Dryer Breaks Due to Tenant Misuse -- How to Handle?

8 Replies

Last night my tenant reported that both the washer and dryer stopped working properly. I suspect the dryer stopped working because she overloaded it with soaking wet clothes that had not been through the spin cycle. As the landlord, I am responsible for the repair/replacement of the washer and dryer due to normal wear and tear. However, if the tenant used the appliances improperly that could shift responsibility.

I called the tenant and she agreed that the clothes were soaking wet when she loaded them in the dryer. She apparently did not realize that too much weight could harm the machine.

The washer and dryer are both 15-20 years old. So even if the tenant is responsible, it would probably not be fair to charge her for the entire cost of a new dryer.

The tenant is good and I’ve not yet had any problems with her. She is 6 months into an 18 month lease.

How should I proceed with this one?

Repair the washer/dryer (or replace them) and then refer her to the maintenance addendum (if you have one) in the lease. It would be a tough sell to convince someone, anyone that they owed you for replacement costs on appliances that were due to fall apart in the near-term anyway. Then, tell her to use her noggin when doing laundry :)

If they are both broke here is my guess on what happened. The spin cycle on the washer breaks and she tries to put the clothes in the dryer even though they don't spin out and consequently the belt on the dryer broke. I would get a new washer/ dryer (or new washer and replace the belt on the dryer if you can do that yourself. You could charge her for the belt but in this situation I probably wouldn't. The broken washer contributed to the dryer issue. Just let her know if you let the cost go that it is because the washer contributed.

Matt Schelberg you shouldn't be supplying washer and dryer in first place. I supply oven/stove and refrigerator. I know a landlord who doesn't even supply that!

@Matthew Graham

This made me chuckle as I went through a similar situation almost two years ago.

In our instance we approached the tenant and basically acknowledged the set was old (but that their actions would have broken a new set as well) and arrived at an arrangement whereby they tenant covered a small portion (tax, delivery, time for our handyman to modify the space and install the new units) and we bought the laundry set.

Given the age of the machine, it's reached the end of it's useful life and probably would have had problems within the term of her tenancy. My lease states that any appliance repairs due to the tenant's negligence are the responsibility of the tenant, but for appliances that old, something was going to happen. We had a tenant that never cleaned out the lint trap, until we told him after the 2nd repair that we would hold him responsible for future repairs, called "additional rent". My contractor now does quarterly property inspections and he checks for that.

Originally posted by @Doug Scarano :
Matt Schelberg you shouldn't be supplying washer and dryer in first place. I supply oven/stove and refrigerator. I know a landlord who doesn't even supply that!

Doug:

The practice of providing appliances, and which ones, is highly market dependent. What works for you in your market, may not be possible or desirable for the OP.

In our location, providing en suite laundry is an expectation in our higher end units and a differentiator in our student housing.

Under our tax laws, most appliances are depreciated over 5-years, so we just building them into our model. If they last more than 5-years (which is the usual case) we smile. If the tenant kills one, the lease holds them accountable for the repair.

Originally posted by @Doug Scarano :
Matt Schelberg you shouldn't be supplying washer and dryer in first place. I supply oven/stove and refrigerator. I know a landlord who doesn't even supply that!

In addition to @Roy N. 's posted reasoning, I have a unit that was built pre Civil War, when doorway widths weren't such a big deal. So to get washer and dryer into the basement that is the only space where they would have room, I have to take off not only the door but the door stop molding too; so if I don't supply, every move a tenant would be having to do some carpentry.

Matt Schelberg - sounds like your only option is to go ahead and fix or replace the units. You can get VERY basic washer/dryer from Best Buy for about $250/each. I would recommend that you purchase the 5yr protection plan. Before anyone flames me for saying that - I used to work a Best Buy - and I know which warranties are worth buying and which ones are a waste.

Just My 2 Cents...

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