Appliances - What is Landlord's Responsibility to Repair/Replace?

8 Replies

I have a duplex that has long term tenants in the upper unit and the lower unit has been short term rental (Airbnb). I have a long term tenant moving into the lower unit now. There are two washers and two dryers in the basement, however only one set has ever worked. I didn't give the short term guests access to laundry so it wasn't a big deal but now that there are regular tenants moving in the upper tenants asked when I plan to repair/replace the other two machines. I guess my plan was to not replace them! There is nothing in the lease that I can find that would require me to do it. I pay for water and they aren't coin-op machines. Am I being stingy or is it reasonable that there is one working washer and dryer that all tenants have access to for free? Oh! And the upper tenants' lease is up 9/30/18 and they already told me they are moving out of state. Thanks for your valuable input.

If you provide it you are responsible to repair it, the fact that the washer and dryer were there when they moved in would lead me to lean towards a you should provide laundry services answer, however you may want to switch out to coin laundry or submeter the water for the future anyway.

This should have been detailed in your lease. Going forward include a paragraph detailing your obligation as well as theirs. 

This is the section I have in my lease


Stove and Refrigerator, Dishwasher

Landlord is responsible for repairs to appliances listed above unless otherwise stated here:
Dishwasher will not be repaired, If tenant would like to pay for dishwasher repairs they may, upon written permission from Landlord, all repairs or replacements will become sole property of the Landlord and will remain in the unit when Tenant vacates.

Tenant will be held liable damage to any appliances beyond normal wear and tear. 

This is not a great situation. However, your lease is what counts you should have a section about what appliances are provided. Without this you could run into a situation where a leaving tenant tries to claim your appliances are theirs. With your current situation I think technically since the washer/dryer never worked if you did not advertise a washer dryer or tell them they would have them you don’t have to repair or replace them. Then again you don’t have anywhere in your lease that says they aren’t provided so you couldn’t prove this. So you are in a pickle and this would be dependent on your states laws and a how a judge felt about it if it got that far.

That said you need to question why they thought they would have them. If I had this issue I would have removed them and advertised washer/dryer hook ups. It’s reasonable if the tenants saw them they assumed they worked or even if you said they were broken that they would be fixed.

With having nothing in the lease and hopefully having the desire to be an ethical person In my opinion you should fix them or replace them.

@Aaron K. , so if I replace one free washer and one free dryer with two coin-op washers and dryers that's cool?

Hi Deanna! That's an interesting decision to make. Not only is vacancy an important matter, but also whether Airbnb will face restrictions too. It's not uncommon to see 1 set of machines for both upper and lower tenants, however the answer is likely predicated, in my opinion, on the rent tenants are paying and your expected ROI over the next few years. I just wrote a post on the topic actually, with the idea that new appliances are an investment. A dirty broken down washing machine is a big turnoff for prospective renters and even current renters might think you don't care about them. Given the low price of machines, I'd buy another set and let them have two sets to do their laundry! They'll like that.

I would leave the functional machine and add a coin opp next to it. remove the broken one!  usually you can find a scrap guy to remove it for free.

Memorialize in writing to the new tenant that coin opp laundry machines are included in the lease.  Let them know the "cost free" machine will be removed on or before October 1.  

Draft a note to the existing tenant that  the "cost free" machine will be removed on or before October 1 and that should they need to hold over the laundry service will be all coin opp as of October 1. 

@Deanna Boss it should be unless it says laundry is included in the lease, or your state/ locality has laws prohibiting it.  Even if you had to provide laundry to existing tenants you could lower the rent by 5 or 10 dollars to compensate them

@Deanna Boss never leave broken, non-functioning appliances in a rental property. That is your mistake for misleading them to believe there was a set of washer and dryers for each unit. It is implied that anything broken should be fixed by a landlord. Unless you explicitly stated in your lease "washer and dryer repair and maintenance is tenants responsibility". I always have broken items removed, even if it costs me money like having water softeners taken out.

I would NOT replace the free washer/dryer with a coin op after signing a lease with a tenant. If you do, then you need to come to terms on rent decrease compensation. 

I would recommend one of three things, but I like option 3 best:

1. Explain to the tenant that only one washer and dryer are provided and shared between the two units. Remove the broken appliances. People will come and haul these away for free, so there is no expense to you. Sharing a washer and dryer can be unpleasant, plus double duty means they will break more often.

2. Pickup a second washer and dryer ($600 or so). Either assign a washer/dryer to each unit or tell them both are shared. The advantage of having two washers and dryers is that if one breaks, it reduces pressure on time to repair or replace. 

3. Pickup a used washer and dryer and give it to the tenant. So each tenant has their own washer and dryer. You give them away, so they own them, which means they own all repairs. In the future when the tenant leaves, they either take the washer and dryer with them or you have them hauled away. Every tenant moving forward must provide their own washer and dryer. 

I like option 3 best because washer and dryers have the most repair issues. That is because they are highly mechanical devices. Mechanical devices break more often than things like stoves or refrigerators. 

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