Tenant wants a new stove/range

18 Replies

So, my tenant is complaining about the range in a rental unit. The complaints are:

1) Oven light does not work (oven does not have a light at all)

2) Oven is dirty (Shouldn't the tenant be responsible for keeping the oven clean? it's dirtier now then when she moved in)

3) Oven does not hold the proper temp (Seems to work for me)

4) Broiler is dirty (it is really dirty and is missing it's tray/pan. No idea if it ever had the tray or pan)

5) Broiler does not work (this is a basic model range, the broiler is more of a "hold warm" area. But the broiler does work)

This is a very basic range, and I'd buy a similar one if I replaced it. Buy a new range to keep tenant happy, or buy a new tray/pan for the broiler, or clean the damn thing for her, or tell her to live with it? 

How long has the tenant lived there? If this is the only thing she's ever complained about (or all her other complaints were valid) I'd buy a new broiler pan and would show up with an oven thermometer to show her that the oven works well (and if the thermometer shows it's not heating properly I'd have it fixed or buy a nice used one if it was a C-Class property and if it was a A or B-Class property I'd probably buy a new one). 

Tenant just passed 1 year. It's a B class property. It's probably a C-class stove (cheap one) but it's only 3 years old. All complaints are valid, and she does some of the repairs herself, but she's been chronically late with the rent. All opinions appreciated. 

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@David Sisson

What price point is this rental and how old is the range? Is this a good tenant or are you okay with said tenant moving out over a $400 appliance? 

Also, there is a difference between working and working properly. I recently stayed in a vacation rental where the oven "worked" but it wasn't holding proper temp. It was a big deal if you actually are planning to cook. Even just cooking a frozen pizza went from 15 minutes to over an hour. Also, yes the tenant is responsible for maintaining a clean over, but your wording suggests that it wasn't exceptionally clean to begin with. 

I am all about getting and maintaining slightly nicer than basic features in my homes to keep and attract better tenants. If a good tenant is complaining about something going out/not working, it's getting fixed or replaced. Now, I'm not buying $1000 stainless steel ranges, but I'm also not buying the $350 hotpoint ones either. I can get a range for under $500 that looks nice, will attract a tenant that appreciates nicer features and will most likely outlast the "landlord basic" appliance package. 

Is it going to cost me a few hundred dollars over "making them live with it?" Yes. But is the tenant going to feel like I'm meeting their needs and therefore making them more likely to want to stay in the home that I own? Also yes. 

So if it were me, and assuming it legitimately isn't holding proper temps. I would replace it with a slightly upgraded one (that has an oven light and broiler) and call it a day. A vacancy and make-ready is way more expensive than a range, but if the tenant is one you don't care to keep then it may be something that you decide to stand your ground on. 

Awesome, thanks. It's a cheap cheap oven in the first place. I don't really want to spend the $ on a tenant who is late w/the rent, but otherwise she's been a good tenant. 

@David Sisson , I think some of this could have been avoided with proper documentation.

"it's dirtier now then when she moved in" indicates the unit wasn't clean when she moved in.  It's easier to stand firm when your baseline was a completely clean unit; that's absolute.  Not a 'cleaner than now' unit; that's subjective.

Also, paying late and appliances not working properly are separate issues.  You legally cannot retaliate because of her late payment tendencies.  Now, this isn't an 'unlivable' condition but be careful of that mindset.

I would add the pans.  If anything, that could protect your own asset.  As for cleaning, it got dirty from her use therefore she is responsible.  Provide the contact for your cleaning crew and tell her if she wants them she can pay for it.

@David Sisson the stove should not be dirty when someone moves in. Then there is no debate about who made it dirty. Clean appliances and take photos before any tenant moves in.

It is probably not the best idea to put a cheap oven in a B class property. Some people spend considerable time cooking in the kitchen and a bad oven makes the experience miserable.

I don't follow your comments on the broiler being a "keep warm" situation. Broiler is the heating element in the top of the stove and it is high temperature. The broiler pans only cost a few bucks. Not all stoves come with them.

Originally posted by @David Sisson :

I don't really want to spend the $ on a tenant who is late w/the rent, but otherwise she's been a good tenant. 

I think some people would consider these mutually exclusive characteristics.  (I know I do).

I agree with the responses above about having the appliances completely clean on move-in and move-out.  Gotta start with a clean slate, as @Kenny Dahill states.

Here's an excerpt from my lease that I picked up from @Nathan G. some time ago:

We are not obligated to make repairs if you are delinquent in rent payments unless an emergency situation exists.

Something to think about next time around.

 And Good Luck!

The stove has a bottom broiler drawer. I never even looked in it. It's filthy. The inside of the stove wasn't perfect on move in, it's worse now. I'm probably getting her a new stove, $450. Sigh. 

K....complaining about a dirty stove at move in ONE YEAR LATER........ yeah that dog don't hunt. If it was bad at move in, why did she wait a year to mention it? Couldn't have been that bad...... If you have an issue at move in, you mention it at move in...not a year later.

@David Sisson When I’m presented with a somewhat frivolous request for an improved article when the existing article is properly functional, I either decline or I say that I can bring in a new one, but doing so would require a rise in the rent. The amount of the rise ensures that the new article is paid for within a year or within the time left on the tenants lease, whichever is shorter.

@David Sisson . If your getting a new stove one thing to consider is get a self cleaning one. Land-lording 101 teaches new landlords that it’s cheaper and easier to let the oven clean itself than it is to pay the cleaning lady $25 an hour to clean it manually between tenants. Land lording 101 also teaches that when the rent is late a notice to cure or quit is nailed on the door. Once the eviction process starts it does not stop until the rent is paid in full. A couple times of this treatment and rent is on time or the tenant moves when the contract is up. She is late with her rent because you allow her to be late. RR

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We never buy new appliances for our rentals. Where I'm at we have Habitat for Humanity... They test all the donated appliances they get, and give a short warranty (like 15 days) just to make sure an item is not a dud. Average glass top range is $150-$200. Presuming you have a descent NOI on the property that would support a very occasional $200 expense, and you aren't worried about starting some sort of 'trend' with multiple tenants suddenly complain to get a new appliance, why not try and swap it out and appease the tenant.

You win in more than one way... (1) the tenant quits complaining / you get peace and quiet, (2) when you raise their rent the next time they feel like you listened to their concerns and took care of them, etc (you buy some good will).  

Another idea for you... in our lease, we "share" the maintenance expense with our tenants.  The first $100 of any 'wear and tear' repair is at the tenant's expense.  So a roof leak wouldn't be one, but a clogged drain would be... ie. if the tenant contributed to the defective item, they contribute to the repair.  The idea is that if they know they are responsible for a portion of the repairs, they will take better care of the unit and think twice before abusing the property.  Since the average trip charge is $85-$100, this covers the stupid requests... like when the kid flushed a toy down the toilet and clogged it.  That's on the tenant... not the landlord!

The way I explain it is that you have apartments, where the landlord does 100% of the maintenance; then you have (less expensive per square foot) duplexes and SFH's where the tenant is responsible for some of the maintenance.

If you buy her a 'new' one, get a gently used one and tell her she has to keep it clean.  Some of the complaints are baloney. The light not working (who cares), it is dirty-well clean it, the bottom of the broiler tray is missing-get one at a thrift store, the broiler pan is dirty-clean it.

Buy a new stove and increase her rent to pay for the stove, you purchased. when her year date comes up just tell her the rent increase is due to maintaining the properties conditioning and amenities.  :)

@David Sisson if you replace it do not buy the same piece of junk. Buy a nice line used at a refurbisher or get one that your next tenant will also like, and the next one. Gas ranges last a long time. An appliance used daily can be a daily annoyance or make life pleasant for your tenant. Pleasant = stays around longer.

is this a commercial building or less than 4 units? 
If you feel the unit should of always had a nicer oven then just upgrade to make them happy. Otherwise I would personally take the opportunity to update the appliances for them but tell them the rent is going to be adjusted as well. 

New oven for example $50 per month or new fridge/oven/microwave for $100. 
This can be really important in commercial buildings where the buildings value is based off of noi.