Tenant Scams Landlord Out of $500

Do you have a relationship with a local plumber?

A landlord in Milford, Connecticut probably wishes he did before he gave his tenant permission to hire someone to work on the pipes in his rental property.

According to a news report, after a tenant complained about the plumbing,  the landlord told the man to hire a plumber to fix the problem, and the landlord would reimburse the tenant for the bill.

Everything seemed normal when the tenant produced a receipt for a hefty bill, which the landlord reluctantly paid to the tenant.   But, to his dismay, the landlord later received a notice from the plumber complaining about the unpaid bill.

The landlord was alarmed not only by the plumber’s notice, but by the amount. It was $500 less than what he had paid to his tenant.

So the landlord did a little sleuth work, comparing the invoice given to him by the plumber with the copy from the tenant, and found that the tenant had, in fact, changed the document to give himself a pay-off.

The landlord contacted the police and the tenant was arrested for 5th degree larceny and 2nd degree forgery, according to the report.

This case serves to remind landlords that it’s a bad idea to give tenants the power to hire contractors, and to choose who performs maintenance. It would be better for a landlord to designate a particular contractor who is pre-approved to work on the property.  This way, a landlord knows they are getting a fair deal, and there is no communication lost between the landlord and the maintenance worker.

Otherwise, there is no way to know if the contractors are insured and bonded. What if you’re struck by Murphy’s law and a window is broken by a worker?

Also, it’s important to find out if and for how long the repair is warrantied.

Worse yet, a worker who doesn’t get paid is legally allowed to place a mechanic’s lien on the rental property, and that’s going to eat up even more profits.

Don’t allow tenants the power over performing repairs, whether it’s doing their own repairs or overseeing a contractor.  Take back the reins when it comes to performing maintenance to your rentals.

 With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

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