My tenant has always been an absolute gem, so was no surprise to find the flat spotless when she moved out. You can imagine my shock to discover that she had moved all her belongings out - and stolen my relatively new freestanding fridge as well! What do I do? Should I involve the police?
How frustrating! It’s never nice when a good tenancy ends on a sour note.
Research by the NLA Property Insurance demonstrate that the most common thefts from landlords are that of white goods such as fridges and washing machines, central heating systems and copping piping, so sadly, your situation is not as unusual as you may hope.
It is unlikely that the police are going to assist hugely, as this is classed as a civil matter, so you need to rely on your own preparations to sort this situation out.
The most important document to deal with the issue this will be your inventory. This should have detailed description of any items that you provided to the tenant at the start of the tenancy (including white goods, furniture, soft furnishings etc). Upon completing a check out inventory, you should document the fact that the fridge is missing. If you have photographic evidence within your fridge in situ, make sure you take a subsequent photograph of the space where the fridge should be - this might feel a little silly but it will certainly illustrate that it is not where it should be!
If you have secured a deposit from your tenant, this may go some way to helping pay for the loss. You mentioned that your tenant left the property in a good condition, so with any luck there shouldn’t be any deductions to make for maintenance works on the property. This is a huge benefit as you may have enough funds to help with replacing the missing item.
For large items like fridges, ovens and washing machines, make sure that you always keep hold of the original purchasing receipts. You will obviously have to buy a new fridge, and if you can purchase a like-for-like at a similar price point, evidence such as the existing receipt and the new one may be helpful to the deposit dispute team when deciding how much of your tenant’s deposit to award to you to pay for the new item.
Although it sounds like obvious advice, make sure you change the locks to your property now that the tenant has gone. Whilst you would hope that the tenant wouldn’t let themselves in to the property to help themselves to anymore of your white goods. You would be surprised as to how many landlords fail to carry out this simple security measure at the end of a tenancy - (do make sure that you do not change the locks until your tenant has absolutely surrendered the tenancy though, all the time they still have a valid tenancy agreement in place, they still have rights to enter the property)!
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