Landlords beware: your tenants are stealing your stuff

Oh, beehive: one of the zanier items an ex-tenant admitted to having taken...

Oh, beehive: one of the zanier items an ex-tenant admitted to having taken... - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pocketing handfuls of shampoo and sewing kits before checking out of your hotel room is one thing – you’ve paid for them, after all – but what about lifting a load of white goods when exiting a rental?

Seems a bit excessive to me – but apparently it’s not at all unusual.

According to a new study, 30 per cent of tenants think it’s fine to take things from a rental property when they move out.

We’re not talking token bits and bobs, either – popular items tenants admit to having taken include fridges, beds, cupboards, televisions, sofas and, amazingly, sinks.

Asked why they took the goods, excuses included “I thought the landlord wouldn’t notice it was missing”, “it was an accident” and “I’d forgotten it wasn’t mine”.

Because you really did think you brought that actual kitchen sink with you when you moved in, didn’t you?

At least some of the light-fingered tenants have a degree of honestly, with more than a fifth admitting they’d stolen things simply because they wanted to.

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Some of the zanier items ex-tenants admit to having taken include coconuts, a rolling pin and – most bizarre of all – a beehive. While this is sort of funny for those of us who aren’t landlords who used to have beehives in the gardens of our rental properties, it’s clearly no laughing matter for those that did. It’s costly, too.

The tenants quizzed by landlord insurer Direct Line for Business estimate that the overall value of items they had taken from a property stands at £509. Beehives don’t come cheap.

Having an inventory doesn’t make a massive amount of difference either: 21 per cent of those who’ve taken things said they didn’t complete one when they moved in… but 23 per cent admitted that they’d taken things despite them being listed on the inventory.

Nick Breton, Head of Direct Line for Business, advises landlords of furnished properties to “make sure you have the right insurance in place so you’re covered should things go missing – like the kitchen sink!” Wise words indeed.

While I’ve certainly snaffled all the hotel biscuits, dental kits and pointless shower caps I can squeeze into my suitcase, it’s never occurred to me to steal from any of the many rental properties I’ve lived in. A bed that’s been slept in by who knows how many other sweaty bodies just hasn’t held much appeal, and as far comedy coconut crime… tempting, but no.

My money’s on that beehive burglary being a souvenir from a student let, stuffed in with a stash of shopping trolleys and traffic cones. Because any seasoned mover would know how unfunny that joke would become when it came to lugging it to the new place…