The Weekend Post - Real Estate


Seeing spirits, discoverin­g bodies and stumbling on chemical labs, it’s all in a day’s work for Martijn van Lith as Reshni Ratnam discovers


CLEANING piles of rotting rubbish left inside squatter-affected properties, stumbling across the skeleton of a “once missing cat” and being followed by a ghost is all in a day’s work for Martijn van Lith.

The trauma and forensic cleaning specialist has seen “a lot” of things in his time providing trauma decontamin­ation services across southeast Queensland.

And, he says, the finds can be quirky, creepy and often very unexpected.

“We clean anything a normal cleaner can’t,” says Martijn. “From deceased estates to blood spills at an apartment, squatter homes, and jails.”

During a forensic house cleaning at a Morningsid­e deceased estate a few years ago, Martijn was left feeling a “little on edge” when a white ghostly appearance started following him around the house.

He wasn’t the only one spooked by the white “eerie” sighting.

“Five others were helping to clean the property,” says Martijn. “The spirit was just following us and we didn’t feel right. We were constantly saying ‘Did you see that?’.

“It was a white ghost and it was like a spirit walking past the whole time.”


Other finds are even more confrontin­g. Martijn says one of his colleagues found a woman dead on the floor of her home, making the discovery after the owner hadn’t answered the door after a half-hour of knocking.

“No one was aware of her situation. The house was full of stuff, about 1.2m high, and the ground was compacted with faecal matter from her animals,” says Martijn. He says they found a cat carcass under the rubble and baby wipe containers used as portable loos.

“It was all so eerie,” says Martijn. “This lady’s father was a pharmacist and there was squalor underneath the house too. So many chemicals. There was 2.5L of nitric acid and we had to call in specialist­s to remove it. There was a lab underneath and it was dangerous.”


Martijn says hoarding specialist­s are often informed about missing pets in homes they are asked to clean out.

“More often than not they are found under piles of rubbish, decomposed after something heavy has fallen on top of them,” he says.

“I’ve come across dead birds, mice and snake skins. I found a cat that was obviously knocked out when a heavy book fell on it, it was on the floor flat, just a skeleton.”

Martijn isn’t the only one finding oddities at homes. For Sam Letchford, a first homebuyer on the Sunshine Coast, discoverin­g a secret pool in his backyard was an “absolute surprise”.

Sam bought the house in March and decided to landscape the yard with some friends.

“When we were working on the yard we found a bit of concrete. We discovered it was a path that had been covered with grass. We followed the path and it led to the shell of a pool which we then dug out the outline of,” he says.

Sam contacted his conveyance­r and was informed that due to the pool being formerly “decommissi­oned” the seller or agent didn’t need to tell him it was buried in the backyard.

“I’m not too sure if the agent did know about it. But I wasn’t told about it,” he says.


Master Builders Gold Coast regional manager Adam Profke says it’s always nice to find something significan­t in a building.

“It usually happens during renovation­s of older period homes, like Queensland­ers or Victorian-style builds,” says Adam. “They used to use newspapers as insulation so it’s always nice when you come across them. Some people value those finds more than others. If you like looking at history it’s pretty unique.”

He says other popular finds include old photos of original homeowners.

“Sometimes someone might buy a deceased estate and the new owners might find those old photos, or even a safe in the wall. Obviously we all want to find that pot of gold in the wall but that doesn’t always happen,” he says.

 ??  ?? Martijn van Lith specialise­s in forensic and trauma cleaning. Picture: Annette Dew
Martijn van Lith specialise­s in forensic and trauma cleaning. Picture: Annette Dew

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