Sellers took AC Unit

23 Replies

Hello. The sellers of a property I recently purchased took the AC unit with them after we closed. I couldn't get into the attic without a step ladder but when I return I'll check to see if they took the furnace too. Very disappointing. They were not happy with having to pay for repairs, lower the sales price and up their seller contributions so all fingers point to them. The backyard is completely fenced in and the gate has a latch that locks it into place. There are absolutely no signs of forced entry and the latch is down on the gate which locks it. My realtor reached out to theirs over the weekend and never received a response. I am going to file a police report when I return (I live in another state). The police department told me it's a civil matter (which I figured).

What are your thoughts? Do you think I have enough evidence to take them to court? I've bought several investment properties in the past and have never gone through this. :(

Hi Whitney,

Talk to an attorney local to the property.

You might be able to get a financial judgement (trebled).

Step one might be to get three bids on (comparable) replacement systems.

American Standard, Bryant, Carrier, Lennox and Trane are names of some furance and A/C (HVAC) manufactures.

And realize a new furnace A/C (HVAC) might force you to change the thermostats too (or not).

Trying to figure out costs on this yourself (with any resprayed insulation up there) might be pretty tough, (plus you have to buy whatever new refrigerant is required in your area--and the new stuff can be very very expensive).

You might be able to pick the brand you like best, or the one fastest installed vs the cheapest...ask an attorney.

Also, in a financial judgement, you have to collect...lien their wages or bank accounts (to the extent you are allowed to do so by THEIR Locality). So discuss that with the attorney too. Because an un-collectable judgement isn't very useful, nor is $3.00 a month for 10,000 months or some other such pecuniary payment scheme approved by the court.

Good Luck!

If you are talking about a window (or a sleeve) A/C unit on a SFH, that seems like personal property (unless it was set forth in the sale agreement to be left behind for you to own).

In which case $350 at Home Depot will probably solve that problem.

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@Whitney Tutt let the sellers know that you will be filing a police report for criminal larceny if you dont have $6k from them to replace the unit within 72 hours. They have no idea the police said they wont do anything.

Did they steal the outside compressor? How much do you think its worth? That would be a pretty bold move by the sellers (cutting the freon, electrcial, loading it up)  but anything is possible. I would report it stolen to the police. I wouldn't get into all the suspensions you have with the former sellers. They need to at least file a report, then you can file it on your insurance. 

That is super odd.  After speaking with the attorney, do a cost analysis on how much it will cost to replace versus opening an insurance claim versus going after the Sellers.  You will also have to prove it was the Sellers, which might be a tall order.

In either case, I do like the idea of filing the police report and letting the Sellers know that they may contact you for more information (since they were the last to see it).  It is almost like playing stupid and asking for help.

Document, document, document.  

Let your Agent talk to his Broker help to you. Try to reach out to the Agent's Broker!  In most states (not sure GA) the seller owns the property until midnight of the day of closing.  If you notice the missing units at the day of closing, then the seller is most likely a big concern.  I believe you have a voidable contract, you can opt out if hat's the case in your state, but make sure you have proof of this happening before midnight on the day of closing.  If that happens overnight after 12:00 pm after closing, then the police report etc will help.  I'm not sure in GA, ask your Agent's Broker and seek advice from an attorney/lawyer. 

Good luck.  

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@Craig Janet Yes, the outside compressor. I’m not sure of the worth just yet. Here’s a pic. I have a lot of interest in the property so need to act fast but I’ve delayed the potential tenants some to give me some time. I started the claim but will reach out to an attorney before I move forward with it. I forgot that was recommended on here. Thank you!

That unit looks pretty old, I can't imagine it being worth too much to the previous sellers. Especially after installation and compatibility issues with other inside units. Mostly likely it was dopeheads who realized the place was unoccupied and they sold it for scrap. With your insurance deductible it may not be worth a claim, especially if they don't pay for labor installation.   

I think you do not have the evidence to prove that the unit was stolen by the sellers.  After seeing the picture of it, I suspect it was not the seller.  It appears to be an old unit and likely was stolen and sold for scrap.

As for the police, I find many are lazy.  I had some police tell my wife (I was out of town so she had to deal with the initial issue solo) that a threat that showed a gun between different tenants (only one of the tenants was our tenant) was not something the police would get involved in.  I had a discussion with the police supervisor at the police station and explained liability and consequences (our tenant was indicating the were going to go get their own gun - I would not blame them).  The police went to talk with the person who made the threat.  I should not have needed to have the discussion to get the police to do their job.

If that AC unit was new then the theft definitely is a police matter and not just civil.  From the picture, the value likely makes the crime petty but it does suck because you will need to replace with a new unit that will cost you quite a bit of money.

I am sorry there are low lives who would do this $h1t.

Good luck

@Whitney Tutt air conditioner theft is not uncommon. People steal it for copper value. It is possible that the thieves saw the sellers moving and profiled the property after closing. I would not accuse the sellers without eyewitness proof. I wouldn't file an insurance claim, because it is not enough money and you risk having your insurance dropped. You want to save claims for major loss only. 

Securing properties after closing is critical. Change locks after closing. Put up motion security lights. Put lights inside the property on timers. Install security cameras or temporary security system. This is especially important when the property is out of state and nobody is living there.

They actually make cages to bolt around AC units, so they cannot be stolen. Some areas are prone to repetitive theft, so research how common this is before installing a new unit.

@Whitney Tutt I agree with others, based on the age, I just don't imagine the seller made the effort to remove a more or less obsolete unit. It'd be worth pennies to them in comparison to risking you doing a last-minute walk-through and refusing to close due to it being missing. To especially confirm that, check if the unit inside is still there because it'll have to match. Those sellers would have to have an extreme level of spite to make a move like this.

Most likely neighborhood bums took it. Either go with the cage like @Joe Splitrock suggested, or if your building is 2 story and brick, I've had platforms built that extend off the side of the building. Or you could even mount it on the roof in the rear with a steel platform.

I don’t see how seller would swipe a unit like that especially one that was old. The resell would not be that much. Actually you could probably find a used one if that one was all that special. Without actual proof that the the seller stole it you’re basically making accusations in vain. I’m not saying they didn’t steal it, but I sure could not improve it…could you? If you got a great deal on the house I wouldn’t harassing the sellers. 

Thanks everyone. Most of my properties do have the caged units and we’ll be doing the same with this one. I’ve been torn about filing a claim. Thanks for the advice on that also. I guess I’ll stop suspecting the sellers now 🤣