Replacing refrigerator issues

15 Replies

I have a rental which used to be my primary that tenants have been renting for 16 months on a 24 month lease..  The fridge has broken and I replaced it the next day with a full size working standard 19 ft fridge/freezer.. The previous fridge that broke was much nicer no question but it was my primary residence at the time.  

Question I have is this a slumlordy thing to do?  My tenants are pretty upset and are demanding I replace with a equal caliber fridge to the old one.. Problem is the replacement fridge I gave them works just fine and is full size bought on Craigslist for 200$.. No it isn't stainless steel, no it doesn't have a water dispenser in front door, yes it is slightly smaller than the old one, but it is in my mind a perfectly acceptable working fridge for a family of 4..  And I had it replaced the next day.. An equal cost replacement brand new is going to be like 2000$.. Are my tenants being too picky or is it my responsibility to replace an appliance with an equal one that was there at time lease was signed?  

What's the monthly rent? If it's $2000 then yes there are quality expectations that they should reasonably have. If it's $700 then you are fine I my opinion and they are being picky.

I would give you the Slumlord of the Year award!

In all seriousness, unless this is a Class C/D property, buying a very small, very cheap, used fridge from craigslist is pretty insulting to your tenant and reflects how you expect them to take care of the property. After all, if you don't care about the property and how it is furnished, why should they care about how it is maintained? Additionally, since they rented it with the current fridge, I understand how they would expect a like-kind replacement.

There is a middle ground between buying that and spending $3000 on a new, state of the art fridge, and I think you would have done well to find it. I'm sure if you spent a hundred or two more, you could have found an equivalent used fridge to replace the old one. Personally, I would have went deal shopping and found a new fridge at a deep discount - scratch and dent places are great places to find these types of deals.

-Christopher

P.S. In my opinion, 19 sqft is small for a family of four. Excluding the freezer, you should have about 5 sqft per person in the house of storage space. This size refridgerator would be fine for a bachelor or a couple.

I am based in New Jersey and provide basic refrigerators in all my residential rentals. However I am noticing that whenever I lease the single family homes, the Tenants all have their own refrigerators. So they end up moving MY refrigerator to the basement. Don't know if this is a trend, but if so it saves Landlords lots of grief. 

IMHO your tenants are being picky.  Is there a clause in your Lease regarding appliances? If the old one broke, was it their responsibility to pay for repairs?

I can't find anything in lease about appliance replacement.. It was my first go at renting and it was just a generic print off internet lease.. Current rent there is 1100$ and that's pretty generous already on my part as it could be easily higher... I'd rank the property as C+_B- range.. Rents are just very high in my area

I decided to order one new for 900$ that is a compromise.. I didn't put that craigslist one in there to be slummy I was really just trying to get them a working fridge as quickly as possible at a low cost to me.   it's not like it's a disaster,  it's one that if I saw in a home I wouldn't think twice about it just looks like a regular everyday fridge... Ordering a new one and having it delivered would have left them without a fridge at all for 5-7 days potentially and then they would be asking me for discounts on rent on top of a new fridge... What's the common rule on something like that?  Is it customary to give discounted rent if tenants are without a necessary appliance like a fridge?? And how would you factor that?

@Richard Slade

I wouldn't give discounts on that.  You made an effort immediately to correct the situation.  I had a similar situation for an oven-it was an odd size and I had to get it delivered from out of state.  It took several days, but I acted immediately.

Did you think about fixing the old fridge since it seems like a nice one?

Many fridge repairs only need a $20 part, and if you hire someone, maybe another $125 labor.

I think you're doing the right thing by going back and replacing it with a fridge similar to the one that they had when they moved in. I don't think they are being picky they just want what they were used to. I have an ice/water dispenser in my fridge and there is no way I'd ever own another fridge without one. As long as it matches the functionality but if they were complaining about it not being stainless when everything else is the same then yea they'd be overdoing it. 

I look at it as a little bit of a bait and switch. Tenants do it all the time and we get pissed as landlords when the deal changes mid lease (a pet, a BF that has moved in, etc) so why wouldn't you expect the tenants to be upset when you tried to sneak in a replacement that was not like kind and quality to what they signed up for? Doesn't have to be the exact model but I would expect a SS fridge with water in the door if that is what I had. If your AC broke would you replace it with 4 window units? Of course not.
About 2 years ago I started charging $25 a month extra rent for a refrigerator. Half the people have a fridge of their own and don't want it. I save one less headache to solve. When I do buy an appliance I buy it new and get a 5 year guarantee on it. It breaks - I throw it away after the warranty.

Generally you should try and match the quality of the home. But I'd definitely avoid one with an ice maker. Those break all the time, then tenants want them fixed, and they leak a lot causing flooring damage.

You can get a pretty cheap stainless steel fridge with no ice maker that will look nice.

Originally posted by @Judy P. :

I am based in New Jersey and provide basic refrigerators in all my residential rentals. However I am noticing that whenever I lease the single family homes, the Tenants all have their own refrigerators. So they end up moving MY refrigerator to the basement. Don't know if this is a trend, but if so it saves Landlords lots of grief. 

IMHO your tenants are being picky.  Is there a clause in your Lease regarding appliances? If the old one broke, was it their responsibility to pay for repairs?

 Just happened to me as well. I stored it for now in the basement but may just end up selling it. As for the fridge the OP bought, the old refrigerator was some part of the selling of the unit. To get the smallest cheapest you could get feels like a downgrade to the tenants. That is one reason *not to have the best appliances in a rental.

Most leases will say if it is there when they sign the lease and it breaks down you have to fix or replace it. Personally I do not put refrigerators in my houses. Most tenants have their own and the ones who don't sometimes steal them when they move out. 

Originally posted by @Judy P. :

I am based in New Jersey and provide basic refrigerators in all my residential rentals. However I am noticing that whenever I lease the single family homes, the Tenants all have their own refrigerators. So they end up moving MY refrigerator to the basement. Don't know if this is a trend, but if so it saves Landlords lots of grief. 

IMHO your tenants are being picky.  Is there a clause in your Lease regarding appliances? If the old one broke, was it their responsibility to pay for repairs?

Because in D class areas everyone steals them :(

Do not let tenants dictate your business practices. If the replacement is of good quality working and similar in size you have fulfilled your requirements. Providing your lease does not state appliances will be replaced like for like you are good to go and should not feel pressured by tenants. When they own their own home they can establish their own standards.

Next thing they will be dictating the type and style of flooring, furnace and roof shingles.

@Richard Slade No icemakers in a rental, ever. They are finicky and require repair. You mention the fridge was in place in what was your former primary residence. Was it better than what you would have put in the unit to begin with if you had to go to a store and buy a new one for a rental unit? What are the other appliances like - white stove, dishwasher, etc? If so, a basic white fridge would be OK. If not and the other appliances are stainless or otherwise upgraded then your el cheapo used fridge has to go I am afraid.

While I have bought used washers and dryers without problems I would be wary of used fridges. If fridges fail it is often the compressor or something related to it and in that case the fridge is toast. A $200 fridge is certainly frugal but I am not sure that it rises (or falls) to the level of a slumlord. If your tenant is protesting the fridge there are two potential causes: they are picky or you have failed to meet reasonable expectations given the character of the unit and the standard of the full set of appliances in place. Which do you think it is?

Unless you say otherwise upfront there would be an expectation that the item would be similiar in size and perfomance. I have made it clear on one rental that we wont put in an icemaker if it breaks.  The thing is tempremental but it came with the house. Tenants have to shut it off periodically to make it work but I would not replace it

Since you got another fridge now i would just say I was trying to be responsive so I got you something the next day. I ordered something permenant that will be here next week. I would also tell them that should something break the replacement will be similiar but not identical.  Highlight your qick response. Try to stay away from the idea that they have input on what you buy or get to choose replacements

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