Techniques for "tenant friction" free laundry room?

11 Replies

I just completed the laundry room for a 4U, and one of the tenants is very concerned about conflicts, he suggested assigning days of the week which I thought absurd. I can see it being annoying for a 3th floor tenant to trek down to the basement only to find the washer in use. Has anybody interesting idea on how to lubricate this?  

FWIW the laundry is free, I decided the long time to recover the $1700 or so it would cost for coin ops was not worth the hassle. I picked up machines for $75 ea.

If it is for free I would tell the guy to pound pavement. Is he kidding?

One of my new tenants was concerned about crowding on the new coin ops I have. I just told him I would gladly buy another set if they were getting that much use. No issues have arisen...

Updated almost 3 years ago

*Let the tenant work something out with his neighbors but if you need to be involved in it I would just pull the w/d.

I agree with tenant. When I was younger my local laundromat had specific days each person could go. I was only allowed in on Wednesdays between the hours of 1 and 1:05. Perhaps a similar set up would work with your new tenant. then when he comes back to planet earth, tell him that washers and dryers are provided as a courtesy on a first come, first served basis. If he wants them all to himself he can buy a house or rent somewhere with in unit washer/dryer.

Originally posted by @Johann Jells :

I just completed the laundry room for a 4U, and one of the tenants is very concerned about conflicts, he suggested assigning days of the week which I thought absurd. I can see it being annoying for a 3th floor tenant to trek down to the basement only to find the washer in use. Has anybody interesting idea on how to lubricate this?  

FWIW the laundry is free, I decided the long time to recover the $1700 or so it would cost for coin ops was not worth the hassle. I picked up machines for $75 ea.

1st thing I would do is rethink the current laundry situation you have. 

If you are going to provide free laundry I would provide 4 separate hookups for the tenants so they can all purchase their own washers & dryers.

If that isn't in play for you I would get the coin operated machines as a landlord provided free washing machine is outside of market norms for this type of property. Having coin operated laundry does more for your bottom line in regards to lowering your cost than providing you with coin revenue.

Ya see with free laundry you'll get tenants who will invite friends and family over to do their laundry on your dime as their landlord's probably charge. This will cause your water bill to go sky high.

I know the common wisdom is tenants will abuse free laundry, but with decent upwardly mobile tenants in a gentrying area this is not a problem. I've had a laundry in the basement of a 3U for 13 years with no problems other than maintenance. In fact, the tenant making the suggestion is the lowest functioning there, the legacy tenant in the basement studio (legal) on SSI who does the garbage and shoveling for me.  If it becomes a problem, I've invested very little in the machines, and can go the coin-op route. Experience tells me that laundry cost, like providing heat, doesn't cost what your utility bill is, it costs what you didn't build into the rent.

Post the laundry room rules, send a copy to all the tenants and put in a dummy security camera (or a real one if you want). People will behave better when they think they can be caught doing bad things and it will give confidence to people worried that other tenants will take their laundry out without putting it in the dryer.

I think a cam would be obnoxious, but an interesting idea has occured to me. My son's best friend is a computer major home for the summer, I'm going to ask him if he could make a device to monitor washer usage via wifi to a website, or better yet an app. That way I can tell how many washes are being done, and a tenant can simply check the site to see if the washer is in use. The  sensor part is easy, a coil around one of the wires feeding the washer to generate a signal current, the rest is above my technical skills unless I wanted a really deep dive.  There might even be a market for it!  Potentially you can add bells and whistles like getting a text when the washer finishes, whether its your own load or you're waiting.

I have a coin laundry set up in my 12 unit. The tenants post their times and have set the rules regarding hours etc. It seems to be working fine, they keep the room very clean, all I do is haul away the piles of quarters.

Hi johann,

Providing free laundry room facilities is a great perk if you cannot house machines in the individual units, so I hope you are building this cost into the rents.

Lots of good suggestions here including posting of common courtesy rules such as cleaning lint trap after each use, not leaving clothes sit in washer or dryer, and locking door before leaving the facility. I would also suggest posting copy of operation manual and troubleshooting tips that may prevent unnecessary calls as well as including a number to call if there is a maintenance emergency. A security camera is a good idea if residents have safety concerns of outsiders getting unauthorized access. I would present it in this way to allay concerns residents may have concerning privacy.

@Johann Jells   I gotta say, having just completed our laundry room, the tenants love the coin ops, and in the short time they have been there they are being used. They appreciate that I bought brand new Speed Queens as well.

I understand you keeping cost down (in the very short term), but if you are going to foot the bill then spend some cash on efficient machines. 

It seems to me you have made your life a hell of a lot more difficult because you refused to just buy coin ops. Developing an app? As far as not having it built into the rent- I disagree. In theory it makes sense, and if you have 2 identical, competing properties yes. But in practice where I am, I could never charge more in rent because I plopped 2 $75 machines in the basement. On the other hand- my potential tenants were very interested in knowing when the coin op would be finished.

Could I have charged more with en suite? Sure-maybe, even though I am at the top of my market. But having ripped them out I can tell you- never in my buildings. How some of them never resulted in fires I do not know... extremely dangerous. 

I agree with @Andrew B. : "tell him that washers and dryers are provided as a courtesy on a first come, first served basis". I have one set of coin-ops in an 8 unit and don't have any problems. So far the tenants have worked it out on their own (because they have to). Some tenants use them, some prefer to go to the laundromat and use the bigger machines, and some take their clothes to family. 

I wouldn't want free ones unless only tenants could access them. Where I'm at it wouldn't take long before friends, family, and ex-tenants would be using them.