful time but pets are living creatures, not some object to leave behind. At least they could contact a humane society or offer the animal for free to a new home if they have to move somewhere they can’t have pets.

        I could never work for a humane society, I don’t think I could not rescue all the animals myself.

  6. kc2gvx says:

    These companies should haul the stuff to a warehouse first, and leg people purchase it. They could make money, and people could get good deals instead of the landfill getting it all.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @kc2gvx: Costs too much I bet.

      • lars2112 says:

        @Ein2015: Think about the last time you packed up all your stuff and moved. Tossing everything in the dumpster takes much less time than having to pack everything up, load it in a truck, unload the truck, unpack….. Not worth the time.

    • calquist says:

      @kc2gvx: Or if these people were so behind on their mortgages they could have tried to sell some of this stuff on ebay/garage sale? They obviously really didn’t need it if it is true that they were not forced out immediately.

      • ceriphim says:

        @calquist: Are you gonna sit on the floor of the house you’re being evicted from with a computer posting an ad for everything you can’t fit in your car? For real?

        • calquist says:

          @ceriphim: Yea, I would. I paid hard earned money for all that stuff (or at least have a ton of cc debt that I need pay off), I wouldn’t want to leave it all behind for these trashers. The video says that they were not forced out immediately, I would post a garage sale link on Craigslist and try to get as much money as I could. Sure a giant garage sale might be embarrassing, but you are being evicted and definitely have better things to be worrying about.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As someone who has done this before, you do get alot of nice stuff. But once your house is full and all your friends houses are full, the dumpster is where it all goes. Charities don’t always cooperate to come out and pick stuff up, and then they want to nit-pick what they take to the point where a single day’s worth of clean-out work doubles. If they even show up at all.
    Saddest stuff I found was a fully prepped nursery and kitchen full of wedding gifts. The owners had just walked away from the house and all the stuff.
    Sickest was the fishtank of dead stuff we had to empty and then remove. The smell was terrible.

    • chadgottfried says:

      @BiancaNarberth: agreed. I cleaned out many a house for my old boss who was a landlord. We would give out so much stuff and keep alot but after awhile, it got really old and depressing. I know exactly what you mean about the charities too, boss finally quit having us call them they were such a pain.

  8. Yankees368 says:

    Ohhhh there is so much stuff I could use that is just being thrown out there.

  9. acrobaticrabbit says:

    granted the people who leave the house are being incredibly wasteful. If it were me getting foreclosed on, I would try to sell as much stuff as I could, because obviously these people are going through financial troubles. so sad..

    • Powerlurker says:

      @acrobaticrabbit: @kc2gvx:

      The problem is that there are so many foreclosures in the area that the used furniture is virtually worthless. There are far more people in the area looking to get rid of their crap than there are people to buy it.

    • DarkPookie says:

      @acrobaticrabbit: i’ve seen this from the other side, when my parents filed bankruptcy years ago… the emotional effects of going through something like this, added to a “normal” daily schedule, trying to make living arrangements, etc. doesn’t necessarily leave much time for posting ads or organizing garage sales.

      i lost well more than half of my personal possessions, because i didn’t have time to sort and pack it all… sometimes it gets to a point where you grab what’s important/what you can see, fit, or carry, shove it in a box or bag, and run.

    • CFinWV says:

      @Kuonji: Don’t look in my kitchen then!

    • econobiker says:

      @acrobaticrabbit: And yet you see the same dimrods who just lost their homes to foreclosure and left it full of their goods posting on craigslist “wanted” section whining for free goods in ads similar to this:

      “my family needs all kinds of furniture and kicten stuff. please help we dont have much money so free stuff is best because we just lost it all. Our two yung children need some old toys maybe your kids dont play with now. any donashons are appreeceated, God bless you.” (intentional mispellings to duplicate typical ad)

  10. Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

    Can’t they make some kind of public announcement for the goods in the houses? Craigslist is good for other things than just meeting trannies.

    Seems like a giant waste.

  11. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Some people I know who rent houses say college students (in particular) leave behind all KINDS of stuff, including computers. They sell it on e-bay and Craig’s List.

    Little surprised there isn’t more selling going on here, honestly. My friendly neighborhood scavenger (WHO NEEDS TO START MAKING HIS SPRING ROUNDS SO I CAN GET RID OF RENOVATION TRASH) would be happy to sort it for them, haul it all away, and sell it for a nice profit.

    • floraposte says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: The college dump season is quite astonishing, really. I’ve been offered sofas under a year old, looking in quite nice condition, for free, by a student’s mom when I was walking by. And not that long ago at UPenn, they’d just put all of the discarded crap out on the sidewalk, so the student area had piles of apartment contents taller than people lining the streets in the student residential area.

      The problem is that the glut and the quality level means there’s not much of a market for it. Ideally, you’d have free storage and dole it out over the course of the subsequent year, but even then it might not be worth the cost to drag the stuff out. I suspect it’s not that dissimilar in foreclosure hotspots in CA and FL.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @floraposte: I have faith in my scavenger — he’d make it work! :) But if you’re getting it for free, “Not much of a market” is still a market, and you’re making SOMETHING off it.

      • themicah says:

        @floraposte: Exactly right. The problem is that moving and storage tends to be more expensive than simply buying new stuff the next year.

        Dorm refrigerators are a perfect example. At the college I went to, there was an official on campus moving and storage agency that charged $40 to store a refrigerator for the summer. But unless you had a car, you had to pay them another $40 to come to your dorm to pick it up and then return it again in the. So $80 to store a dorm fridge (in a storage locker where it might get really dirty), or you could just buy a new one at Wal Mart in the fall for the same price.

        When you’re losing your house to foreclosure, you probably have almost no free cash lying around, so it’s probably not so simple to hire someone to carry out that big screen TV, let alone to pass the credit check to rent a storage locker where you can keep it.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: when i lived a few miles from rollins college, i furnished a two bedroom duplex from the front lawns of college students in may and june. they just haul stuff outside and leave it.
      in that neighborhood [college park, orlando if anyone needs stuff near the end of a semester] there was a kind of scavenge ettiquitte where useable items would be piled neatly several feet away from the trash.

      i got dozens of books, some chairs, 2 tables, 2 bookcases, a bedframe and an entertainment center in the space of a month.

      when i moved out, i had to fit everything i owned in a 17 foot uhaul to come to another state and i started putting things on the lawn at 7:30am. by 8 am people were pulling over and helping themselves and i only had to make one trip in my compact car to the thrift store.

    • drjayphd says:

      @Eyebrows McGee: That guy probably moved to New Haven… the Hartford Courant ran an article probably a year ago about scavengers at Yale. Someone found a fully functional iPod in the dumpster one year. Clearly I went to the wrong school; best I’d ever yoinked was a trash can or a dish drainer.

  12. gerrylum says:

    Hmmm… a jar of kimchee and a rice cooker? I’m guessing a Korean family used to live in there.

    • Fresh-Fest-1986 says:

      @gerrylum: I have a rice cooker and kimchi at my house and I’m not Korean. I also sometimes eat taco’s, pasta and my drool and Im neither Hispanic, Italian or Retarded.

      Wacky Liberals!!!

    • Kuonji says:

      @gerrylum: I’m going to go out on a limb here and agree with you. Not only is there Kimchi and a rice cooker, but there is gochujang (spicy miso paste) and a box of Nongshim ramen. They *may* not be Korean but I’d give slim odds.

      • Kuonji says:

        @Kuonji: Holy crap. I just noticed the bottle of Soju there too. They are either the most non-korean Koreans out there, or they ARE KOREAN

        • TechnoDestructo says:

          @Kuonji:

          I’m not korean and I’ve been known to have jars of kimchi, bottles of soju, and a rice cooker. Lived in Korea, though. And I wouldn’t leave my rice cooker behind, WTF…hard to find a good rice cooker that doesn’t cost a fortune in the US.

    • samurailynn says:

      @gerrylum: *sigh* I have kimchee, rice cooker, 10 pound bag of rice, nongshim ramen, various other Korean ramen, gochujang, sesame oil, disposable chopsticks, Korean dried seaweed… possibly some various other Korean things.

      I’m white. Really white. I just like Korean food.

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @samurailynn: I have all those and I’m not Korean, either. Mmmm, kimchee. I also have bottles of ingredients in Chinese but I’m not Chinese. I just like to cook and I enjoy all kinds of food. I go shopping in Chinatown in Chicago a few times a year to stock up on certain things.

  13. catskyfire says:

    One of the catches to “Give it to charity” would be that you have to take a lot more care with the items. More loads with less stuff. Because Goodwill doesn’t want a table with a broken leg anymore than you would. If you’re just chucking it, you don’t have to worry about condition.

    Then there are the logistics. Could the charity handle an entire houseful of stuff at once? While Habitat for Humanity may seek furniture, do they have a place to store it until they have somewhere to put it? What should they do with stuff that they don’t have a use for?

    • ceriphim says:

      @catskyfire: Good call, they also have limited hours and sometimes are *very* selective in what they’re looking for. Lay-Z-Boys but not sofas or love seats, for example. Hell, they’re pickier than I am…

    • jimconsumer says:

      @catskyfire: No, charities can’t handle a houseful. When my grandma died, in a small town, we had no idea what to do with her stuff. We tried to give it to the local charity. After a few trips, they turned us away. They apologized and said “You just overwhelmed us. We don’t have space to store it and don’t even know if we can sell it.”

      Most of it went to the trash. My aunt, the executor of the estate, just wanted it all gone. If I were controlling things I would have taken a month off work and eBay’d everything, but it wasn’t up to me.

  14. ospreyguy says:

    I say curb the big items with a “FREE” sign. If it isn’t picked up trash service should get it… It’s something.

  15. bohemian says:

    Put the good stuff on the curb with a “free” sign or something. I hate seeing all this waste. Where I live there is a big shortage of used furniture or used pretty much anything. Everyone is looking for used things and people are not getting rid of things as much.

    • fjordtjie says:

      @bohemian: yes. goodwill and st. vinny’s have slim pickings for furniture, and any decent stuff on craigslist is about 500% it’s actual value or if not, gets snatched up right before i respond. here is my favorite local ad (it gets posted and reposted about every 2 weeks or so, for the last, oh, year at least!) [madison.craigslist.org]

  16. wildhare says:

    This kind of thing happens every day in the apartment management industry. I used to work as a maintenance tech/porter for a year and a half and almost 1/2 of my job was trashing out evicted apartments. Even in that scenario you wouldn’t believe the kinds of things people left behind. Including like another poster mentioned, their household pets. There was one apartment where a 9 month old boxer puppy who had died was left in a box of garbage on the upstairs patio to rot, and a living puppy was locked in an empty bedroom with a pile of dog food in the middle of the floor. Needless to say that apartment was the worst I had ever seen.

    • Geblah187 says:

      @wildhare11:

      You know, I have more sympathy for those types of animals than I have for many humans.

      Some people are a-holes and deserve to have bad things happen to them, but no animal deserves that kind of treatment.

      I could never work for the SPCA because I would give a severe beating to the owners of every abused pet I found :-

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @wildhare11:

      Oh my God. I’m gonna cry now!

      The worst I ever saw (smelled!) was a guy in the apartment complex I lived in / worked for in college who moved out and left a freezer full of meat. And TURNED OFF THE FRIDGE.

      His floor was covered with fast food trash also, in every room, so that you could not see the floor.

    • Schizohedron says:

      @wildhare11: Christ, that’s fucking horrifying. I’d have nightmares for years.

      A friend of mine who used to trash out the apartments his father owned discovered a starving, abandoned kitten. Lucky cat; my friend is like St. Francis reincarnated. He immediately took it home, where it’s since received all the love its former owner never gave it and then some. It grew up into possibly the friendliest cat I’ve ever met.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This can sometimes be very sad. While my wife and I were stationed overseas with the military, her mother suffered a mental breakdown and stopped paying the bills, including mortgage. Eventually, she was foreclosed on, and she had to move in with family. By the time we learned anything about it, my wife’s entire childhood was gone. All her pictures, her childhood stuffed animals, everything had been trashed, with no hope of recovery. My wife was, and still is to an extent, devastated.

    • CFinWV says:

      @JosephNimple: I can understand how she feels. When my grandmother packed up and moved to Florida 20+ years ago she threw all of the family mementos and photo albums into the trash without telling anyone. I know just about nothing about that side of the family.

    • econobiker says:

      @JosephNimple: My wife and I hit a yardsale where the people had done house cleanouts. They had boxes of what had probably been in an old womans medicine cabinet and top dresser drawer. They had some guy’s grammar school report cards from the late 1960’s in a place about 200 miles away and pictures of said guys children from the 1980’s. Very sad indeed but then they had the biggest catche of knitting/quilting/craft stuff you had ever seen. Probably from same old woman.

      This is the reason that antiques are valuable- because some idiot lost the family home and the cleanout crews put out the 1750 Boston made chair set worth $10,000 to the curb…

  18. Corporate-Shill says:

    Don’t know the exact legal reasoning, but personal items left behind will become the property of the title holder (bank) at some point of time.

    When I was a teen I worked for an uncle’s small construction company during summers. He did a lot of rental property clean-up and remodels.

    There were times we had to shovel up the crap and hold it for the rental company to evaluate. Most of the time it really was crap

    Other times we were free to take what we wanted, like we really wanted puke covered drapes, dog carcasses etc.

    But sometimes there was really good stuff. Complete living & dining room sets that looked like they came right off the showroom floor, kids toys & sporting goods (we played BB during lunch breaks with a really nice leather BB), working TV and stereos.

    The weird thing is the rental company would hold the house with the goods for weeks or months(?) waiting for the rightful owner to return and claim the stuff.

    • Corporate-Shill says:

      @Corporate-Shill:

      We didn’t sell the stuff, we kept the good stuff. A lot of extended family members (friends and neighbors) going off to college would suddendly have a TV or overstuffed chair for their dorm room

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Corporate-Shill: in most states, when they reclaim the house, the property inside it is still considered the property of the homeowner (or renter). there’s a period of time that must pass before it is considered abandoned (at which point the company can do whatever they want with the property).

      it’s unfortunate that all this stuff is being trashed. you’d think someone would find a way to capitalize on all this free stuff.

  19. Android8675 says:

    So glad I’m not in this position. Scares me that I’ve started looking into buying my first place. I sometimes feel like a leech moving in on some unfortunate victim that’s fallen on hard times.

    /shrug. Good report though.

  20. TechnoDestructo says:

    If not for people leaving photos behind, would Robocop have gotten his memories back?

  21. Outrun1986 says:

    Estate sales like what we have here must not be popular in that part of the country. Heck you don’t even have to pay for the ad anymore, just list on craigslist, sit at a table with a cash box and have people pay for whats left inside the home. Much better than hauling it away in a dumpster, what people don’t pay for probably should go into the trash.

    Of course if the area you live in is so bad that no one has any money for anything, people might not even show up. But estate sales usually generate a long line here at opening.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Outrun1986: estate sales are big where i live, but too many people i know are just too damn lazy to do anything but rent a dumpster. simply carting it to the goodwill or sally’s gets you tax deductions that you can carryover for what? 3 years?

      & people are intimidated by holding tag sales for some reason. what’s so hard about it? throw an “everything’s a dollar” sale – i guarantee your shit will disappear like it grew legs. you make a few bucks, save a couple hundred on a dumpster & all it cost was a weekend.

      *shakes head*

    • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

      @Outrun1986: One of the conditions for these trash-out companies is that the stuff needs to be disappeared within 24 hours of them getting notice on it.

      That doesn’t leave much time to sell stuff and trash the rest of the house. And stuff can’t be left out front, because there’s no guarantee it’ll be gone in time.

  22. frodolives35 says:

    I am a scavenger at heart. I would love to do this job part time. I think some one could really stock a secondhand store with this stuff or have some killer yardsales. I have seen lots of treasures on roadshow that were found.

  23. t-r0y says:

    And somebody, somewhere, is boohooing about losing everything.

  24. Frank Quezada says:

    I say the trucks doing the trash out should have a sign on their cars that says follow me to free stuff or at least a sign in the front of the house when they get there saying come in an get free stuff before we throw it away.

    • invisiblenemies says:

      @Frank Quezada: I’m sure there is a liability issue there somewhere. The last thing these guys need is for someone taking a free chair to slip and fall. The bank certainly won’t go for that. Too much hassle.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      @Frank Quezada: The house next to my parent’s just foreclosed. The people emptied the house and pretty much left it all on the front lawn. No free sign or anything. Supposedly the first day there were tons of scavengers looking for good stuff.

      Fast forward three weeks later, most of the junk is still there. Plus some other fine, outstanding individuals decided to do the ol’ stop-the-pickup-lower-the-tailgate-and-speed-away dumping trick. With the attraction of scavengers and dumping that house was also recently broken into a number of times.

      They could have just hauled the stuff away and my dad would have mowed that lawn just to keep it neat. Instead they tried to make it as attractive as possible to ne’er-do-wells and the banks wonder why they’re having such a hard time selling the houses they’re taking possession of.

  25. ryaninc says:

    How do I get this job? I would totally work as one of those hauler guys, I can think of lots of things to do with some of that stuff. This is incredibly tragic.

  26. WorldHarmony says:

    You see this all the time on TV. There are shows on HGTV and/or similar channels showing people taking over foreclosed homes. Often the stuff inside is just junk.

  27. Dan Seitz says:

    I did trash-outs one summer. People left behind wedding photos, baby pictures, personal documentation, you name it they left it. Most tellingly, I found reams and reams of porn, and I also learned there’s one thing more disgusting than used porn: the kitchen.

    Trashing out a kitchen that’s been in Southeast heat for two weeks, that’s not an experience or a smell I’ll EVER forget.

  28. RandomHookup says:

    My tenants left the fridge full of beer. I forgave them the dirty tub.

  29. Charlotte Rae's Web says:

    If some charity group was smart, they’d put together a flyer and give to these companies, just asking to at least have a shot at stuff just to keep it out of junk yards.

    I’m regularly asked if we have anything for a local women/children’s shelter that help with housing, church mission groups who can take clothes/shoes, etc. We have an animal charity group here with trucks that has a thrift store for stuff they pick up and/or fix up.

    I’m big into freecycling to get rid of stuff in my house and boy the people from there and CL would be all over chances at this stuff if there was a way to keep it from being a free for all.

  30. Owen Yun says:

    Exactly why would people just leave like that even though they know they have time to move some of their items out?
    This just reminds me of movies with the post zombie apocalyptic homes.

  31. jstonemo says:

    The trash-outs that I have done are mostly junk. I have yet to find a good item to keep. Of course I do trash-outs in the not so nice neighborhoods.

  32. jwalker095 says:

    Why not take 3 minutes of your time and post a quick ad on Craigslist titled “HOME FORECLOSURE: COME GET FREE STUFF!”

    This will attract many people, and cut down on the amount of work that needs to be done-less trips to the dump.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @jwalker095: Unfortunately, there have been some CL scams similar to that.

      “We have left our home and aren’t coming back. Feel free to take whatever you want. Break the lock — we don’t care.”

  33. Pithlit says:

    It’s hard to understand the personal items, like baby pictures. Things would have to be pretty dire for me to leave things like that behind. There was a home nearby that recently got foreclosed upon, and the homeowners abandoned everything, and among the things piled out on the lawn there were scattered baby pictures. It was so heartwrenching to see.

    • thewriteguy says:

      @Pithlit:

      That’s the thing I truly don’t get. I can understand abandoning the old computer (that has a crappy processor and is totally outdated) and the ugly furniture that would be a hassle to physically move — but family photos? How hard is it to simply pick up a photo book and carry it with you on your way out the door?

      I really would like to know what the reasoning, and psychology, is going on there. All the other material stuff is just “stuff”. But the deeply personal items that are left behind… what’s the story there?

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        @thewriteguy: I know. You can’t take photos with you? Yeah, you may not be able to move the furniture but pictures don’t take up that much rooms. One of my paranoias is there being a fire in my place and losing all my photos. If I have to leave in short notice, I’m grabbing my cats and my photos. Everything else can be replaced.

        • econobiker says:

          @Red-headed bookworm: Better yet scan your photos and give the disks to relatives.

          Never ever try to save photos in a fire nor pets (but I understand why you would want to) as it is not the fire that kills but the toxic smoke…

  34. Chris Chagnon says:

    I feel like there should be a government/bank foreclosure website that lists these things so people in the area could get to stuff the day before the trashout etc

  35. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    craigslist needs a new section: foreclosure trash out!

  36. Rebekah Harris says:

    After eight foreclosure notices, hidden from one spouse by the other (the one with the eBay habit), [someone] finally lost her condo and credit. (Everything was, of course, in her name. She stayed with him, but that’s not the point.)

    I drove someone who had keys, who needed to get the “Oh, we forgot a paper.” The place was trashed. The lights were all on (husband had never shut off the electric, in the wife’s name) and the toilet had been running for weeks. Dirty underwear and porn were lying out. Rotted food in the sink, the odor of ketchup that had been deliberately poured into the drawers. Nothing of value that belonged to the husband had been left. Left behind were the dining room set that was a wedding present from the wife’s brother and his wife, and the wife’s jewelry. Clothes in the dryer. Expensive beer. And her high school flute. And her birth certificate, diplomas, and the baby box her mom had put together with all of her school pictures. Photos. A computer and two printers. And her dolly that her daddy had gotten her. There are pictures on my Flickr, which does dump photos to Consumerist.

    I helped carry out some of that stuff, and needed a week to air out my car. After coming home from the second run, I actually parked in the garage, went in through the laundry area, and stripped next to my washing machine before I would go into my house, the odor was that bad.

    Since that stuff was only a few days pre-trashout, I scored an Elton John concert sweatshirt that I’d coveted :D

    OH: The husband had left boxes of baseball cards. I left them on the curb on our Big Trash Day (once a month). They sat for twenty-four hours.

  37. blash says:

    I smell a business opportunity. Go to the bank, offer to clean out the house for free, transport all the stuff to a warehouse, sell as-is on eBay, divide proceeds among your haulers, drivers, inventory keepers, and packer/shippers.

  38. bonzombiekitty says:

    You’d think the trash out people would do at least a quick sift through the stuff and pick out the items that could have some resale value then rent out a warehouse to sell it all uber cheap.

  39. bonzombiekitty says:

    I moved into an apartment a few years ago. It was two “bedroom” (I say that because one of the bedrooms was the size of a king sized mattress) apartment that had two girls living there prior to our move in.

    When I came with all my stuff, one of the rooms was empty, but that was it. The rest of it was as though the person never moved out. There were pots, pans, other kitchen stuff, a couch, king sized mattress and bed, etc. We got in contact with former tenant A who said that a month ago former tenant B just up and moved out leaving all her stuff behind – she just packed a bag and left. The landlord never came by to clean up the place, so I had to do it. I still have some stuff left over from that, mainly a blender and coffee grinder.

    • econobiker says:

      @bonzombiekitty: I had a friend who reversed that sequence. He and another dude subleased from a guy who was spending their rent on drugs (they later found out). When landlord came to evict he found out the deal so gave them a week to move. The two guys split up the druggies personal goods and then helped the landlord clear the place out in revenge against the druggie…and still had a pile on the curb.

  40. William Ierardi says:

    i used to have that packard bell

  41. morganlh85 says:

    When my husband was a young teen, his asswipe of a father lost their house…then decided not to tell his family till something like three days before they had to be out that they had to start packing. This is a family of six and everything they own. They had to make a mad dash to pack as much as they could AND find somewhere to put it, not being able to afford storage. My husband had to leave behind tons of his childhood toys and memories, because there just wasn’t enough time to get it all. Not to mention some of his relatives who came to help pack decided to help themselves to a lot of their stuff. It was really a heartbreaking and sickening experience.

  42. jstonemo says:

    The problem with sifting through the stuff and storing it somewhere is that we work on a tight deadline. Sometimes as short as “we need it done tomorrow”. With all of the foreclosures, there isn’t time to sift and store every house.

    Besides doing trash-outs, we also do make-readies so that it is clean enough to show and sell. This may include repairs, painting, and always a thorough cleaning. Not every house needs this treatment. Most likely the houses in the inner-city just need trash-out since they are usually only worth $2-10k. The banks don’t want to pay too much on a house that is basically worthless.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I just bought a foreclosed house and it had a very nice 7hp craftsman law mower in the garage. I seen it the both times we went to look at it. The 3rd I was at the house to do the inspection it was gone! Its a bank owned home so I’m thinking a sleazy realtor stopped by and nabbed it. >:O

  44. I love the Power Glove. It's so bad. says:

    I used to work for Stephen F. Austin State University in the Housing Department and every semester when the students left the dorms, we were required to clean the dorms before the semester restart and we would find TONS of stuff in the rooms. Some was junk and some was good stuff like TV’s, microwaves, carpet, cinderblocks, clothes, various appliances, jars of urine (seriously), textbooks that could be resold, calculators…one time, we even found a bag of marijuana!

    I imagine people it’s hard to get rid of this stuff because it looks like a pretty upscale neighborhood. Where I live in Houston, you put stuff like that by the curb and I guarantee it will ALL be gone within 30 minutes to an hour.

  45. Anonymous says:

    This reminds of me when I was a RA in a college. Students would leave soooo much stuff behind when they moved out of the dorms for the summer. We did our best to collect stuff for charity, but the brats piled their trash and crap in the collection bins. It was amazing to see how lazy and spoiled these students were. Typical of our disposable society.

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      @MadisonCleite: At my school we would be fined if we left trash or other belongings in our dorm rooms. Easy solution to force people to take their crap with them or dispose of it properly.

  46. econobiker says:

    I currently live in an apartment complex and the well meaning but stupid maintenance guys do trashouts and toss all manner of good stuff in the dumpsters- plus I think several storage places may occasionally use the dumpsters as a midnight drop off.

    Like most of the posters said alot of stuff is nasty, dirty, and useless- you can only have so many highlighter pens. Clothing is iffy. With bedding/beds you run the potential risk of bugs. And it takes time to rehab some stuff- ie found a cast iron frying pan with gooed up fat. Clean with simple green and then dishwasher several times and then re-season. Probably a total of a 1 hour process over the course of a week- for $10?- it is an iffy return…

    Like I said stupid maintenance men- they even threw a car battery in the dumpster- illegal and worth $10 on core exchange- I took it, refilled it with distilled water and blasted it with my battery charger and it came back to charge (date code said under 2 years old). Same load gave me a plastic truck bed tool box but that needs new locks- probably cost $40 and no one wants to spend $50 on a used truck box.

    I have flipped stuff like a vintage couch for $60, an ’80s Camaro rear window louver for $50, very cheap leather office chair for $20, and always have a market for the metal bed frames $10-$20. But I have also collected stuff that didn’t sell and eventually listed piles of it on craigslist as an apartment clean out for $20 which was a loss to me in the handling. Currently flipping a hideous white/pink with gold trim dresser in great condition for $25. Pulled from next to dumpster at 10:30pm, pictures by 11pm, first response by 12midnight, hope to be picked up Friday night.

    But that is dwarfed by whole house clean outs that have to be done in 24 hours or so…

    • du2vye says:

      In my city there’s a law against dumpster diving, including picking up stuff off the curb that’s put out for bulk collection. No wonder the solid waste fees keep going up and up. The City would make poverty or frugality illegal if they could.

  47. Anonymous says:

    usually no one is watching these guys take out the trash. the camera crew is the only thing that kept these guys from taking a couple of the nicer things. I should know, I have a relative who works for a private contractor and many times they are hired to do this sort of work. thanks to that I have a 12′ trampoline in my backyard, me and a friend were told there was one that was going to be thrown out; he and I came and disassembled it and now enjoy it quite often. what are the moral implications on that? I never quite thought about it.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @HartleyNanger:

      If it’s legally abandoned property, there is nothing wrong with them taking it and using it or selling it, or giving it to you. Think of it as recycling. Otherwise, it just goes in the landfill and gets all gross and nasty. Waste.

  48. gttim says:

    I watched a fire “trash out crew” empty what was left of people’s property from a burned up apartment house behind mine. They kept a lot of stuff for themselves. I would not want to keep anything from somebody else’s misfortune, but they didn’t seem to have a problem with it.

  49. Michael Ortega says:

    To tell you the truth this hit me kinda hard, I almost threw up. I am working so hard to make money to buy nice furniture and things for my house then here are these people just throwing high dollar stuff into a dumpster. Wow just WOW what a waste.

  50. consumerd says:

    No but I think I have a nice side job now. Trashout foreclosure homes and profit on what is saleable!

    Get paid 2x (once by the bank) and once by the sales!!

  51. IT-Chick says:

    This honestly brought tears to my eyes.

  52. LiveToEat says:

    I left all of my belongings in my house when I went bankrupt. The house had been completely underwater though, and I was homeless for almost a year after, so had no place to store anything.

  53. du2vye says:

    When people leave personal things behind that usually means they have no idea where they are going or if they have a place to go. Most people know they are in foreclosure for quite awhile before loosing their home.

    I think that’s one of the points of the video. The level of desperation. Even one of the guy says he’s never seen it like this before.

    I’m glad I’m not on the housing market right now. It would be tough to take advantage of someone’s misfortune. With a house, I’d be thinking about the previous owners.

    My dad moved without telling anyone until 2 weeks before. That wasn’t enough time to drop everything and claim 40 years worth of memories 3,000 miles away. It wasn’t a foreclosure, just stubbornness and personality. But it will always be hurt and feel sad.