SYDNEY MINES, N.S. -- A pair of landlords in Cape Breton is dealing with a mess you have to see to believe.

They say their latest tenant left an apartment in such bad condition, the cleanup could take months, and will cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Tim and Renee Smith say they received a complaint about the smell coming from the residence by a neighbour. That led to the discovery that will now cost the couple more than $60,000 to repair. 

"I literally collapsed outside in front of the unit," said Renee Smith. "All I could do was cry. I just felt like all of his hard work was gone, and I knew by looking at it, it would be so much money to repair. I didn't know if we had the money."

Tim Smith has been in the rental business for more than 10 years, but says he's never seen anything like this.

"I pretty much almost passed out when I saw the state of the washroom," said Tim Smith. "I've seen lots of horror movies, but I've never seen anything like this."

Smith says a woman in her 50s lived in the apartment complex, which is in a neighbourhood with 40 other rental units for seniors.

To make matters worse, when Renee Smith checked their insurance policy, they weren't covered for the damage.

"Check your policy," Renee Smith said. "Make sure that you do have (coverage for) vandalism by tenant in it, because we never expected to be in this place in a million years."

The Smiths say their insurance policy doesn't cover vandalism by a tenant, which means they are not covered -- something they were not aware of.

Smith says police were contacted and the tenant was evicted. He says it took more than two weeks to find a company that was willing to tackle the job to clean it up.

"It's hard to believe somebody could do that much damage in a short time," Tim Smith said. "I was in there a year ago and all of this has happened since that time."

Renee Smith says it has caused the couple a lot of stress and anxiety.

"It hasn't been good for my health or my husband's health," she said.

The cleanup will take a couple of days and the repairs will take months, but the Smiths say none of that will recoup the money lost or erase the disturbing memories of what they were left to deal with.

The Smiths say they are searching for a new policy and are warning other landlords to do the same.