Including refrigerator - personal property? maintenance?

30 Replies

Hello all,

I have a question about including a refrigerator (and washer + dryers for that matter) in our rentals.  Currently we have 4 rentals, all include refrigerators.  As the fridge is technically personal property (ours are not built in or attached to the property) should the landlord be responsible for maintenance and repairs on them?  Are the extended warranties a good idea?  Currently we are just going thru the manufacturer's web sites and ordering the repairs thru them without any extended warranties.

Thank you for your time!


It depends on how your lease is written. The fact that they are not built in is not relevant. A lease can be written such that the tenant is responsible for all maintenance, and replacement if necessary. If your lease doesn't say that, then it's probably you who gets to pay.

When they rented the unit they took it in as is condition. If the fridge was there and working at the time, then you must continue providing it unless your lease says otherwise.

In addition to the way your lease is written....also look to what is customary in your market place. In my market, and most of the northeast, appliances are de facto the responsibility of the landlord

I include a clause in the lease that states the appliances are included as a courtesy, and the tenant is responsible for maintenance. Has worked so far.

A fair number of landlords will add a clause in the lease similar to what Scott has.  Some may exclude the stove and refrigerator in this but add any washer and dryer as a "courtesy" appliance.  This is especially true if there is a concern that the tenant may have friends/relatives that they will invite in to use the washer/dryer freely for their own use.


@Gail K. , that's a great point. It never occured to me that they may allow friends to come wash their clothes - but that happened to my husband and I when we were younger and had our own place - people asked if they could do laundry at our place more than once.

@Jason Cunningham , I would personally not rent a property without a refrigerator - they are difficult to install and the damage possibilities are not worth not providing one. However, I would never have one with an automatic ice maker in it - that's the first thing to break. 

Check out the local market to see what is being offered in comparable rentals and go from there.

The street were my 6-plex is located is all small (4-6) MFUs - - some rent with stoves and refrigerators and some do not.

I provide them as a marketing edge against those that do not.  They are on the move-in checklist but I don't bother with notations in the lease re maintenance.  They get damaged far sooner than any maintenance issues - - when's the last time you had a service call on yours at home?  Yes, before anyone comments on it, if/when they're damaged it's deducted from the deposit.

Washer/Dryers?  I provide hookups, but no appliances.  It's 50/50 that the tenant will have or acquire them - - singles seldomly do, families almost always.

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Originally posted by @Account Closed :

@Jeff B. If the landlord provides stoves and refrigerators, the landlord needs to fix it if anything goes wrong and not burden the tenant with the repairs. It will cost you more in court if the tenant sues for deducting from the deposit.

 WOW.  I've been doing this for 19yrs - - don't you thing I know this by now.  Apparently you didn't understand that I've never had a maintenance call because units get replaced when damaged.

I'll take your comment under advisement. 

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John is correct and if you depreciate your appliances for taxes as you should be, not making repairs or paying costs then you're filing a false tax return. Now, if you have a commercial tenant they have lease-hold improvements they can account for such matters, but not residential tenants. 

Doesn't really matter what the fad of the day is locally, talk to the IRS!  :)

I've always been under the impression that if the landlord provides it, they cover it.

It doesn't matter what I state in the lease as a convenience or the tenant is responsible.

I live in liberal Massachusetts, a very tenant friendly state !

Also, its pretty standard around my neck of the woods to provide a fridge.  Over some 20 years of doing this, I think only one perspective tenant had their own fridge.

Because we had to rehab the properties we kept as rentals, they all have new appliances, with the exception of one unit.  I think they should be included, because, like someone else pointed out, you could have damage to the floors, etc, with install/removal. However, we may start adding in the "courtesy clause" and have the tenants be responsible for repairs, especially as the appliances get older. 

If the fridge needs replacing, just buy a new one. You can deduct 50% with bonus depreciation the first year.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

@Jeff B. If the landlord provides stoves and refrigerators, the landlord needs to fix it if anything goes wrong and not burden the tenant with the repairs. It will cost you more in court if the tenant sues for deducting from the deposit.

 Totally wrong, as usual. It depends on the wording in the lease. There are no laws that require a landlord to provide a working stove or refrigerator, unless that was agreed upon in the lease. 

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Originally posted by @Account Closed :

@Ryan R. Get your facts straight. I said if the landlord provides a stove and refrigerator the landlord needs to be the one to fix it if something goes wrong not the tenant. Good luck if the tenant sues you.

 I had my facts correct the first time. Just because you provide a stove and refrigerator does not mean you are required to maintain and/or replace those items. It depends what the lease says, there is no law.

Once again, your posts are almost always incorrect - this is another fact I got right the first time. Ever notice how your ratio of votes to posts is much lower than most other people? 

Furthermore, a tenant is not going to sue you about a refrigerator. They are usually too stupid to figure out the legal system and then they realize it cost more than a refrigerator to actually sue somebody. And then they would lose...

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Originally posted by @Account Closed :

Your votes are very low. Why do you hide your profile?

 39% of my posts have been voted on. Only 18% of your posts get voted on. You think that might be because you frequently post a bunch of complete nonsense that is usually off topic? It's certainly not because people think your posts have better content than mine...

Oh, yeah, I'm also the third top contributor to this section. How come your name isn't up on that list? 

I don't hide my profile, I just don't fill it out. Why would I share personal information online with a bunch of whack jobs like you around to read it?

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Hi @Ryan R. and @John Anderson ,

Guys, be nice please. :)

Anywho, back on topic, there is a minority opinion that I find interesting. I don't know that I agree with it, but I find it interesting. The theory/argument/opinion goes as such:

  • I want high quality tenants. 
  • If they are required to purchase their own fridge/washer/drier and use professional installers/movers to put it in (put professional installation in the lease), this guarantees a tenant that is not living month to month, and that they will want to be here a while.
  • This automatically weeds out many people that are more likely to be problem tenants. 
  • This also yields tenants more interested in eventually owning a home ("well, we will need to buy a fridge in 3 years anyways, once our down payment is saved... may as well get it out of the way"), meaning they have plans to move out in 2-3 years, thus auto-solving my problems with rent control. I want them to want to be here a while, but not forever, because of rent control. 
  • I may lose $100/month because I didn't include fridges, but consider the cost of just a single eviction, and it's worth it to substantively reduce the odds of dealing with that.

Kind of an interesting minority opinion, eh?

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@Chris Mason

I think it really depends more on what the composition of your tenants and what other landlords offer.

Example, I have a couple of different long term tenants and each of them are made up of working professionals but they are not family.  So, none of them will have a fridge

I really like the ideas about putting in a clause or addendum about the appliances that states that they are the tenants responsibility.  But I would caution to make sure you check it out with your state's rental laws.  Also be aware of unintended consequences.  If the tenant is responsible for repairs what happens if the appliance is beyond repair?  Who pays for that if it came with the unit? You would think (and the tenants will ! ) that the landlord should be responsible.  If that's the case then it's cheaper for the tenant to destroy rather than repair.

Always, as @Russell Brazil suggested, look at other rentals in your area and see what is customary.  We do not include refrigerators with our rentals in the California desert.  So much so, that if we buy another SFR with a frig then we sell off the frig before a tenant moves in.   On the other hand, in the Boise Idaho area refrigerators are expected. 

Russell Brazil

Originally posted by @Bill Gulley :

John is correct and if you depreciate your appliances for taxes as you should be, not making repairs or paying costs then you're filing a false tax return.

 I don't repair the refrigerators because they don't need repairs, not a question of refusing to repair.  I get about five years out the appliance before dumb tenants buy a another out of their deposits.  As for taxes, their well done by my CPA and as his license is at stake with every filling, I'll continue to listen to him.

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