When I arrived home, I sent a courteously forceful email to Alexander, telling him that if he didn't sort everything out then the agents would have to, and it would be a charge against his deposit. Deposits aren't held by landlords any longer, they are held by a central body and both parties have to agree to any charges or deductions. I hate to make a charge on a deposit. My children have been tenants and they've had tricky landlords as well as excellent ones, and I don't care for the sort who use any excuse to make a deduction.
Alexander phoned that evening, in some dismay. He had arranged with the incoming tenant, he said, that everything he left would be taken over. "But you didn't tell me or the agent, so how was I to know that?" I asked. In any case, I added, he hadn't returned the keys. He said that his girlfriend had said she'd do that. He was in Spain, where he was - still working for the same firm - now based. I said I'd have to confirm it with the new tenant.
I've spoken to the tenant. He has never met A. He's been to the flat this evening and there's far more stuff there than he can take on. I'd said that it would have, in all fairness to A, be all or nothing as if he didn't want the large items of furniture it wasn't reasonable for him to take the wine, the robot floor-cleaning thingy, the nice lamp or the chunky glasses.
So I issued another ultimatum to A. He's emailed back saying he'll come over and sort it and wants the deadline extended by a day. He says he spoke to *someone* and presumably that person decided against renting the flat. More fool A for not telling me or the agent. He could well be telling the truth, but it's not my concern.
Anyhoo, this has taken more time than I wanted it to. At least I've had a couple of conversations with the new tenant and he is being patient and good-natured about the situation. I suppose it could be argued that I've demonstrated that I'm both reasonable and tough, which is useful for a tenant to know.
My lovely downstairs tenant can stay as long as he likes. He may not know that I could be getting a lot more money for that flat, but a good tenant is worth keeping without putting his rent up, and I'll keep it as it is for a while longer at least. He keeps it immaculate, deals with small problems without bothering me, and didn't turn a hair when I had to tell him I'd burrowed through his cupboard, removing half his clothes (the ones hanging up, not the ones he was wearing) so that the electrical and gas safety checks could be done in the cupboard behind.