Landlord: Furnished rental found empty

Posted at 2:10 PM, Feb 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-05 17:26:55-05

Imagine renting out a fully furnished apartment adorned with knick knacks.  Inside the cabinets are dishes.  In the bathroom, towels.

The $900 a month rental is also spotless.

Then, your renter abruptly breaks their lease without approval.   As the landlord, you go to the property and find the furniture and furnishings are missing, right down to decorative pillows on the bed.

That's what Dolly Smith says happened to the Cove Cay apartment she owns and rents out.

"Everything just gone," explained Smith.  "I said, 'what the?' and called my husband."

Smith provided before and after photos of the Clearwater apartment to ABC Action News.  She also took us on a tour Friday morning.

"It has to be completely remodeled," Smith explained.

Inside the home where framed paintings once hung are nothing more than hooks. 

Smith filed a report with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.  Detectives say they are still investigating the case but have classified this as a civil matter because it involves a tenant/landlord dispute.

ABC Action News went looking for Kelly M. Taylor.  She moved two an apartment two floors above.

When we knocked for answers, no one came to the door.

Taylor did return a phone call for comment.

She told ABC Action News she donated the furniture to charity and had receipts.  She also claims Smith gave her permission.  An allegation Smith denies.

Taylor said she feels she is being "retaliated against by vengeful landlords" but could not explain what they would be retaliating over.

She declined to comment on camera.

Smith now plans to sue Taylor is small claims court.

"It is a theft.  I don't care how you sugar coat it, it's a theft.  Someone takes things that are yours, they steal it.  I don't care if she donated, if she gave it to her neighbor, she threw it out the window, she stole it from me," Smith said.