Finally happened, my tenants took my stove, frige & washer/dryer

12 Replies

Had a tenant move out last week and seems like they got me.  They've been good renters for 3 years and when they moved, I guess they just felt like I owed them a favor.  They blew my phone up over the past few weeks to sign their landlord verification for their new place, but now I can't get them on the phone and I threw that paper away( dumb me) Oh well.  Should I go after them in court or what? 

@Kris Haskins

Just make sure that the appliances you placed in the house didn't break down and get replaced. If they did, you could be on shaky ground, especially if you said the appliances were there and had no warranty. If they broke and were replaced by the tenant, they is certainly an argument that the personal property belongs to them.

Next, if they weren't replaced, ask yourself if the appliances are worth the effort going forward. To be sure, in this case, it certainly appears to be theft, but make sure you are on solid ground as you don't want to be on the wrong side of a lawsuit. Sometimes, you just need to eat the sinach and hope it makes you stronger.

Absolutely.  If you have serial numbers or pictures of the appliances in the property that should be enough to get you a judgment.  You may never be able to collect on the judgment but at least you can go in and flag the tenant in a background database somewhere that they took your items and make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.

If you still have it keep their deposit and take them to court for the remainder of the balance.

Well that stinks.  If you have it written in your agreement that you provide that, you may have a case.  However keep in mind you will need to prove it and if you get a judgment it is another thing to collect.  It maybe best to cut your loses unless you spend a couple of grand on them.  Why these days I get good used appliances.

If this was your property don't let them get away with it. Filing a criminal theft complaint is free. Let the police handle it.

can you claim that on your insurance?  That  really suck!  I have ran into a few low life trash.  Just profile better is my advice.  If they look like trash they are. Sad to say but your chances are better profiling. 

Kris,  not to be harsh but sounds like you didn't follow the systems experienced landlords develop to reduce their risk.

The walkthrough checklist and pictures before move in and after (for any damaged items), collecting keys, and addressing any damage with the tenant on move out day is Standard Operating Procedure.  

You will need to send them a formal letter requesting they return the items, using their last known address withing a certain amount of days.  Next you will determine the fair market value of the appliances at the time they were taken then add any delivery charges or fees and installation costs.  This will be your damage replacement basis.

If they do Not return the appliances then send them an itemized list of damages, deduct the damages from the Security Deposit and return the remaining security deposit to the last known address.

Or file against the tenants Renter's Insurance policy for the items that were taken.  You did make sure to have them get renter's insurance to reduce your liability if someone slips and falls inside the property, a pet bites or knocks down someone and they are injured?

The Virginia Landlord Act Section § 55-248.15:1 Security Deposits, instructs on how they need to be handled.

A few additional tips is Keep Records, you can take a picture of the doc with phone, scan to pdf.  A landlord is suppose to hold the records in case of IRS audit for some years.

Scan to PDF and password protect the rent checks from tenants.  You want to know their account number and Not have to file all the court paperwork and bank paperwork, 10 secs scanning, helps.

You say "They've been good renters for 3 years", but then they took the appliances.  I cannot imagine that someone would have been a good renter and actually passed a background check that would do that.  I would guess the credit scores were low.

I have had 100s of renters.  I never lost a single appliance.  Your appliances are in the tenants next rental.  Used appliances are nearly worthless, they likely did not get sold.

A little tough love like @Jeff B.   gave you:  

Sounds like according to the title of this thread.... "Finally happened" that your mindset has been all along someone would do this to you.  There is zero reason this should happen if your running the rental like a business and "They've been good renters for 3 years".

Why do you believe anything bad should "Finally happen"?

Bad things happen to good people but I would look inside your mindset first to keep this from happening again and manifesting itself. 

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION:  Yes go after them and follow the law as stated above! 

Best of luck! 

File a police report for THEFT. It will only cost you a phone call and/or trip down to the station. Bring photos of the appliances and all info you have on the tenants.

In the future make sure to complete and have tenants sign a walk through document when they move in and when they move out. This will also be your backup when you need to charge their security deposit.

Did you return their security deposit before knowing about the missing appliances? You have 30 days in most states to return their deposit, so make sure you do your inspection first. 

Originally posted by @Justin Morgan :

A little tough love like @Jeff B.   gave you:  

Sounds like according to the title of this thread.... "Finally happened" that your mindset has been all along someone would do this to you.  There is zero reason this should happen if your running the rental like a business and "They've been good renters for 3 years".

Why do you believe anything bad should "Finally happen"?

Bad things happen to good people but I would look inside your mindset first to keep this from happening again and manifesting itself. 

TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION:  Yes go after them and follow the law as stated above! 

Best of luck! 

Hey, I didn't mean the "finally" like I was waiting for this to happen, or eve expected it.  I merely feel like if you're in this business for enough years, you're bound to see all types of crazy things happen.  I have great tenants for the most part.  Not sure how this one turned out like this.  All other rentals are great...

Be careful with the Police. Don't tell them you know it was tenants. What you want is a simple theft police report. You say: I opened the door and this was stolen. Don't say more! You need that clean police report without notes about tenants.

The reason for this is: The police believe that if the issue is with tenants, this must be handled by the courts before they can be sure it was a real theft. (he said she said stuff) The police may tell you, the courts must decide.

You don't want that situation. You need the clean police report.