Working flat out to solve housing crisis
The saying, leave it as you would like to find it, had obviously never reached the ears of the council tenants who recently vacated two homes I went to see last week.
With a boiler ripped apart in one and blue paint splashed around the other, it is easy to understand why there are more than 100 homes not occupied.
I had been warned the two flats I would see were particularly bad examples and that most tenants take good care of their homes.
Accompanied by Hazel Butcher, head of Croydon Council's repair team, who assess how much work needs to be done to a property before new tenants move in, I set off to the first and most shocking property in Davidson Road.
What I saw, and most notably smelt, was unbelievable. The former occupants of the bedsit had attempted to rip a boiler from the wall and take it with them before they left. Water covered the floor and a very smelly carpet squished under my feet. Furniture was thrown all over the place and the bathroom was a disgusting mess.
I was surprised and impressed when Hazel said it would be ready for new tenants within 20 days.
"Only one in every 10 is as bad as this," she said. "We inspect the homes as soon as they are vacated and categorise them based on the amount of work needed. This would be what we call a major works void, meaning it would be turned around within 20 days and be ready for the next residents."
A major works void is the worse state a home can be in. The best can be ready in three days, others take a week.
The second home we visit is in Cromwell House - a 1960s concrete block of flats near the flyover. This was in better condition but the previous residents had still decided to splash blue paint all over the living room and left wet paper covering most of the floor.
Hazel added: "Once we have decided what category the flat, the contractors will be in the next day to clear it out and see what condition the floor is in."
With the huge need for council homes in Croydon increasing all the time, having 100 empty ones seems nonsensical.
But when people leave them in such states it is not surprising new tenants cannot just walk straight in after the previous ones walk out.