Boiler Theft – Copper and Carpets Too!

Boiler Theft – Copper and Carpets Too!

16:21 PM, 23rd October 2013, About 10 years ago 13

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I had a call about one of my properties in the Middlesbrough area that has gone downhill quite a way since I bought it 10 years ago.

It was one of John Paul’s merry crew at Castledene who told me that the place has had its back door kicked in, all copper piping, cable, boiler and even the almost new carpets pinched. It has been void for 2 months despite the offer to the local Homeless Unit and other caring organisations.

Evidently there are no homeless people in Middlesbrough who would like what is effectively a free (LHA rate only) 3 bed house, newly decorated and carpeted, with a modern gas central heating system and UPVC windows and doors. I am even throwing in cable TV and broadband free for 6 months and £100 to help with removal expenses!

So the loss adjuster has been in and sucked air through his teeth and we are in the process of getting estimates to make good. It hits the 90 day vacant limit of my insurers next week (The NLA members scheme at Alan Boswell) and I am told that none of the insurers they use for vacant property will accept it while a claim is in progress, so I am not going to have theft, accidental or malicious damage cover as of then.

Crime Prevention officers helpfully suggest that we don’t reinstate pipes, cables or boiler until, immediately before occupation. Not realistic as it’s hard enough to let as it is!

I have bleated to the council asking what is being done about this result of their selective licensing elsewhere in Middlesbrough driving the less desirable to my area. No useful reply as yet despite the mayor being Ray “Robocop” Mallon the former controversially tough “Zero Tolerance” copper.


1. How to get insurance worthy of the name until I have a tenant
2. How to get the place (and one in the next street) tenanted
3. (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition) Best security measures to prevent a repeat. There is an alarm system there, which I am looking into having reinstated, assuming it isn’t working, and I plan to arrange curtains, blinds and lights on timers.

Many thanks


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Yvette Newbury

16:42 PM, 23rd October 2013, About 10 years ago

Oh dear, we had a property in Bristol that was broken into whilst empty and the NEW boiler stolen. They wore gloves so there was no evidence of who had taken it and nothing else was taken. We therefore waited until we had secured a new tenant before installing the boiler, had it all set to go apart from putting it on the wall but I can see how difficult that will be in your situation due to pipes etc missing too. Perhaps with your improved security features you would be OK to reinstall pipes, but just leave the actual boiler until you have secured a tenant? A new tenant would then know for sure they were getting a brand new boiler.

Sorry this isn't ever so helpful, but I wanted to post so that you know it happened to someone else too.

Sue P

16:46 PM, 23rd October 2013, About 10 years ago

I guess you could move in yourself for a couple of weeks with minimum furniture. You would be the security guard yourself and be on hand for viewings.
Also you would be able to get insurance - and assuming you make a capital gain when you sell up (in the future of course) as it was your principal home for a while there are tax advantages too.

Neil Patterson

16:52 PM, 23rd October 2013, About 10 years ago

Hi Jerry,

From experience I would persevere with the existing insurers as any new insurance providers will not normally take a risk on while there is an ongoing claim so could be very difficult.

You obviously can't move someone in while the property needs repairing so the vacancy rule should be ignored by your existing insurers.

If they are not helpful please do instigate their complaints procedure as I am sure there are regulatory rules about treating customers fairly and your right to adequate insurance cover.

I hope that helps.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

17:05 PM, 23rd October 2013, About 10 years ago

Is the property advertised on Rightmove, Zoopla and DSSmove?

Does the advert say "DSS welcome" and "no deposit no fees subject to guarantor"

Do the adverts mention the £100 moving incentive?

Has your agent run a Rightmove Plus report to show you comparable properties which have recently been advertised and let in the area?

Have you listed it with more than one agent?


17:30 PM, 23rd October 2013, About 10 years ago

Jerry - I've had a similar problem with a house in Lancashire that I had bought at auction. I replaced with plastic pipes under the floors. Only the short pieces of pipe from the radiators dropping down through the floor and immediately connecting into the plastic, are copper. Also copper pipes only extend for about 1 metre from the boiler then it converts to plastic. Works fine, and so far no floors ripped up! Plastic is also cheaper than copper! Hope this helps.


11:03 AM, 24th October 2013, About 10 years ago

I use Alan Boswell too and they refer me to Ocaso for property insurance when the property has been unoccupied (for more than 60 days with my arrangements). I'm surprised they didn't advise you.

They allow you to set up a direct debit and then cancel as soon as the property is tenanted in order that you can then put the property back on your usual Alan Boswell arranged policy.

Good luck

14:15 PM, 25th October 2013, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "23/10/2013 - 17:05":

It's fully managed by reputable managing agents, who assure me that it's advertised in all kinds of places - I have checked and the incentives are there on Rightmove. Can you imagine JP letting them do less? 😉

14:28 PM, 25th October 2013, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "DC " at "24/10/2013 - 11:03":

Yes, they have referred me to Ocaso in the past too, but advise that in this case they would not be prepared to offer cover while a claim is in progress.

The latest joy is that, with no boiler being installed until a tenant is found and thus no requirement for electricity to be left on to operate that, so far they are unprepared to allow me to leave circuits turned on to operate lights on timers and the alarm system without invalidating the fire cover (that being a condition of my mortgage lender, of course).

Rock, meet hard place.

14:46 PM, 25th October 2013, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Graeme " at "23/10/2013 - 17:30":

Plastic pipes seem like a good idea. I'll ask the plumbers.

Robert M

12:31 PM, 26th October 2013, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jerry Jones" at "25/10/2013 - 14:46":

Definitely use plastic piping instead of copper where possible.
Apply Smartwater to copper piping and boiler (and anything else of value).
If you choose not to use Smartwater, then you could perhaps apply anti-climb paint to copper piping as a deterrent, (the mess it makes of the thief's clothes will make it not worthwhile stealing the copper).
Put up CCTV (or good quality dummy CCTV), and the warning signs.

In terms of letting the property, don't just rely on agents, do your own advertising on Gumtree website, any local online forums, and in the local press. Ask a friend to be a mystery shopper (potential tenant looking for a property like yours) and see what service they get from the agent (and what barriers the agent puts in the way, e.g. "we don't take DSS", "you need to pay £150 application fee", "you need to provide a month's deposit and a month's rent in advance", etc, etc), you may find that the agent, while assuring you that they are doing everything possible to let your property, may in fact be your worst enemy by putting off potential tenants. I had this problem when I used an agent for a property 100 miles from my home, the agent had it for 3 months and only had one potential tenant, they said there was no demand and I should reduce the rent. I took it off them, advertised it myself in the local press at £100 pcm MORE than the agent advertised it at, and I had 14 enquiries, 9 turned up to view, 8 of the 9 wanted it, and it was let within 2 weeks of me taking it off the agent. By all means use agents if you wish, but don't rely on them!!!!! (I don't use agents for any of my properties now).

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