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rated:
Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

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nice epeen?

rufflesinc (Jan. 12, 2017 @ 6:44a) |

just curious, which upscale town in nj is this?

d3vil (Jan. 12, 2017 @ 11:44p) |

On the bright side, perhaps this is a good time to switch the house to gas heat? At least you don't need to pay to have ... (more)

Lurker1999 (Jan. 13, 2017 @ 1:21p) |

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rated:
I would definitely file a police report. The HO claim depends on what your deductible is. My father had a tenant who stole the copper pipes after he moved out.

rated:
- Do you have loadlord policy? If not, I would be very wary of even talking to your insurance.

- Do you have their email? Email and mail certified mail (to be forwarded) their deposit accounting. you need to do this within 30 days, most likely, regardless if you are going to return deposit or not.

- Take a lot of pictures. Oh, I hope you had pictures of the "before", right?

Inspect two weeks later? You know that's a terrible idea.

rated:
"two weeks after" nothing bad can happen in two weeks. That's enough time that now the tenants can claim it was there when they left and must have been removed after. Better hope you Landlord policy covers it or an expensive lesson of $3-5000 for a new furnace and radiators.

rated:
gade2003 said:   Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

  
What is your evidence that the tenant removed the heating equipment and not anyone else in New Jersey?  Two weeks is a lot of time for bad things to happen to vacant houses.

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Have you called/emailed your tenant? Was the tenant otherwise spotless on payments, issues, etc?

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gade2003 said:   The tenants left no future address
 

  
Did they have a security deposit? Does the lease or law require them to provide a forwarding address? If they're really trying to avoid contact that could be evidence of bad faith on their part.

rated:
NEDeals said:   
gade2003 said:   Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

  
What is your evidence that the tenant removed the heating equipment and not anyone else in New Jersey?  Two weeks is a lot of time for bad things to happen to vacant houses.

  lack of forced entry?

rated:
That's not a tenant from hell .
That's a I left the place alone for 2 weeks and found this out.

Will the HO Claim need a police report?

rated:
forbin4040 said:   That's not a tenant from hell .
That's a I left the place alone for 2 weeks and found this out.

Will the HO Claim need a police report?

  Yes, if the loss is theft.  They will need a case #.

rated:
I dealt with similar situations to this somewhat frequently during my 7 years as a patrolman. I hope you called the police the moment you realized the entire heating system was STOLEN out of your house. If the thieves recycled the scrap metal for a few bucks, the scrapyards might have a record of who they handed the money over to. Many states/localities require that record keeping. Regardless, the police will handle that, so it's not your concern.

This is the exact reason you have homeowners insurance that covers burglary and theft. You do have that coverage, right? What other course of action is there for you to take other than making a report and filing an insurance claim? If you didn't call the police immediately, why didn't you?

rated:
Thanks for all the comments, advice and suggestions!

- Yes, I have photos of all rooms and equipment before.

- No signs of forced entry. It's an upscale area but not ruling it out regardless. Will let PO make their determination.

- Tenant was behind on rent by several months. It happens but NJ tenant laws make it extremely time consuming to evict (6+ months). You're thankful when they just leave so you can cut your losses.

- Tenant also appears to have installed a single electric baseboard in the kitchen. We had breifly discussed them buying the property about half way through the term (while rent was current) so I think they got ahead of themselves and something happened financially. They never sought or were given permission to modify heating. I assume things got really tight and they got desperate.

rated:
I doubt that your LL policy will cover it unless you have added "vandalism protection clause in it." Whenever I am between tenants, my insurance agent recommends me to add that for a the time when property is vacant.

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Will or has your water pipes frozen and busted? Drain goose necks?

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well I have to say the 2 week space makes it hard to determine what happened so that could complicate you holding the tenant responsible. Then again if it is a upscale area I would bet many of the neighbors have cameras facing the street. I would ask the neighbors if they saw anything or had video. I have several rentals and many of them 2 hours away from me. I make a point to befriend neighbors and stay connected to the nextdoor group they are located in. I would have to say this reads to me as being your fault to a large degree to me but your ins. should cover you and then probably drop you

rated:
Read your insurance policy. Should clearly state coverage amounts and exclusions. If you did not have a landlord policy (i.e. you just kept your regular homeowner policy after moving from property), I wouldn't bother and consider it an expensive lesson.

A police report likely makes sense in any case though.

rated:
OP you didn't mention if you had insurance.
If you didn't, then move on.  (You did say HO claim, so I will assume you have insurance)

If you did, then file. (Need to get a police report).  

Do not blame the tenant.
You cannot go after the tenant since you took 2 weeks to inspect. You said this tenant didn't even pay rent for several months? They might have sold all that stuff even before they left.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
gade2003 said:   Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

  
What is your evidence that the tenant removed the heating equipment and not anyone else in New Jersey?  Two weeks is a lot of time for bad things to happen to vacant houses.

  lack of forced entry?

  
Picking a lock also yields a lack of forced entry.  Not having a locked door in the first place, or crawling in a window, or pressing a garage door button in a  car, etc. etc. does the same.  Lack of forced entry is hardly going to make a prosecutor's case beyond reasonable doubt against a tenant. 

rated:
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
gade2003 said:   Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

  
What is your evidence that the tenant removed the heating equipment and not anyone else in New Jersey?  Two weeks is a lot of time for bad things to happen to vacant houses.

  lack of forced entry?

  
Picking a lock also yields a lack of forced entry.  Not having a locked door in the first place, or crawling in a window, or pressing a garage door button in a  car, etc. etc. does the same.  Lack of forced entry is hardly going to make a prosecutor's case beyond reasonable doubt against a tenant. 

  i don't think OP is looking to put the tenant in jail, just get a civil judgement. The burden of proof is "preponderance of the credible evidence". With no forced entry, is it more likely than not that the tenant took it or failed to secure the house when leaving?

If the tenant didn't lock the door or secure all windows when leaving, then  that's on them.

rated:
Something strange here ... why did they leave the heat in the kitchen that they installed?

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
gade2003 said:   Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

  
What is your evidence that the tenant removed the heating equipment and not anyone else in New Jersey?  Two weeks is a lot of time for bad things to happen to vacant houses.

  lack of forced entry?

  
Picking a lock also yields a lack of forced entry.  Not having a locked door in the first place, or crawling in a window, or pressing a garage door button in a  car, etc. etc. does the same.  Lack of forced entry is hardly going to make a prosecutor's case beyond reasonable doubt against a tenant. 

  i don't think OP is looking to put the tenant in jail, just get a civil judgement. The burden of proof is "preponderance of the credible evidence". With no forced entry, is it more likely than not that the tenant took it or failed to secure the house when leaving?

If the tenant didn't lock the door or secure all windows when leaving, then  that's on them.
 

  Still need to be proved though that they didn't secure it.   All the tenants have to do is to show the judge/jury the google search of how thieves do the lock-picking.  Or for that matter, the tenant can say that the owner did it ! The owner had access to the property and time (two weeks) !

rated:
Important note to OP: No one besides you knows that you waited two weeks to visit the property. You may want to keep it that way.

rated:
Rajjeq said:   Important note to OP: No one besides you knows that you waited two weeks to visit the property. You may want to keep it that way.
  You are recommending OP lie to the police and commit insurance fraud?  That is bad advice all around and could easily be shown false by the prior tenants.

OP should have called the police prior to posting here and told them the truth.  And then called their insurance company.  Its up to the police to determine who is guilty not OP.

I am also an accidental Landlord and no way would I have my tenants move out without looking at the home at the time they are moving out.  I live about 3.5 hours away but will make sure I am there and definitely not 2 weeks later.

rated:
ach1199 said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
gade2003 said:   Hello fellow FWF!

I have a single family rental in NJ, roughly 200 miles from my residence (long story).  Signed a year long lease with a tenant who stayed at the property for the full year.  I arrived two weeks after their move out to inspect and found the oil furnace, all cast iron radiators (aside from one) and the actual in-basement oil tank completely removed and missing.  Literally the entire heating system gone.  No signs of a break in or other damange.  The tenants left no future address but I am in the process of trying to retrieve their USPS forwarding address.

This is a very strange situation that I couldn't have even imagined.  Any thoughts on a course of action?  My knee jerk is a police report and HO claim.

  
What is your evidence that the tenant removed the heating equipment and not anyone else in New Jersey?  Two weeks is a lot of time for bad things to happen to vacant houses.

  lack of forced entry?

  
Picking a lock also yields a lack of forced entry.  Not having a locked door in the first place, or crawling in a window, or pressing a garage door button in a  car, etc. etc. does the same.  Lack of forced entry is hardly going to make a prosecutor's case beyond reasonable doubt against a tenant. 

  i don't think OP is looking to put the tenant in jail, just get a civil judgement. The burden of proof is "preponderance of the credible evidence". With no forced entry, is it more likely than not that the tenant took it or failed to secure the house when leaving?

If the tenant didn't lock the door or secure all windows when leaving, then  that's on them.

  Still need to be proved though that they didn't secure it.   All the tenants have to do is to show the judge/jury the google search of how thieves do the lock-picking.  Or for that matter, the tenant can say that the owner did it ! The owner had access to the property and time (two weeks) !

  By that logic, any tenant can claim all damages found were the result of the owner by leaving in the middle of the night or any other time owner is not immediately able to inspect the building.

And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

rated:
Maybe they did you a favor - they took the oil tank which would cost you later to remove and now you can put in an efficient baseboard system using PEX.

rated:
I'd check with your insurance and see what they cover.

My guess is that the tenants did it but it may be hard to prove. IF the tenants did do it then I don't know if it would be worth your time to pursue action against them. They sound like broke deadbeats and you're unlikely to get money from them even if you convince a court they did it.

However you might ask the neighbors what they saw. Removing an entire furnace and oil tank doesn't seem like something that thieves would do quickly in the dead of night.

rated:
jerosen said:   
However you might ask the neighbors what they saw. Removing an entire furnace and oil tank doesn't seem like something that thieves would do quickly in the dead of night.

  thus favoring owner in balance of probabilities

rated:
Copper theft is a lot less profitable than it once was.

Iron theft is worth $50-100 a ton these days, so nobody's stealing an old boiler or iron radiators for scrap. They might steal old radiators for vintage value, if any. More likely the tenants thought they would own the place and were starting to demolish before rehab.

rated:
sailorbob said:   Maybe they did you a favor - they took the oil tank which would cost you later to remove and now you can put in an efficient baseboard system using PEX.
  This is totally true.  If you can make an insurance claim, you can probably really upgrade the whole system.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

  
Why is it any more unlikely than the metal thief being a smoker or a frisbee player?  It's not hard to pick locks successfully and easily, it just takes some practice and a $15 (or more or less) set of picks.  It's even easier to get inside when the back window is unlocked. 

Of course it is very possible the tenants did it.  But it could also be someone the tenants knew, someone who really needed money AND knew the house was about to be vacant.  We're all guessing at this point.

rated:
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

  
Why is it any more unlikely than the metal thief being a smoker or a frisbee player?  It's not hard to pick locks successfully and easily, it just takes some practice and a $15 (or more or less) set of picks.  It's even easier to get inside when the back window is unlocked. 

 

  OP didn't mention the doors were unlocked. Why would a lock picker relock the door on the way out?

Of course it is very possible the tenants did it.  But it could also be someone the tenants knew, someone who really needed money AND knew the house was about to be vacant.  We're all guessing at this point.

you only need better than 50%

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

  
Why is it any more unlikely than the metal thief being a smoker or a frisbee player?  It's not hard to pick locks successfully and easily, it just takes some practice and a $15 (or more or less) set of picks.  It's even easier to get inside when the back window is unlocked. 

 

  OP didn't mention the doors were unlocked. Why would a lock picker relock the door on the way out?


 

Where did you read that all the doors were locked? How hard is it to turn the lock on the inside of a doorknob before closing a door? 


Of course it is very possible the tenants did it.  But it could also be someone the tenants knew, someone who really needed money AND knew the house was about to be vacant.  We're all guessing at this point.

you only need better than 50%


More than 50%...for what game?
  

rated:
I wouldn't expect a thief to be kind enough to install an alternate heat source so this would point to the former tenants.

rated:
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

  
Why is it any more unlikely than the metal thief being a smoker or a frisbee player?  It's not hard to pick locks successfully and easily, it just takes some practice and a $15 (or more or less) set of picks.  It's even easier to get inside when the back window is unlocked. 

 

  OP didn't mention the doors were unlocked. Why would a lock picker relock the door on the way out?


 

Where did you read that all the doors were locked? How hard is it to turn the lock on the inside of a doorknob before closing a door? 


Of course it is very possible the tenants did it.  But it could also be someone the tenants knew, someone who really needed money AND knew the house was about to be vacant.  We're all guessing at this point.

you only need better than 50%


More than 50%...for what game?
  

  I didn't say OP said they were locked, I said OP didn't say they were unlocked.

>50% ... for civil court. google "preponderance of evidence"

rated:
I'll point out that as soon as you tell the insurance company the house was vacant they will likely deny any claims. Most insurance policies require a home to be occupied for the claim to be valid.

rated:
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

  
Why is it any more unlikely than the metal thief being a smoker or a frisbee player?  It's not hard to pick locks successfully and easily, it just takes some practice and a $15 (or more or less) set of picks.  It's even easier to get inside when the back window is unlocked. 

 

  OP didn't mention the doors were unlocked. Why would a lock picker relock the door on the way out?


 

Where did you read that all the doors were locked? How hard is it to turn the lock on the inside of a doorknob before closing a door? 


Of course it is very possible the tenants did it.  But it could also be someone the tenants knew, someone who really needed money AND knew the house was about to be vacant.  We're all guessing at this point.

you only need better than 50%


More than 50%...for what game?
  

  I didn't say OP said they were locked, I said OP didn't say they were unlocked.

 

Yes, good thing you are not assuming things!


>50% ... for civil court. google "preponderance of evidence"

  
That's cute
 

rated:
IrishBrewer said:   I wouldn't expect a thief to be kind enough to install an alternate heat source so this would point to the former tenants.
  
It certainly would look like that way.  Was the kitchen heat permanently installed or just put in along the baseboard?  I once had a house with a chilly family room that I supplemented with electric heat.

I agree the radiator scrap value would be minimal. Strange that anyone would begin demo'ing a house before they even agree on a price to purchase.

rated:
NEDeals said:   


>50% ... for civil court. google "preponderance of evidence"

  
That's cute

  

Is he not correct?

 

rated:
NEDeals said:   rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
NEDeals said:   
rufflesinc said:   
And regarding lock picking, it's highly unlikely a metal thief will be a lock picker.

  
Why is it any more unlikely than the metal thief being a smoker or a frisbee player?  It's not hard to pick locks successfully and easily, it just takes some practice and a $15 (or more or less) set of picks.  It's even easier to get inside when the back window is unlocked. 

 

  OP didn't mention the doors were unlocked. Why would a lock picker relock the door on the way out?


 

Where did you read that all the doors were locked? How hard is it to turn the lock on the inside of a doorknob before closing a door? 


Of course it is very possible the tenants did it.  But it could also be someone the tenants knew, someone who really needed money AND knew the house was about to be vacant.  We're all guessing at this point.

you only need better than 50%


More than 50%...for what game?
  

  I didn't say OP said they were locked, I said OP didn't say they were unlocked.

 

Yes, good thing you are not assuming things!


>50% ... for civil court. google "preponderance of evidence"

  
That's cute
 

I assumed nothing. OP didn't say the door was unlocked. That is a fact. An unlocked door is. A red flag enough that OP would have mention.

You seriously don't know burden of proof in civil court? Good lord.

Skipping 53 Messages...
rated:
On the bright side, perhaps this is a good time to switch the house to gas heat? At least you don't need to pay to have the old oil tank removed. Lemonade from lemons.

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