Tenant took the furnace

15 Replies

I recently bought a property, and had to evict the uncooperative tenant. During the eviction process, the tenant complained that she had recently paid for a new furnace (Forced Air Unit) and was angry that she was getting kicked out.

After I got I got a chance to go inside the vacant property, I saw that the furnace had been removed. She must have taken it with her or sold it, or something.

Are there any laws against this, and can I do anything about it?

It might be possible to prevail in small claims court - if you knew where to serve her and felt like spending your time suiing her... Even then, what's a judgement against a bankrupt person worth? my .02 is chalk it up and move on.

Hi MIke,

Wow, that is pretty extreme. Is there any truth to her claim of saying she paid for a new furnance?


Well, obviously there are laws against theft. But you don't know what unit was there or who took it. Is it possible that the furnace belonged to the tenant? Did you buy the property from a landlord or at trustee's sale? You said the tenant was uncooperative. Do you mean she didn't/wouldn't pay rent? Or that she didn't make it easy for you to terminate her tenancy?

If you bought a property without seeing the interior before you bought it, that's the risk. I'm guessing you are looking at a $3-5K replacement cost. IMO it would be a waste of time to make a police report or show up in small claims without proof of what was stolen.

Is there any validity to the claim she bought the furnace?

Did she actually pay for the furnace? If she did, it seems as if she should be able to take it with her unless you had something in writing telling her that if she bought it, it had to stay.

If she didn't pay for it or if you had something in writing that it should stay, then I don't see why you couldn't file a police report for theft. And add that as part of the unpaid rent claim you probably already have against her as part of the eviction process.

The only question is whether you actually think you'll be able to collect for it and, if not, whether its worth your time to do something about it.

I would have no problem filing the police report and letting them know where she's at. If nothing else, it might cause her a little bit of headache/worry.

She may have bought the furnace. I don't know. Right after she lost the eviction case in court, she told me that she was going to sue me to get the money that she paid for the new furnace and new windows (which I thought was ridiculous, since I never authorized those purchases). I ignored her, and when I finally went into the property later, the furnace was gone. At least the windows were still there.

I evicted her because she wasn't paying rent ever since I took over as the new owner.

You guys are probably right that it's not worth going through the court process again. I just thought that even if she did pay for the furnace, it's a fixture that should not be allowed to be removed.

why would you allow the tenant to buy the furnace? what happens if her "friend" installed it, does a bad job and blows up your house?

are you the kind of landlord that does nothing for the house/tenant?

Typically a lease does state that something like a furnace becomes part of the property and must be left behind.

You will probably have to pursue her in court. If she has the money to buy a furnace and windows, perhaps she has money you could recover. I find it bizarre a tenant would install these things. And then not pay the rent.

I had no idea that she bought a furnace. I bought the property from a wholesaler who bought it from the previous owner. Apparently the previous owner had an agreement with the tenant that the tenant would take care of all maintenance and purchases, which is why her rent was so low. So that would explain why she bought the furnace and windows.

When I acquired the property, my plan was to start fresh by fixing the place up, bringing the rent up to market rate, and being a proper landlord. So the first step was to gain possession of the property.

ok. that makes a little more sense. btw, you should always be there when someone like that is moving out. you never know if she will take the cabinets or pour cement down the drain pipes...

It sounds like previous owner gave rent concessions in exchange for furnace. If you can verify this with a call to previous ownership then...Call police file report and send a nasty gram to wreck her credit stating she owes your company 4k to purchase furnace she toke.
You might not collect but to send mail to Trans union Equifax and Experian is cheap even 1st class or certified mail is less then 10 dollars.
This is too big a loss to just ignore. I always pay 100 to file and get money action judgment on people like this. To let them go, is a way for them to screw the next guy and they can laugh at you knowing you did nothing. I know it sounds like your getting back what your doing is forcing them to pay dearly if they dont pay you back. Having crappy credit is a good way to send a message to a tenant that steals.
If you cannot verify previous owner gave rent concession then a court battle might be tough to win and just a letter to credit bureau would be what I would do.
Then you could report non pmt of rent too;)
My line for filing in small claims court is between 800 and 1000 in losses. Its just not worth it chasing people for money it seems like throwing good dollars away. How ever I know that if I let enough people think Im weak that may make me a target. To protect myself I attempt to collect. If I do an eviction there is an automatic money action I can do that doesn't cost extra.
The wealth of the wicked is laid up for the righteous. My 2 cents
BTW: for the record I had a new water heater taken from me by a tenant 2 years ago. I didnt try to sue because she was an inherited tenant I got when I bought apt building. It was a loss of 600. I also never got her info from previous landlord because they were out of state seller. I chalked it up to risk/reward of taking over property from an absentee previous owner.
Over the years when people tell me its great property buy since its occupied I have been known to tell the seller agent or ect how do I know its a good deal maybe i wind up evicting all the tenants because none will qualify as decent tenants in a building I would own. So I have this thing in me that always makes me believe in any multi unit I buy that the previous landlord might not be as picky as I am getting good paying tenants. This is the key to less damage and theft on property the other key is location.
Its hard to always be there when they move out so its best just to bring in quality tenants to start with that will be honorable. Having immaculate credit is a start with applicants

Originally posted by @William Bannister :
... Having immaculate credit is a start with applicants

William Bannister - your post had me in agreement for the most part - until you wrote what is left in that quote, because that is an unrealistic expectation to have for tenant applicants.

I understand, Start with immaculate credit and work your way down. Some things I dont hold a tenant accountable form others I am highly suspect of.
My 1st 2 things I automatically deny tenants applications is drug convictions and evictions less then 7 years old. That is the kiss of death for me.
Credit non pmts I might let medical or collections if I deem the collection to be non related to housing and utilities. I will go thru an application and pick it apart like an underwriter does. I am looking at character and pmt history and income and all the things that I can knowingly see about a person I really dont know.
Of course most with immaculate credit wont be renters long;) I do get tenants with perfect credit but I will agree its the bottom side of 50% that have a better then 700 triscore.

Ok Mike why don't you let these people know what really happened. You purchased this property while there was a LEASE with PURCHASE OPTION in effect until 6/2015. And which I might say had First Option as per the signed agreement. Which was signed by the previous owner. You never once notified the resident that there was a sale going on. You even knew about this Lease with Purchase option because you had a copy of it submitted in court when you did your eviction. The reason why that house was only 500.00 per moth and 75% to be put away for the purchase was because at the time the contract was made up there were NO WINDOWS, DOORS, WALLS, A?C, HEATING, hell there wasn't even an electrical meter because this house was a drug infested house and the reason was because his own son a 50yr. old man was a drug addict. The day the property was yours you texted the resident stating that you were a property management company and the rent was now 1300.00. As per the lease agreement prior to you buying the property it specifically stated that the person was buying the house As-Is. The resident did not steal that furnace. You left that house alone for 1 week after you were able to enter it. What did you expect??? This area is infested with drug dealers, gangs and so on. So don't start talking like you were the victim. You knowingly purchased a house when it was under a binding contract with someone else until 6/2015.

You bought that house knowing there was an existing lease with purchase contact valid until 6/2015. You never once called or looked in the house. But that was because you were being sneeky and did not want me to know that I was being cheated. I put over 10,000 into that house over the past 2 years because I was buying it. And you knew it. You have the nerve to claim that I took it. Well, you left that house alone for 2 weeks after I moved out and I know there were people just going through it because of the neighborhood. i even warned you not to leave that house alone. And now you want to say that you are a victim. No I was. You were the one going behind my back and buying a house when you knew I had First Option as per my signed contract. You are pathetic.

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