Tenant Wants to Take Toilets that they installed

83 Replies

This may be a question for people specifically in Washington. One of our tenants was on a 2 year lease option with us but decided to back out before the 2 years was up. The tenant is claiming since he installed 2 new toilets while they were living there, that he can remove them and take them when they vacate. I would assume this is not correct because it would cause "damage" to the property if removed. Thanks in advance for the help!

Originally posted by @Adam Soelberg :

This may be a question for people specifically in Washington. One of our tenants was on a 2 year lease option with us but decided to back out before the 2 years was up. The tenant is claiming since he installed 2 new toilets while they were living there, that he can remove them and take them when they vacate. I would assume this is not correct because it would cause "damage" to the property if removed. Thanks in advance for the help!

Adam,

Talk to a real estate attorney and have him/her review your contract. What does your contract says about property improvements that the tenant/buyer put in? Did he ask your permission to put in the toilets? I am assuming your property has toilets that were there before? If so, maybe ask them to put the old toilets back or bring the property to the same condition they've found it when they started renting?

@Adam Soelberg - I'm not from that Washington, however here's my thought: tenant does have the right to take their 2 new toilets with them.

That said, they need to return it back to how it was when they moved in with 2 operational toilets. So if they kept the old ones, good for them. If not, they need to find two similar and have them installed. 

Personally, I feel it's a brainless move on the part of the tenant - unless these are super duper amazing and expensive toilets. A decent toilet costs maybe $120. The time and expense of removing the new ones and having the old reinstalled simply isn't worth it. Is there something else going on....is it spite?

This is silly season. A decent new toilet costs $150. A good used one costs next to nothing. Let the tenant have the toilets, put in new ones yourself or have a handyman do it.

@Tchaka Owen it is a little bit of spite. They were very friendly when we first met them, but then they started getting very angry about small things (small blemish on kitchen floor after refrigerator was repaired). We’ve tried working with them, we’re even allowing them to stay an extra week rent free in the property.

He got upset because we need to show the house to prospective tenants. That’s when he started threading taking things.

from what I understand, if it is attached to the property it is a fixture and stays with the property.

Let your tenant know that if he takes the toilets that you’ll be billing him for the full cost to have them replaced. 

Of course check your lease and local laws but...

No, you don't get to take the toilets with you - omg. Are they going to strip the paint they applied too?

Hmm...me thinks there is more to this story.

Why are they leaving? Why did they pay for the toilets in the first place? If the old toilets were broken, why didn't you pay for the expense? Did they break them?

This is one reason, of many reasons, why landlords should do the work and not the tenants.

@Adam Soelberg --sure sounds like the honeymoon is over!  A toilet is not personal property, it is a fixture.  It belongs to the property once it's installed.

I'd be more concerned about what they may do to the unit upon vacating.  Their thinking is they gave you $xxxx.xx for the option payment, and they forfeit that of course.  That does not sit well, at least that's my experience with all the tenants we have done lease options with.  I had one lease/option tenant strip the house--doors, closet racks, light fixtures etc.  

I suggest you make sure you are there on move out day.  Oh, and make sure to bring Bubba with you.

@Marc Winter That is also our concern. We are trying to work with them as much as possible so that does not happen. We have had something like that happen on a previous lease option as well (however, not to that extreme). We will definitely be there on move out day with Bubba.

Thanks Marc

what's technically correct and what's practical are different

You shouldn't have let them pay for and install new toilets 

They shouldn't take the toilets with them, and if they do they should put the old ones back in 

but the reality is you're looking at ~$300 worth of materials and maybe a bit more after labor. Take if from their security deposit after they are already gone if they leave the place toilet-less, but if you say they are spiteful, the most important thing is to GET THEM OUT before they can inflict any more spite onto you. 

@Adam Soelberg

Why did they replace toilets to begin with?

An option, I missed that. Yup, definitely an important part of the story. Sigh.

You made that bed.

@Alexander Felice @Matt M. Alexander, I definitely see where you're coming from. We are definitely leaning toward the more practical route. 

There were clean and functioning toilets when they moved in. He won't give us a clear answer on why he replaced them. We were unaware that he did. He does not have the old toilets anymore, so if they are taken out, we would have to install new ones which is what I think we will end up having to do.

Thank you for your comments!

@Adam Soelberg

Since there was no explanation, no complaints of bad toilets, etc, I would for sure hire someone and deduct the cost of 2 toilets from their security. I’ve seen and heard of tenants doing a lot of wacky things, but this is a good one. Who takes toilets?!

Dont argue with them just ding the deposit

He needs to leave the place in the same condition as it was when he moved in...that means two working toilets.

Once your tenant bolted those toilets to your floor they became your property, period.  No difference then a fancy stereo in a repossessed car.

If a tenant replaces or alters any item in the house without your permission and knowledge.... then they are responsible for returning the unit back to the original condition....which they can't do since they got rid of the original toilets.

This is a battle I would not fight while the tenant is in place...... let them take the toilets and then charge them for them once they move out since the unit is no longer in the same condition it was on move in.

If the toilets were broken and the tenant notified me, I would have replaced them...... since they made no indication of an issue and took it upon themselves to alter my unit, I'm not paying for anything they changed

Chalk it up to a loss , I’d stop doing rent to own nonsense . 80% of the people never actually excerise the option and ultimately they just trash the place out of spite

@Adam Soelberg

All good comments but the time and effort it would cost you to pursue this legally outweighs the cost to replace.

Who cars what your lease says just take out your cost from there security deposit and let them sue you for the $300 if they choose.

@Dennis M. I know that is the case for a majority of the U.S., but we have been doing lease options for many years now and have had a lot of success. We vet our applicants very thoroughly and work with them along the way to ensure they can purchase the home during the 2 year period. A tenant leaving in spite like this has only happened to us once before on a lease option. We have actually had worse luck here with just straight rental properties.

But yes, we will have to chalk this one up to a loss unfortunately.

That’s is comical. Unless Washington has crazy landlord laws, the norm is if tenants modify the property with or withour permition, do repairs, or improvements, it becomes part of the property. Thus the landlord now owns it, and the tenant was being foolish to put their time or money into a property they did not own. Sucks for them, end of the day they take them or they don’t, you bill them for the repairs.

Originally posted by @Adam Soelberg :

@Dennis M. I know that is the case for a majority of the U.S., but we have been doing lease options for many years now and have had a lot of success. We vet our applicants very thoroughly and work with them along the way to ensure they can purchase the home during the 2 year period. A tenant leaving in spite like this has only happened to us once before on a lease option. We have actually had worse luck here with just straight rental properties.

But yes, we will have to chalk this one up to a loss unfortunately.

 Ok I didn’t realize you guys were that experienced in this strategy , best of luck 

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