Theft is a serious issue which many landlords will face. Figures suggest around 30% of tenants have 'taken' items during or at the end of their tenancies. This seems a surprisingly high figure. Yet it won’t surprise some landlords. Tenants have admitted taking items ranging from cutlery to beds.
White goods seem to be a popular target. Stories of landlords finding kitchens stripped of appliances are legion. And it really is astonishing what people will take. Yet still, landlords aren’t creating inventories at the start of a tenancy.
One-third of tenants stealing means two-thirds aren't. Many landlords won't have to worry about theft.
Nevertheless, it can't be denied that a significant number of tenants do steal from their landlords. So why do they do it?
A survey from Direct Line in 2016 revealed tenants removed items because:
A tenant taking a washing machine without realising it didn’t belong to them is difficult to believe. Though it’s easy to understand others. Cutlery hastily packed as the end of the tenancy looms for example.
The same survey estimated a tenant can make off with £500 worth of items. That is a serious hit to any landlord's balance sheet.
It may well be the figures are skewed slightly as problem tenants, those who wilfully damage property and build up rent arrears will account for the majority of large thefts. It may also have been an unrepresentative or small sample size. Nevertheless, landlords do need to protect themselves from theft as much as possible.
We've stressed before the importance of an inventory. Yet it seems in many cases where a tenant has admitted to stealing an inventory wasn't completed.
Of course, an inventory won't make the slightest difference to a tenant who does a moonlight flit. But it will make a difference to others and an inventory is a valuable tool for the landlord looking to reduce theft.
A comprehensive inventory will deter most tenants who may be predisposed to steal. It also makes it far easier for the landlord to prove theft when withholding the deposit.
But don't take things too far. If the odd teaspoon or pan lid is missing chalk it up to natural wastage. Don't sour a relationship with a tenant for the sake of a few easily replaceable items.
Apart from an inventory landlords should ensure their insurance covers all fixtures and fittings. Especially if the property is fully furnished.
Those landlords who are letting out their own homes should remove anything of value. The rule of thumb here is not to leave anything in the property which you would be upset to lose.
Another way to minimise the risk of theft is by simply building a good relationship with the tenant. A good relationship builds trust and respect on both sides.
Despite the seemingly high figures tenant theft is never an issue for most landlords. The majority of tenants are perfectly trustworthy and wouldn't dream of removing anything from the property. But it is sensible for any landlord to protect themselves against the minority of tenants who do steal.
We provide a full range of property management service for landlords. When you’ve found the right tenant arrange for one of our qualified independent Inventory clerks to attend the property and produce an inventory report for you. To find good tenants fast, list your rental property with MakeUrMove today.