Credit Rent for Delayed Appliance Repair

24 Replies

Looking for feedback on how property mangers respond to tenants request for credits for downtime on appliances.

A 5 year old washer went out in one of my properties. I contacted a repair company on Monday and they were not able to get out there until Friday. Then it took them another 4 days to get me the bid. It will take another week to get parts and schedule the repair. Now tenant is asking for a credit to rent for the delay.

They are a good paying tenant. Just resigned them to another 1 year lease. I do have concerns that the repair may be due to abuse by tenant, but no way to prove it.

I have in my leases that any appliances are there as a courtesy to the tenant and repairs or replacement is not guaranteed.  This is because of situation such as this.  I don't have the official wording off the top of my head.  Now I do repair/replace them if needed (only once so far) and have upgraded things for good tenants but this gives me time to do it if needed.

Is a dishwasher or clothes washer?

2 weeks for a non-emergency (inconvenience only) repairs is not out of the question. Is the appliance listed on the rental agreement?

However, since they are good tenants I would be inclined to offer a minimal refund (with owner approval). Do not let them discount from their rent, this will reduce the annual gross rental income for the property owner. I believe (ask a CPA) a rent refund due to maintenance delay may be tax deductible (expense). 

Did they ask for a certain dollar amount off their rent? How much is the rent?

This is a washing machine. It is not specifically listed in the rental agreement. Monthly rent is $1750. They have not asked for a specific amount.

If they have had to use laundromats for 2 weeks due to not being able to use the appliance, it would be a good-will gesture to offer a small credit, $50 or $75, to cover their added expense, not to mention the inconvenience of them having to haul it all there and back.  Laundromats can be expensive, $2 - $4 per load, depending on size, and then dryer if they don't want to haul wet clothes home to dry.   Not sure how many people live there, but it could get expensive if it's a larger family.  

I also have clauses in my lease that cover appliances.  Things do break.   Its just the way it is.  I also do not provide washers or dryers (or dishwashers, if I can avoid it) just to prevent such issues.

At most, I would offer them the cost of taking their laundry to a laundromat.  Maybe five dollars a load for, say, six loads, so a $30 credit.  Maybe if its a large family a little more.

I have never had a tenant ask for a credit and my houses are at the same "level" as yours. 

Personally, I would tell them that we are sorry for the inconvenience but the delay was due to circumstances out of our control. Thank you for your understanding.

I would not offer anything.  However, a $30-50 credit would be reasonable if they were a really good tenant. Just as you have to deal with inconveniences at times, they need to understand that things do break.  You should not have to pay twice for it. (them and for the appliance)

If they are good tenants give them $100 of the next month's rent, and I am sure you don't want to upset a good tenant over a little thing like that.

Joe Gore

I have to pay my mortgage in full whether or not my dishwasher or washer/dryer breaks. Things do break and sometimes take longer to fix than the same day. As @Jon Holdman mentioned, something like a gift card to a laundromat would be appropriate. 

The majority seems to be saying to offer the tenant something as a goodwill gesture. $30-$50 seems to be the magic number.

Great feedback. Thanks for your input.

I'm 100% with @Joe Gore on this one. 

Your "good tenants" didn't sign on for another year in a $1750/mo rental with laundry so they could schlep down to the laundromat while your repair company takes most of week to even get out there and most of another week to get you the bid on the repair.

If you're thinking of giving them a $50 credit, giving them $100 credit costs you an additional $50, or less than the rent on one day's worth of vacancy. Better IMO to err on the side of making them feel like they got treated "more than fairly" to set them on a course towards a third year of renting than to save $50 now, leave a bad taste in their mouth over the laundry issue, and turn the apartment over next year.

Another option would be to see if your local Laundromat offers a Drop Off service. They could take their clothes there and get them Washed, Dried and Folded. Average cost is about $1 a pound.

If it's only for a week they would probably only use it once or twice. 

It would be easier for the tenant and they may continue to use the service in the future. 

Disclaimer: I own 3 Laundromats and one has a Drop Off Service.

What about just buying a clean, cheap, used washer on Craigslist - easy to find for less than $100 - and swap it out with them until the broken one is fixed?

Then you always have a spare and don't have to worry about giving a credit the next time this happens.

I would not give a credit because I would not want to start that expectation!!! My rentals are that much so I am speaking from experience. 

Interesting idea the drop off service,  it is not like a credit but rather makes up for what they don't have.   I might mix the two ideas and give them a credit at the drop off service.  I would only do this if it were like 3 weeks or more not for a week or so.  This must be a nice washer because washers aren't things we usually find out being worth a repair.   What do you think the tenant is doing that might have contributed to the problem?  

I supply Fridge, Washer and Dryer in my rentals and it states in the lease that those appliances are in working condition when tenant moves in and any repairs after 30 days are their responsibility.

My rentals are priced in the same ballpark as yours, and I've not had an issue.

A long term tenant called about their dryer not working once and asked who was responsible for repair, I replied that they were, including a copy of the lease and pointing out where that was covered in the lease.

This particular tenant keeps house in tip top condition and recently renewed for 2 more years.

Now had I not had that clause in the lease and I was faced with the same situation you're in I would probably lean towards a credit of $50 to $75 off next months rent.  

Give them options. Tell them you will credit them the total cost of repairs from their rent, provided they pay for the repairs. Or, you can tell them that you will pay for the full cost of repairs, provided they pay rent in full. 

I think you should the tenant and when the tenant move out then you can jump up and down and say why did I listen to everyone.

Joe Gore

Wow.. tough landlords. Do you not repair stoves or disposals or the toilet in the spare bathroom either?

I view washer/dryer different than other appliances. I don't provide them. For exactly this reason. But my rentals are at a significantly lower price point than 1750 a month.

But if I DID provide them... and with a rental at this price point, it would be very possible then I would take responsibility for them. Yes, things DO break... and when they break through normnal wear and tear, it's the landlord's responsibility.

Love the idea of a gift card and a "Thanks for your understanding" note explaining that you can't issue a rent credit. If someone is forking over $1750/mo, a modicum of customer service is certainly warranted. Make sure they're feeling like they're getting what they're paying for, write it off as an expense, it will almost certainly save you the less than 1 day rent somewhere along the line. 

Now, if this was a $400/mo rental, the story might be different, but ultimately good tenants are good tenants and keeping them is usually worth a small amount of hassle. 

A short personal story, a bit off topic but relevant, I rented a 2 bd/1bath unit with a friend in college from a local professor. We were great tenants, always on time, never partied (at our place at least!), never complained about anything or had anything break, etc. The professor sent a $5 gift card to the local coffee shop on everyone's birthday, as well as to each tenant just before exams. He had the quietest building and longest term tenants, despite not being the cheapest landlord around, in part because he spent about $100 on coffee for his tenants. I didn't not move out my senior year because of the $15/yr he gave me, but I sure had a great opinion of him and have since referred other students to his units. Small outlay, great results. 

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In the past I have given my tenants $20 - $30 in rolled quarters when this has happened and said that the next xxx washes are on me by way of an apology for the delay in getting the repair done. 

It has always been seen as a positive gesture by the tenants because they feel that a) I care about the fact that they were inconvenienced and b) they are getting something for free.

The plus is that those quarters end up back in the machines waiting for me the next time I empty them.

@Elizabeth Colegrove normally I agree with most of your posts but I think you are off on this one. You're not giving them a credit for something petty; having to gather all of your clothes to sit at a laundry service for a few hours and spend money is a huge inconvience. The entire time the tenant is at the laundry what are they thinking?  They are getting angry that they are spending their time and money for something they already pay for (in the rent).  By giving a small but fair credit you cancel out that anger. Makes for a better tenant and a better relationship, and I disagree that it opens the door for the tenant to expect a credit for any little item. 

I wouldn't give out cash credit directly, because it will set up the expectation... Next time, u will find all the appliance break more often and they will expect credit every time. 

I think a laundromat gift card is better than cash credit.

For future, put a clause in your lease to cover all these scenario.

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