Theft of tenant’s money ?

by Readers Question

7:20 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Theft of tenant’s money ?

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Theft of tenant’s money ?

I just had an angry tenant phone to say that £40 hidden in her bedroom has been stolen today (Tuesday). I was in her flat today by agreement, as was our cleaner and our valuer. I was not with the cleaner and the valuer all the time.

I had told the tenant not to leave cash about (which she acknowledges) although that was just precautionary advice from me. she says it was hidden.

The reason for our cleaner attending is that the other joint tenant moved out and the replacement is moving in tomorrow.

The finger of the tenants suspicion falls on the cleaner, who has done a lot of work for us over the last 3 years or so and there has never been a problem before.

I have told the tenant to report the matter to the police and confirm the details to me by e-mail as she wants me to ‘investigate’. I have no reason to think that the tenant is making this up, although she could be mistaken.

Am I legally responsible for reimbursing the money, even though there is no hard evidence of the amount or the theft? I realise for good relations that may be a good idea, but that is not my question. I feel she is at least partly to blame.

Thanks

Joetheft



Comments

Neil Patterson

7:35 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

What a tricky situation over just £40.

The safest thing to do is call the police if someone is claiming a crime.

But what if the tenant is mistaken as things often are in these circumstances? Did you accidentally NLP the tenant by putting it in their mind before hand mentioning keeping money away?

I do not see how you are responsible for a crime or a mistake, but I can see why you would want to keep good relations with people. Or are they taking advantage of you?

Percy Vere

7:53 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Your tenant needs to report it to the police to obtain a crime number. This will enable your tenant to claim on their contents insurance
If it wasn't you and it wasn't the valuer, who would not have seen "hidden" money then you don't have to be Inspector Clueso as to who is the prime suspect here do you, if indeed the theft actually took place.
In any event you have no liabilty and any course of compensation action you may want to make to refund will be signed as a goodwill payment without implication to yourself.

Paul Goulder

8:00 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Iv had this happen to me .it was a try on .the cleaner is not to blame without evidence.
Why hide £40 it's such a small amount they could carry it in their pocket
Get her to tell the police ,who will nothing about it
It's a try on to get you to pay . Dont

Irene Wong

8:24 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

I totally agree with Paul in the last comment. Why on earth would you hide £40 and not pop it into your purse when you know people are coming around. It's a very nasty try-on and just look what bad feeling it may cause! Tell them to contact the police and offer the contact details of all 3 visitors and let them chase it up themselves. I suspect nothing more will come of it.

DC

8:25 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Definitely get the tenant to report it to the police because if this is a genuine case of theft and the police have already got suspicions (or evidence) relating to any of the possible suspects this matter may be the last piece of evidence they need to clear up a catalogue of similar crimes by the offender.

Robert Mellors

9:02 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Sounds unlikely to be real, and much more likely that the tenant is trying to take advantage of you, but if it is real then she needs to report it to the police and obtain a crime reference number. As already stated, the police are unlikely to do much, if anything, but may wish to get a statement from you, the valuer, and the cleaner. As your fingerprints will be all over the room anyway then it will be impossible for the police to gather any evidence to either use against any of you or to clear your names, so fingerprinting would be a pointless exercise.

Be very careful about giving the tenant any money whatsoever, as they could try to use this against you (by insinuating that perhaps you paid because you had a guilty conscience, even though you did it as a "goodwill gesture").

This is a situation with no winners, if it really happened then the tenant will blame you (even if the cleaner or valuer did it), it undermines your trust of the cleaner (who may be completely innocent), and it may spoil/sour the business relationship with the valuer, plus waste an awful lot of everyone's time. Even if it didn't happen, the tenant now has to maintain the story (and thus the blame on you) so as not to "admit" to falsifying the accusation.

Steve From Leicester

9:21 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

As an agent managing many hundreds of properties we get this sort of allegation once in a blue moon.

If they're alleging theft - however petty - then they're alleging that we or our contractors have committed a criminal offence. That's a matter for the police and that's what we tell them. We don't engage further.

Making good the losses as a gesture of goodwill may seem tempting but you've tacitly accepted that your contractor just might be a thief if you do so.

Dr Rosalind Beck

9:22 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

For such a small amount I would definitely just pay it - get her to sign a receipt that states it is a goodwill gesture and admits no liability - and I would think you could put it in the tax return as well, so that it costs you a bit less?
And unfortunately I would keep an eye on the cleaner in the future...
It will cost you a lot more if you damage relations with the tenant and she leaves and you have to fill a vacancy.
We write off much larger amounts all the time when we're not to blame - ruined carpets etc., when you'd have to make small claim. It's just not worth all that legal bother unless you're talking about large amounts.
NB. This is just my opinion as a landlord - I'm no legal expert.

Steve From Leicester

10:14 AM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Have to disagree with Rosalind.

I'm fiercely loyal to the people who work for me (either directly or indirectly) unless / until they prove that they're not worthy of such loyalty.

If I had a cleaner who'd worked for me for three years without problem then I'd say they deserve better than Rosalind's presumption that they were probably guilty. Rosalind may well argue that she's not presuming guilt, she's just being pragmatic, but that's not the message sent out by either giving the tenant money or "keeping a closer eye on the cleaner".

And pragmatically waiving the cost of a damaged carpet is very different to bunging the tenant forty quid because they claim one of your long-standing contractors stole from them.

Simon Topple

12:24 PM, 30th July 2014
About 4 years ago

Have to say I agree with Steve from Leicester.

They need to report it to the police, who may or may not investigate. It's not your job to investigate it.

Certainly I would not expect a valuer to be one of the suspects - for one, they'd have to go rooting round the tenants belongings, and two, they are well paid, part of a professional organisation and a huge amount to lose if they are caught stealing.

I've also had accusations from a tenant - over the theft of a memory stick allegedly by a builder. The builder didn't even know what a memory stick was.

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