Supplying Appliances for Rentals: Tips to Make Your Life Easier

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Let’s just be honest: appliances are a pain in the butt.  They are one of the costliest parts of my business.  I am constantly buying new ones, getting them repaired, moving them in and moving them out.  It does not seem like there is a week that goes by that some appliance doesn’t require my attention.

If I could get out of the appliance business, I would.  But for the most part, my rental market will not let me.  In my part of the world, almost all of my competitors supply appliances.  Meaning at least a stove and refrigerator along with a dishwasher and a washer and dryer, if the connections exist, are a part of the rental package.  If I did not supply appliances, I would lose most of the good tenants to my competitors or my rents would have to be significantly lower.

The Reality of Supplying Appliances

It isn’t always standard to supply appliances. It is extremely localized and dependent on your specific market.  For example, here within the City of Memphis the provision of appliances differs depending on the area of town you are in.  In some of the lower-end parts of town, appliances are never supplied due to issues with theft. Sometimes, only a stove may be supplied and the unit is advertised as having hookups for other appliances.

The provision of appliances may also depend on the type of unit you are renting.  Apartment units usually provide appliances as opposed to single family home rentals.  It often seems to be the case with single family home rentals that the tenants are moving from another single family home and tend to have their own appliances.  So, even if you did supply them, you like would need to move them out and store them.

Related: Appliances – To Repair or Replace: That is the Question

What are the Typical Appliance Provisions for Your Market?

Check out the classified ads both in your local paper and on websites such as backpage and Craigslist.  What are other landlords doing?  Find out and follow their leads.

If you do find that appliances are generally provided in your market, here are some tips to help you out:

  • Find a good used appliance shop.  Prices will be significantly less and most items will work just as well.
  • However, always buy refrigerators and dishwashers new.  I have tried used refrigerators and dishwashers and find that they just do not last.  For a few dollars more, it is worth it to buy these items new.  Just look through the sales at your local big box stores for the best price.
  • Make sure the used appliance store thoroughly cleans their inventory.  The last thing you need is bugs brought to your property by dirty appliances.
  • Find a used appliance store that delivers.  Not all of them do.  Believe me, you do not want to waste your time moving appliances around.  You have better and more important things to do.  You may have to pay a little more but it is so worth it.
  • Find a used appliance store that will also make repairs.  Many do not and you may have to search for a while but that repair person will be worth their weight in gold.
  • Finally, wheel and deal.  Everything is negotiable in the used appliance business.  Haggle a bit on the price.  Ask for discounts.  Trade in your broken appliances for “new” ones (they want them for the parts).

I hope you can avoid getting into the appliance business all together.  But if you are like me and cannot really avoid it, use these tips help you out.

Do you have to supply appliances?  What creative ways have you come up with to do it?  Let me know with your comments.

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About Author

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in and manages rental properties in Memphis, TN and is a past president and vice-president of the local REIA group, the Memphis Investors Group.

56 Comments

  1. We started putting appliances (dishwasher, fridge, and stove) in all of our properties that rent for over $1,000 a month. I felt with the increased rental supply on the market, it was necessary. But I did find out by doing this, we were able to achieve the highest end of the rent range. Even on the rents of $850 to $995, we are putting in dishwasher and stove. For the low end properties we manage, a good friend once told me “tenant don’t need a dishwasher to clean paper plates.”

    I have found Home Depot to have the best prices and they deliver, I want to say install too, but I am not 100% sure on that off the top of my head. These prices are the ones we negotiated through our contractor program.

    $220 Dishwasher
    $348 Gas Stove
    $305 Electric Stove
    $398 Refrigerator (no ice maker)

    • Kevin Perk

      Alex,

      The good thing about Home Depot and Lowes is that you can negotiate if you can do a little volume. I have found Lowes gave me the better deal but that may have been that particular time and person. Either way prices are pretty close.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

    • Jason Shotwell on

      Hey Alex,

      I’m a new investor in Memphis. I’m currently remodeling my first investment property. Could you explain the contractor program and if it is something available to a new investor like myself?

      Thanks!

      • Kevin Perk

        Jason,

        It is. Go to the contractor desk at your local home depot, ask to speak to a sales rep and tell them what you do. The more you buy, the bigger the discount.

        Kevin

  2. I usually buy only new appliances. Around here, the used ones have pretty high prices, so for a little more, I get new, with warranty and delivery. As you stated, I don’t want to spend my time hauling appliances around town and up and down stairs. The extra cost of new is worth it!

    • Kevin Perk

      Dan,

      Around here used can be half price or less. I am really happy with my used appliance dealer.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experience. It really is all about your particular market.

      Kevin

  3. Installing a stove is standard for me, though I see many landlords making the tenant provide one. I never include a fridge any more…

    Washer and dryers are sometimes included depending on the unit. For example, I have a small house with the hookups in the kitchen and the area only fits a stacked unit. I went out and bought one to provide an attractive property for rent… long story short I bought a new stacked washer and dryer, placed tenant and 4 months later the dryer still doesn’t work. It has been a nightmare servicing a brand new unit and dealing with unhappy tenants.

    Moral to the story do not provide appliances if neceassry and if you do be prepared to deal with the problems.

    • Kevin Perk

      Frank,

      I agree, appliances can be a problem. Especially if the tenant does not take care of them. Sometimes it can be just plain ignorance however. I once had a young tenant wash all of their bath mats at once. The weight of the mats when wet broke the washer. She simply had no idea you could not put all that weight in a washer. She was young and inexperienced. The repair bill taught her the lesson.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  4. In my market and demographic, I have to supply all appliances including microwaves. I never buy used. I always get an extended warranty on refrigerators and washers. Tenants break the washing machines and the refrigerators are built to fail or break within 5 yrs these days. I haven’t had problems with dishwashers or stoves. Almost all my calls on dryers are the same: the dryer is not drying – ok, I send the vent cleaner over.

    • Kevin Perk

      Cheryl,

      Wow microwaves too? That is a new one. Are you in a higher end market?

      I agree about the damn refrigerators! They just do not make them very well anymore.

      I LOL’d at your dryer example. I have been there too. You have to CLEAN THE LINT TRAP!

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  5. Kevin,

    When we acquire a property we go through and record the make/model/age of all the appliances. We then wait for HomeDepot, Sears or {our favourite online retailer} to have their {semi}-annual truckload/clearance/whatever sale and we go shopping.

    When it comes to refrigerators, and to a slightly lesser degree, dishwashers and washing machines, a new appliance will cost significantly less to operate – saving your tenant, or you, electricity costs.

    Two years ago we went through an exercise where we placed all refrigerators older than 12-years with a new EnergyStar tier III rated refrigerator. The new fridge consumes the same amount of electricity in a year as the average of the replaced fridges consumed in two months. Furthermore, because we were replacing a significant number of refrigerators at once, we were able to do better than the sale price and ended up paying $475/fridge ($536 after taxes) and was given the option of 30 months of interest free payments.

    Not only do we get to pay for each fridge at the rate of $18/month from cash flow (using tomorrows discounted dollars to pay today’s discounted price), {in Canada} appliances are depreciated at the rate of 20%/year … so we only “expect” them to last 5-8 years anyway {in reality, the vast majority will last a decade or more}.

    We are now in the process of a similar replacement of en-suite laundry units.

      • Kevin,

        With the exception of a student rooming house, we do not pay the utilities at our properties. That does not mean our tenants do not want or appreciate energy efficient homes.

        One thing we do as a service to our {mostly student} tenants; is provide the option of a “utilities budget”. This is a separate agreement (attached as an Schedule to the lease) under which the tenant pays a certain amount towards utilities each month. We keep the utilities in our name and pay the providers. We also provide the tenant with a copy of the utilities bill so they have direct visibility to their consumption. Every three months we reconcile the amount they have paid in versus the amount of the bills. If there is a surplus we give them the choice of applying it to the next months rent or leaving it in the fund. If there is a deficit, we invoice them.

        One of the advantages of the Utilities Budget is it has allowed us to put the cost of water & sewer in our SFHs into the hands of our tenants.

        • That’s a brilliant idea, Roy! I just saw a 12-unit apartment in Houston offering that option, and now I know why. Thanks!

        • Kevin Perk

          Roy,

          Interesting. I can see how that might be good for students.

          On the flip side, I have found that folks who want “utilities included” usually have some type of problem preventing them from getting utilities in their name. Could just be our local market however as everything in real estate is local.

          Thanks for sharing your info and how you do things,

          Kevin

  6. Buying new appliances at Home Depot, they not only deliver and set them up but, also take the old ones away. Since new dishwashers cost the same as repairing one, we go that way. Also found out that the Weatherization program will replace old refrigerators with new at very little cost. Stoves are the worst, renters do not take care of them even when bran new.
    Buying new for me is more cost effective because there is less maintenance.

    • I totally agree with you Jim. You can charge it against the tenant if it breaks too from their security deposit since it is brand new. We would keep buying new so there’s no excuse that it’s old and doesn’t work.

    • Kevin Perk

      Jim,

      I agree with your dishwasher statement. But I have had much success with used stoves and used washers and dryers. It is pretty hard to destroy a stove (but they do try).

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

    • One thing to look into is that some local utilities will pay you to haul away old refrigerators. I had an old one in my most recent acquisition that wasn’t worth putting on craigslist – but the power company paid me $30 to come and take it off my hands.

  7. Thanks Kevin for the post. We usually buy brand new basic electric range with hooded vent and dishwasher all for about $700 including delivery and removal of old appliances. We have the contractor install them all while he’s there. That way, we don’t have to worry about appliances for the first year (keeping fingers crossed) or so.

    We normally don’t provide fridge/washer/dryer to minimize our chances of claims that our appliance ruined their expensive food or clothes. If possible, you can cheaply sell the fridge and washer/dryer with a bill of receipt so the tenant owns them. When issues arise, they are responsible for them not you.

    • Kevin Perk

      Cuong,

      Thanks for taking the time to write and adding to the discussion. We have a clause in our lease that says we are not responsible for such things. Seem to work.

      Kevin

  8. My area usually include stove, fridge, dishwasher and microwave. I’ve been lucky so far. I know a good used washer and dyer guy. He repairs too. We just had a washer(Kenmore) just give out after 30 years. Like Kevin say it all depends on the market.

  9. The refrigerator is one the tenant, it is the one appliance that is abused the most. If one exists when you move in, it’s yours to use or replace.

    • Kevin Perk

      Dennis,

      Yes, I know some landlords who have the exact same policy. They say that there is a fridge there now, but I will not replace it if it breaks.

      I can’t quite do that in my market.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,

      Kevin

  10. I don’t supply any appliances beside built in dish washers. They will trash em and call you at 10pm to come fix it. Save yourself the trouble and expense and go ALL tenant supplied appliances

  11. Kevin,

    We never buy new. We have a few great used appliance shops. Many of the “used” appliances are really just scratch and dent. They all look great. We get much nicer appliances for our dollar. They are so nice that we stocked our own home with them and my wife is very picky. All GE elite, washer and dryer, fridge with the lower freezer, 8 zone stove and oven, and dishwasher. Cost $2000. Not one appliance was over 3 months old.

    The other thing we did is talk to the owners and find out which appliances have the most repairs and are brought in the most. It helped us stay away from problem machines.

    Jason

    • Kevin Perk

      Jason,

      I am with you.

      You can find some great deals on used and scratch and dents. I know I have.

      Good point about which brands break the most. I will have to remember that.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment,

      Kevin

  12. Al Williamson on

    Kevin,
    I agree with you on used appliances. Once you find a store that does solid work – you’re nearly home free. I get everything used – even refrigerators. If I every get a complaint, I just call my peeps and swap out the appliance or have them fix it. (I know they can repair it because they rebuilt it before I bought it).

    Buying used makes my life simple.

    • Kevin Perk

      Al,

      I agree with everything except the refrigerators. I have just had bad luck with them, but I am glad it is working out for you.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment,

      Kevin

  13. I recommend that everyone look into joining Consumer Reports. They are an independent company that tests and rates almost everything you spend more than $50 on. It costs $20 a year to join and if it saves you from buying one lemon a year it is more than worth it. You would be surprised how little price and reliability correlate on most goods. I have always followed their recommendations, looking for the best value buys, and they haven’t steered me wrong yet.

    I always enjoy your articles, Kevin!

  14. Joe Christopher on

    In Pennsylvania, Penelec, West Penn Power, or PennPower, or Met-Ed will pick up and pay $50 for used refrigerators or freezers and $25 for air conditioners.

  15. We have modified/changed our policy in regard to appliances due to endless replacement of almost new appli ances due to tenant abuse – they were overloading dryers, overloading washers, so they burned out motors, they were snapping off self clean latches (costs as much to repair as to replace the stove) etc. Now we have an addendum to every lease and it states: “when washer or dryer fail to work, and repair cost exceeds $100.00 , management will NOT replace–tenant must provide their own washer or dryer or both. This stopped any replacement of washers and dryers (which seemed to be our biggest problem), and, ironically lmany tenants when they vacated left us ltheir washers or dryers or both. usually because it was more expensive for lthem to move them than to leave them. We used to offer to buy appliances from the tenants when they were moving, but what looks like a good lappliance ends up not being one–we got a frig with burned out motor, stove with lburned out element, dryer with burned out drum–our appliance man said”, thats the problem with appliances, unless you use them for awhile you wont know they dont work.” One year we had TEN APPLIANCES go out that all were less than 3 years old, due to tenants negligence & and THAT WAS IT! We implemented our new policy of you break it you buy your own. AND IT WORKED. Also–we address the water ice dispensers in refrigerators and say if it breaks or does not work, tenant can repair, we will not., broken refrigerator handles and bins, we have a clause of $150 per item (they cost more with install-outrageous cost!) but that stopped refrigerator abuse. This is all lpart of our lease prior to them moving in and they sign off and agree to it–we have another clause about breaking the self clean latches on stoves, which happened too often, and now it states, break it off & you lose $200.00 of your deposit –guess what? no problems with broken off latches anymore. I am not saying we do not repair legitimate issues–we absolutely do and have for forty years of having rentals, but you can lose months of rental income because a tenant overloads your washer and dryer or snaps off frig handles or stove latches.

    • I really like this approach. Thank you. I have heard about landlords not charging a security deposit and stating the same thing. You break x and it will cost you this much.

      Jason

    • Joann,

      If a tenant leaves a dead appliance behind, they brought into the property I charge the removal from their security deposit.

      I think I might call PECO to get paid for the removal, and charge the tenant, win, win, I’ll call it a facilitation fee.

    • Kevin Perk

      Joann,

      I feel your pain. Some of our appliances have taken some tenant abuse as well. But it seems like you have experienced a bit more than I have. I like your ideas though, I wonder if they can be implemented in all markets or will there be some pushback?

      Either way thanks for reading and for sharing your tips and ideas,

      Kevin

      • Joann miller on

        I find that as long as it is addressed in writing with their signature confirming agreement and it doesn’t violate Washington state landlord tenant law we have had no pushback– ironically we just had a refrigerator go out after tenant had been in the home for seven years and they just went out and bought a new one and called us to find out if we knew a hauler who could take the old one to the dump and they would pay the hauling fee– simply because our lease said when it goes out, buy your own– tenants can’t have it both ways– good rent, attentive landlord, and then endless supply of new appliances delivered to their door because they abused them

  16. I generally buy new appliances from Lowes. Free delivery and haul away. Find appliances on their website that are on sale. Then, use a 10% discount coupon, or ask for a one-time 10% discount. If you are a disabled vet, and have a VIC card, they give you 10% off too.

    You can buy 10% discount coupons on eBay for ~$2, buy than 5 or 10 at a time, and use them at Menards too.

    Refrigerators and Dishwashers that do not work generally get replaced. Stoves are a depends item. Some are too dirty to salvage. I just replaced a heating element in a dryer for ~$60, well worth the repair.

    • Kevin Perk

      Eric,

      Good advice. I have also bout coupons for these large purchases. It all adds up. I am not sure if you still can but you used to be able to get a 10% off coupon with the change of address form at the post office. It was free for the asking.

      Thanks for reading and for the tips!

      Kevin

  17. Joann miller on

    I agree- we also have a clause that states dead appliances left behind – tenant pays hauling fee of minimum$150 plus fuel plus the fee the dump charges for appliance dumping which is $50-100 per appliance– this is also done in writing at initial check in– we do all move out agreements and refund issues in writing as part of and attached to our leasing documents–everything is explained to tenants with line by line reading and signature on every page– so when they move out there are no surprises– we also reinforce this with our check out requirements for vacating the rental with their confirmation of notice to vacate form– another thing we have done the last 20 years– time dated video check in with tenants on video in every room, garage and exterior– showing in no uncertain terms the condition of everything– down to the door stops– it eliminates all disagreements as to condition.

    • We have roving bands of scrap termites who will make anything with the slightest glimmer of metal vanish in seconds. Some of these termites break into vacant rentals quickly consuming all copper and return to pull the nails out of the walls, if you don’t board up.

      • Kevin Perk

        Dennis,

        Same here in Memphis. No appliance lasts more than 10 minutes once dropped on the curb. It is actually pretty handy, and free.

        Thanks for reading and commenting,

        Kevin

      • Joann miller on

        Thank you– appreciate your column– actually we have learned a lot simply by having something bad or expensive happen and then we re-write our leasing documents to address it so it won’t happen a second time– as I’m sure you have found, renters do things that you cannot even imagine they would do — we had a guy seal off a fireplace– what landlord would ever think about someone doing that??

        • How about a tenant who unsealed a fake fire place (no chimney), and fired up one of those match light logs! I should have removed the mantle, but I though it looked kind of nice as an older architectural element.

          Everybody is on drugs, the ones that are not need to be.

        • Kevin Perk

          Joann,

          You wrote the understatement of the comments section, “…as I’m sure you have found, renters do things that you cannot even imagine they would do.” :)

          We have to add to our house rules every year. It is amazing what you learn about people in this business.

          Thanks again,

          Kevin

  18. Kevin Perk

    Great discussion here! I appreciate everyone taking the time to read my article and share their tips with the rest of us. Hopefully we will hear from some other landlords, let’s keep it going!

    Thanks again,

    Kevin

  19. After reading all of the comments, I have decided to prepare a simple “operating instructions document” to supply to all my tenants – laminated and to remain in the property. It will not only address appliances, but also hvac filters, drains, blinds and anything else that I have had problems with (like what can and cannot go down the garbage disposal, toilet,etc.). The lease will state that they have received it and are responsible for repair costs due to tenant negligence or misuse. But this area can be very grey and I will still go with extended warranties on certain appliances.

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