Should my tenant buy their own fridge?

56 Replies

I’m 26 and have very little life, let alone real estate experience but I was able to buy my first single family home with my dad going in 25% in Southern California’s high desert.

My dad owns one other home up there and has told me we can have our tenants get their own fridge. This was pretty alarming to me as I’ve always rented from places that have fridges.

Is this normal? My instinct is to tell me dad no and just buy the cheapest aesthetically good looking fridge I can.

@Jacquelyn First , I've heard some landlords not provide refrigerators, washers, or dryers.

I understand not providing washers and dryers. Those are hard working appliances with many moving parts and seem to be more prone to breaking down.

I do not understand not providing a refrigerator. Sometimes a kitchen is only suited to a refrigerator of a certain size. Why would tenants want to own appliances and have to haul them around. Most homeowners buy the appliances with the home their purchase, why wouldn't a renter want to get a rental with appliances included.

As with most anything, I would first look at other rental listings in that area and determine was is "common" in your area. Then I would decide what aspects of my rental I want to be average/common and which areas I want to be BETTER!

I always want some areas where my rentals are better than comparable units. The house I'm rehabbing to rent now will have all appliances included (washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, and microwave hood). The kitchen appliances will be brand new stainless steel. I expect to attract a good tenant who will hopefully want to stay a good while. If you don't provide a desirable product, why would a good tenant choose to stay?!? Vacancy costs are killers.

I've heard of some rental markets where the tenants usually bring their own fridge but I've never actually been in one. I would research the competing rentals to see what the competition offers. If they offer fridges you should as well. 

It depends on what the norm is in your area.  Where I am all appliances are provided by the landlord.  I do have one unit where the tenant wanted to use their own washer and drier.  That was fine, but a pain as we had to store the current ones.

@Matt M. , VERY interesting. You are only about 1 hour from me and where I am I can't remember the last time I saw a rental that didn't include a refrigerator!

In my area, the fridge is provided by the landlord, along with an oven and sometimes a mounted microwave.  

It does depend on your local region but most areas seem to include the fridge.  In my mind, at a high price point, the tenant isn't going to want to be bothered and at a low price point, they won't be able to afford a fridge.  Part of renting is not having to worry about that stuff!

@Kevin Sobilo

I think it’s starting to become more popular to include, but in my experience if a tenant leaves one and it’s decent, we offer it to the next guy but if it breaks they’re on their own. We have also had to remove them because tenants have their own. And we’ve never experienced losing a possible good tenant because we didn’t include. Definitely more popular in apartments, but we do single family houses. 

In your lease you can add: A refrigerator is provided but maintenance and repair is the responsibility of the tenant.

I've done this in the past and it works well. 

@Matt M. , I have single family homes as rentals and would never consider not including appliances. I've just not seen it here at all whether a single family or an apartment.

Of course, you can't know how many good tenants you missed out on. That would be fairly impossible to know.

In my area the appliances which are often not included are washer and dryer. I include them, but a good many rentals do not in my area. Its a good "point of difference" for my rentals. Oh also, dishwashers as well, which I do include on my nicer rentals. 

@Kevin Sobilo

Same with W/D.. if a tenant leaves one. When I do my rehabs, I will do a dishwasher if the kitchen allows. 
I can’t tell you how many fridges I’ve had to toss or clean when I do turnovers for my clients. No way.. bring your own, don’t clean it, I don’t care. 
nowadays appliances are garbage. I’m not interested in spending $7-800 on new fridges every few years. 

The investors that I work with always provide the refrigerator.  The damage to trim and floors is a risk you take by having a tenant move it in themselves.  Also, if you install it, you can choose to use the water line and have it hooked up correctly.  Water damage because of a leaking line is never fun.

@Matt M. , on my nicer units where I buy brand new kitchen appliances my tenants seem to never want to leave. I've not yet replaced an appliance I bought new either.

On my more average rentals, yes tenants do leave fridges messy and I typically buy used appliances for those. They are easy to clean though and I can deduct from their deposit accordingly. Really not an issue I would ever complain about. 

@Kevin Sobilo

I hear you, I’ve just never had the need to provide one. I would if I had to though.

I’m in the process of doing my own kitchen.. 3 fridges in a month because the freezer would crack within hours or days. Imagine if I had to deal with that in a rental. Yeah no way. 

The only markets where fridges are less common seem to be lower class rentals and more cash flow markets. I assume that is because tenants damage them more frequently. 

A refrigerator is expected in my market and they should last 20 years, maybe less with newer ones as things have gotten cheaper. 

@Karl B. for your clause that says you don't fix the refrigerator, how do tenants respond when it actually breaks? Do you make them buy a new one for you? I think most of my tenants would say, "are you F-ing kidding me" if I told them they needed to fix or replace the fridge, haha.

Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock :

The only markets where fridges are less common seem to be lower class rentals and more cash flow markets. I assume that is because tenants damage them more frequently. 

A refrigerator is expected in my market and they should last 20 years, maybe less with newer ones as things have gotten cheaper. 

@Karl B. for your clause that says you don't fix the refrigerator, how do tenants respond when it actually breaks? Do you make them buy a new one for you? I think most of my tenants would say, "are you F-ing kidding me" if I told them they needed to fix or replace the fridge, haha.

 Most have it fixed (only a few of the fridges have gone bad - most are super old which means they tend to not have preplanned obsolescence built in like the newer fridges do). 

I had one Section 8 tenant who (without me knowing) got rid of the fridge and bought a used one (a piece of junk). When I evicted her she mentioned picking up the fridge at a later date and that's when I learned she threw out the old one. And so I told her I was keeping the one that was there, which I did. 

It was a total piece of crap (the old one wasn't new but it would have been nice to have not had it thrown out) and I have the one she bought in my warehouse (I can likely sell it for $75-$100 - the next time I'm home I have some old appliances to sell - one's a 1950s stove that some hipster will likely want). 

I bought a new fridge for the current tenant at that property - I get good rent from them and after they signed the lease I decided to upgrade the fridge prior to them moving in.

In my market pretty much all rentals have a fridge. The last time I rented, in Fox Hills (Southern Culver City, CA) the landlord told us tenants are responsible for their own fridge as she claimed a fridge is dirty. It also helped the building had an elevator! The neighborhood and property were great and rent was reasonable and so my roommates and I all chipped in for a fridge without much grumbling. 

Originally posted by @Karl B. :
Originally posted by @Joe Splitrock:

The only markets where fridges are less common seem to be lower class rentals and more cash flow markets. I assume that is because tenants damage them more frequently. 

A refrigerator is expected in my market and they should last 20 years, maybe less with newer ones as things have gotten cheaper. 

@Karl B. for your clause that says you don't fix the refrigerator, how do tenants respond when it actually breaks? Do you make them buy a new one for you? I think most of my tenants would say, "are you F-ing kidding me" if I told them they needed to fix or replace the fridge, haha.

 Most have it fixed (only a few of the fridges have gone bad - most are super old which means they tend to not have preplanned obsolescence built in like the newer fridges do). 

I had one Section 8 tenant who (without me knowing) got rid of the fridge and bought a used one (a piece of junk). When I evicted her she mentioned picking up the fridge at a later date and that's when I learned she threw out the old one. And so I told her I was keeping the one that was there, which I did. 

It was a total piece of crap (the old one wasn't new but it would have been nice to have not had it thrown out) and I have the one she bought in my warehouse (I can likely sell it for $75-$100 - the next time I'm home I have some old appliances to sell - one's a 1950s stove that some hipster will likely want). 

I bought a new fridge for the current tenant at that property - I get good rent from them and after they signed the lease I decided to upgrade the fridge prior to them moving in.

In my market pretty much all rentals have a fridge. The last time I rented, in Fox Hills (Southern Culver City, CA) the landlord told us tenants are responsible for their own fridge as she claimed a fridge is dirty. It also helped the building had an elevator! The neighborhood and property were great and rent was reasonable and so my roommates and I all chipped in for a fridge without much grumbling. 

 I figured they didn't need replacement that often. I have only really had one fridge need repair because it broke. Many have been replaced for cosmetic reasons. Our properties are B or A class, so we upgrade from old white or tan to black or stainless. 

The mechanical appliances like washer, dryer or dishwasher are where most of the failures seem to occur. We don't provide washer or dryer for that reason. 

Where I am fridges are usually included.  I'm in b+ rentals where current rents are 1750+ so I think that makes a difference.  I don't include washer/dryers due to the risk of possible abuse which is fairly common. Every once in a while a unit will show up that doesn't have a fridge but they are usually either on the market much longer or at a discount.  I also include a microwave only if built into the cabinets, if not the tenant needs to provide their own.  Sure I have had to clean out fridges, stoves, and microwaves on turnover but it is a small price to pay and on the last one I just hired a maid service and took it out of the deposit.  If it is usual in your market then maybe go for it, but I would encourage you as others have said to be slightly above average to reduce turnover. When I see the ones in my market I have to question why, can the landlord not afford one with no reserves or are they just generally slummy.  

There is no right or wrong answer to this. It might even be area specific. I personally find it odd that someone who is renting a place would want to own their own fridge and move it from rental to rental, but some do. I provide them. Most people in SoCal seem to expect them. 

I have had tenants that had their own. I just make it clear, if I don't provide the appliance when you move in because you had your own, at no point in the future will I put one in the unit. 

Hi Jacquelyn!

I have heard of some rental markets requiring tenants to being their own appliances. In most cases it has only been washers and driers that the tenants needed to bring. With the 250+ properties that we manage, including my own properties, all of the appliances are included. I believe it creates a piece of mind knowing what exactly is in the property and I can ensure they are properly maintained. It is also a good selling point for perspective applicants. I also would not go with "cheap" products. They will just create more hassle for you in the long run. It's best to spend a little bit more for the higher quality products (GE, Frigidaire, LG, Maytag) but it does not need all of the fancy accessories.

@Jacquelyn First - you're in a competition against the other local property investors. You want the best tenants- they do too. Not only should you get a fridge, but get a stainless steel one. I've seen my competition and their apartments with those cheap white fridges. They look cheap, and prospective tenants see that too. For another couple hundred bucks, your kitchen can look better. Ditto with ovens. My kitchens cost several hundred dollars more than my competitors' do, and as a result, prospects prefer my apartments.

Isn't it worth a few hundred dollars to be able to choose your tenants, rather than having them choose you?

My philosophy & experience: If below or mid-market rent is your goal, let the tenants buy their own appliances (other than stove/oven). The less they call you with problems, the less you mess with their rent. Win-win. The number one tenant issue I have had is with washers/dryers thus I try to avoid providing them, but when I do, I write into the lease that these appliances are provided "for convenience only" and all repairs to the machine should be made known to the landlord but are on the tenant's dime to repair or replace back to the working condition it was in upon move-in. My properties are all in California. The appliance clause in the lease specifically says the following (feel free to use it): "The Property is rented with the following appliances: Stove/Oven and Microwave. Appliances listed above are in good working order at the commencement of this Agreement. Tenant(s) will be responsible for any required repair or replacement of appliances which are not the result of normal wear and tear. The above rental payment specifically EXCLUDES any appliances other than the ones noted above. Any other appliances located on or in the Property, including the clothing Washer and Dryer, are solely at the convenience of the Landlord, who assumes no responsibility for their operation. Landlord agrees to remove appliances not included in the Rent at the request of Tenant(s). Any of the Landlord's personal Property remaining on the Premises may be used by the Tenant(s), however the Tenant(s) assumes sole responsibility to keep said personal Property in working and/or operating condition, and agrees to return or replace said personal Property to the Landlord at the termination of this Agreement in the same or better condition, reasonable wear and tear excepted." That said, I have a few premium properties commanding top 25% (really top 10% rent) for the area and I supply ALL appliances, nice ones at that, in those units. But, I still use the above clause, modified to list the included appliances and I always (ALWAYS) leave washer/dryer "for convenience only" b/c those are always the first to go bad. Good luck!!

@Jacquelyn First If your competition provides fridges justify it to your dad that way.  Most areas do include fridges. If you have a good used source in the area he might like that as a compromise.    Also that was a great point about destroying floors with moving fridges.  Don't get ice makers or if you do let them know you don't repair ice makers. Almost always the "broken" ice maker is a frozen line.