Rental with no working oven or stove

30 Replies

As a landlord, how much would you expect to credit your tenant if the oven and stove stopped working and you couldn't replace it for 40 days? The tenant is a family of three and has to order out or dine out almost every meal other than what they can make in a microwave or toaster. Total rent is $3200 for a condo in Newport Coast, CA.

Sorry to answer a question with a question - but why would it take more than a month to replace an oven/stove?

They originally tried to go through the homeowners insurance program but it took too long so they ended up buying one but it won't be delivered until November 10th.  Oven went out on October 1st.

@Gary Wallace Couple of questions; Do they have renters insurance? Are you having a hard time getting appliances? How often do they eat out? If you need to reimburse for food, I would imagine that a flat number like $150 to $200 per day. Why not a free months rent?

Why would it take 40 days to replace an oven??

You need to check with your local ordinances and landlord tenant laws as there are certain things that landlords are required to provide to make a residence "habitable."

In Ohio our code stipulates, "(4) Maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning fixtures and appliances, and elevators, supplied or required to be supplied by the landlord;" It sounds like appliances fall under that and you may be in violation of your landlord obligations until it is fixed. I would consult an attorney in your area if you are unsure. 

@Alex Heidenreich that is a great idea. I'll take a look at the California code.


@Kim Meredith Hampton The tenant is cooking some basic breakfasts in the morning using the microwave for eggs and the toaster for bread and waffles but obviously cannot cook anything substantial without a stove or oven.  They've been able to bbq here and there.  But having to probably order or dine out at least once a day if not twice.  

Sorry man but this sounds completely backwards. 
Instead of buying a $500 oven from Home Depot with next day delivery you want to give them hundreds of dollars for nothing or for breaking your oven. Why are tenants supplying the oven? I think it’s pretty much a law everywhere landlord must provide heat, hot water, and oven. 
If they picked the one that took that long to arrive why is it your problem now?
Your tenants are running your business. Not you. 

I'll second what he said ^^^.  $500 from a box store and they deliver and haul off your old one.  If it's an electric oven, they are real easy to connect to the power supply.

@Michael C.   I'm neither the tenant or the landlord.  The tenant is a friend of mine and they didn't break the oven. It's an electrical malfunction and told the landlord on the day is stopped working.  The landlord stated they were going to have their homeowners insurance program come and try and fix it. That took two weeks and it ended up not being fixable.  The landlord then had to purchase another oven that won't arrive until November 10th.  My friend has had to spend more money than usual on food due to having to dine out or order take out.  

Originally posted by @Michael C. :

Sorry man but this sounds completely backwards. 
Instead of buying a $500 oven from Home Depot with next day delivery you want to give them hundreds of dollars for nothing or for breaking your oven. Why are tenants supplying the oven? I think it’s pretty much a law everywhere landlord must provide heat, hot water, and oven. 
If they picked the one that took that long to arrive why is it your problem now?
Your tenants are running your business. Not you. 

California is full of wierdos and stupid laws, so this may not apply, but here in NC I have no obligation to give them any cooking appliances. If I rented it with those included then it's use is owed as part of the rent, but that would depend on how the lease is written. It's not a "law" that I provide them with anything more than water and heat.

But regardless of the lease...a tenant should not be replacing a stove. Somebody screwed up, this isn't how it works. If I realized this is something that is going to take more than a few days I would have bought a cheap hotplate on Amazon and sent it to them...that's it.

Eating out doesn't have to be much more expensive than cooking in your house - and you're also saving all that time and electricity, so they aren't out as much as they think they are.

@Gary Wallace

Hi Gary, I feel your pain on this one. 

Here in Massachusetts, state sanitary code requires a stove in a rental, but not a refrigerator - go figure that one out. However, if you list the appliances in the lease as being the property of the owner, then it is your obligation to provide what is written in the lease.

Just had a gas stove delivery today after three weeks, and two other deliveries are taking 30 days for a new stove and fridge. The problem is scarcity of inventory being blamed on covid for production shortages from three months ago. It is scary when you walk into Home Depot and the door section shelves are totally empty. It's not just appliances, but right now a lot of building materials are in short order.

I think having a candid conversation with the resident is the best course of action moving forward. Give them some options. Let them know the situation about back orders. Look for other out of the box solutions like Craigslist or local Facebook groups looking for a used stove. We always try to keep a few appliances in storage just in case if a tenant cannot wait. We have been lucky that our residents; given the option, were happy to wait for new if it took a few extra weeks instead of taking the backup unit out of storage. Being their choice in the mater, we did not offer any rent discount. If they did want the rent discounted, we would get them the backup stove before end of business that day. We are fortunate enough to have the appliances, the trucks, and the staff to back up our offer.

We had a resident's fridge breakdown a few months into covid, and he worked at Lowes. He was able to get a new fridge from inventory in the store from the back room and get the employee discount. He bought it and we reimbursed him for it. We gladly picked it up in our truck and delivered it for him, and saved about $300 on a stainless French door fridge with an icemaker, which is what he had to start with.

As far as a discount, I would make that the last option. See if you can offer one of the other options to get them a used, or wait for the new. Then let them decide.

The thing I hate about used appliances, or trying to fix them, is that you could spend within a few hundred dollars of a new machine just trying to fix the old ones. And then, you are still stuck with an old one that has been repaired. One more repair and it becomes obvious that you should have bought the new machine. 

If I were to offer them any discount at all, it would not exceed the cost of a new stove. Afterall, that is the only thing that is missing, right? I am sure you could find them a backup with a little effort, or even pull it out of another rental that is vacant or under repair. Also try checking with the other landlords you know. They may just have one kicking around in storage they would loan you or sell it to you cheap until the new stove comes in.

There are also a bunch of other good posts and ideas here too. Gotta love the BiggerPockets community!!!

@Gary Wallace - yes the big box stores are backed up for any ovens and stoves or appliances that are “on sale” or in a promotional time. It takes this long for me every time for the last 2-3 years. They keep so little inventory. Easy quick solution for the friends is to be logical — there are portable countertop stoves/burners that are electric, induction which are awesome and gas type which are great too. It sucks and the landlord should be a better person and go get a $100-200 used oven for a few weeks, but sound like they are penny pinchers.

I understand that you are not the landlord. So instead of waiting for 40 days for the appliances, why not just buy over stores for any oven toaster and stove. Instead of reimbursing  for the food or giving back money to them. That would be more efficient right and less costly. 

Answer you are looking for: $1 Million dollars, those poor people!

Answer from the dirty landlord: If they have renters insurance then the answer is to file a claim for loss of use. 

Answer in reality: Replace the stove in a $3200 a month rental with an off the shelf unit for $500 and be done. 

NOTE: You don't credit rent. It is like asking "How much would you expect to credit a borrower if you failed to get a mortgage commitment by the date on contract? The family can't move and is now living in a hotel"

@Gary Wallace appliances are short everywhere brother! Let me change your thought process. If you want to discount rent, which is perfectly fine, but why not ask them what they think is fair and let them answer.

Honestly, in these situations I Pro rate rent based on number of days they were without it.

@Gary Wallace for less than $25 you can buy an electric griddle and you can buy electric table top coils for $12 a piece, which will let you use standard pots. You buy a toaster over for less than $50 - many people like to use a toaster oven for some regular cooking. You can buy large crock pots for $40 - we cook three to four days a week in a crock pot, even with a stove.

The point is that there are many low cost appliances that could be used to make meals more affordably. Ordering food was their choice and it was not the least economic way to get by in this situation.

I would also question how many days a week were they ordering take out prior to the stove going out. The other factor is what take out did they order? Did they get Costco family cold meals for $15-20 or did they order full meals from their favorite place for $60. You also have to factor in that when you cook food at home it has a cost. Most people spend hundreds a month on groceries. Eggs and toast for a whole month costs near nothing.

On the flip side, the landlord made a horrible choice by getting a home warranty. They are a rip off and their experience here is common. I have heard of it even taking longer. If the landlord couldn't resolve quickly, they should have called around and found a faster solution.

I am not sure the tenant is entitled to much of anything. It is probably a good lesson for both of them on how to be more resourceful. 

A lot of responses here are the reason landlords get such a bad rap. Basic ability to use the kitchen should be assumed in the rent. As a landlord you have to provide it. Asking the tenant to use hot plates or microwaves or toasters is ridiculous. Unless appliances are not provided as part of the rental, you need to do what it takes to replace the broken oven/stove in a few days at most. There are PEOPLE living in your properties. PEOPLE that pay hard earned money so you can make a profit. I am really disgusted by the attitude of some of the landlords here.

I love the spectrum of answers here!  Thank you all for taking time to respond.  @Mike Cumbie my buddy isn't looking to cash out on this experience and isn't playing a victim. He is genuinely asking what is the best response.  He didn't go out and buy a replacement on his own due to being told the issue would resolved but the delays kept coming. Also, there really is a shortage on supply, so he understands that the "dirty landlord" couldn't replace it as quickly as they hoped.  He was able to have a conversation with the landlord and they were kind enough to credit the rent by 10%, which he thought was fair.  

I have to agree at least in part with @Anish Tolia and some others, although not as strongly maybe.  

I am a newbie so maybe I just haven't learned yet but if my tenant had a non-working stove I would be trying to at least get them a reasonable replacement.  Stove won't be delivered for 40 days? find a working one on craigslist or FB Marketplace for $200-$300 for the time being.  It sucks spending that extra money but far better than crediting them back even $50 a day for 40 days.  As a landlord there is an obligation to make sure tenants are living in a clean, safe environment and have use of the space that they are paying for.  I would argue that use of a stove is pretty essential to the space they are paying for, especially if it is included in the lease.  Paying rent is paying for a SERVICE.  I try my best to provide a quality service that people will be willing to keep paying for.  Also you may find that you will keep tenants longer and have them be more willing to pay in a hard time like this.

At the height of the lockdowns in April I had tenants tell me the freezer was on the fritz and ruined a bunch of food they had been stocking up and that they could not afford to replace all of it.  I DID tell them to contact renter's insurance about that and told them that if it had been acting up before (they said it had been) that they need to tell me in a timely manner before it ruins things.  I made it clear I was not liable.  However, I immediately bought a new fridge (it was older than I thought).  The company would not bring it inside and install it because of Covid.  So I drove there, unboxed it, brought it in the house and plugged it in, which is actually more effort than I thought it would be.  I also brought them about $100 worth of frozen food to at least start refilling it.  Did I have to? no.  But did I know if they were having financial hardships? Was it worth it to keep good paying tenants happy? Yes. I have hardly heard from them in months and they rent is always on time.  I'm not trying to pat myself of the back I'm just trying to point out that in my limited experience providing a superior service is going to keep the good tenants longer.  One month's missed rent is a lot more than putting in some reasonable effort to keep tenants happy.  

Of course all of this is a bit harder if its landlording from a distance.

@Nicholas Bolcon I agree with you as well.  In the end, it all comes down to communication between the tenant and landlord.  Thankfully, my tenant has been respectful and understanding and it has been reciprocating on the end of the landlord as well.  Everyone needs to work together and have patience at a time like this.  

"those poor people!" ... still cracks me up.  

@Gary Wallace

Oh brother. LL is passing his own problem on to the tenant, as many LLs sadly love to do. Ten days maximum to get a working range in any rental, especially a $3200/month rental. The LL is very clearly negligent in his duty here. I have had similar issues myself during COVID. I actually took the washing machine out of my own house and gave it to my tenant. The LL does not have the right to pass the buck like that.

The tenant, on the other hand, is being a piece of work here. The idea that nothing can be cooked in a kitchen without a range and everything has to be ordered out is total baloney. There is no such thing as an American who cooks using a set of burners and conventional oven regularly and yet is wholly ignorant of the uses of toaster ovens, tabletop convection ovens, digital pressure cookers, slow cookers, hot plates, induction burners, etc.

So everyone has to put their big boy pants on and agree to fix this together. The LL has to shift his shiftless butt a bit and get a range in place. The tenant has to admit that they can make do with alternative cooking means for a limited time. The LL has to come up with a plan to compensate the tenant for undue hardship. The tenant needs to make allowances for the fact that there's a pandemic on.

The fact that neither the tenant not the LL have already done this, 28 days into this, speaks volumes about their shared lack of mental horsepower and/or capacity to deal effectively with hardships. For me, the onus is on the LL. He should have been into his big-boy pants and gotten on the phone to the tenant LONG before this. If you want to manage your properties, manage your properties, if not, pay someone else to do it.