Tenant installed their own washer/dryer...what can I do?

31 Replies

Two of my tenants have a washer/dryer installed in their units.

Eventually down the road when I build up capital I would like to put a coin-op in the basement. When this happens how can I have them remove their washer/dryers? Can I just simply turn off the water supple going up to their units?

Any additional thoughts would be helpful!

Did the units have installed washer/dryer hookups? If so, then it's really implied that they were able to do that unless you specifically told them not to. It will be a drain on your water bill though.

Originally posted by @Steve DellaPelle :

Can I just simply turn off the water supple going up to their units?

That would be likely viewed by the courts as constructive eviction, which is illegal in well most places Im aware of.

Russell Brazil, Real Estate Agent in Maryland (#648402), Virginia (#0225219736), District of Columbia (#SP98375353), and Massachusetts (#9​0​5​2​3​4​6)
(301) 893-4635

Forget it.....you’d be changing the game midstream. Most will likely bolt if you disallow washer/dryer in the unit. Find a different idea unless you just want to do it for renters without washer/dryer.

Thanks for the replies everyone...hindsight can be a b****

I am thinking maybe it is something that can be negotiated once the lease is up...either an increase in rent to help with the water bill payments or same rent in exchange for washer/dryer hookups to be removed.

Just non renew at the end of their lease and start out fresh with new tenants. No point in trying to fix the situation as no matter what you do you will have unhappy tenants.

Best solution is new tenants. Clear the slate.

@Kim Meredith Hampton What is the process of adding in sub meters? This is definitely something I am interested in if it is not too expensive...however I saw a few threads that scared me out of it lol

It's not just water cost,, it's hot water so gas to heat it and either gas or electric also for the dryer use.

I would contact them and state that the appliances included with the rental were the only ones intended for use.. that they have installed the washer / dryer ( is it vented properly??) and that the utility usage has escalated.. that you would like an additional like $25.00 per month if they continue to use the washer and dryer as they had not informed you prior to installing them... as far as hook up for the appliances I doubt you had a dryer vent just hanging there.. so this was not a approved addition. Inspect and make sure the dryer is vented properly. 

Just handle politely they will more than likely just pay the extra with no issues. 

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@Deanna McCormick I am really new to a lot of this (only 24 years old)...if I'm unsure how a dryer should be properly vented, who can I call to inspect it for me?

Thanks,
Steve

@Steve DellaPelle the washer / dryer hook ups add to the value of your property just like you paying the water adds value. Tenants would rather have in-unit laundry than having coin op in the basement. I question whether you will make more money by charging for laundry, because it reduces the rent value of the unit. Plus who is to say they don't just go to a laundry mat. You are better to increase rents to account for the water and convenience of in-unit laundry. 

@Joe Splitrock Thanks! I am thinking that it is a good idea to allow the washer/dryers in the units but to adjust rent accordingly when signing the lease.

I do however also like the idea of getting the water sub-metered as they already pay for their own electric and gas.

This is a 4-unit.

Originally posted by @Steve DellaPelle :

@Joe Splitrock Thanks! I am thinking that it is a good idea to allow the washer/dryers in the units but to adjust rent accordingly when signing the lease.

I do however also like the idea of getting the water sub-metered as they already pay for their own electric and gas.

This is a 4-unit.

 I think that is a good strategy.

So there are hook ups and you're complaining they used them? I wish all my units had hook ups. You definitely get more rent, a better quality tenant and your property will be worth slightly more than those that don't. I have a triple decker in MA with hook ups and have had a plumber over there to see if there was any way to put them in (there wasn't). We even thought about trying to do something down in the basement, but the building is so old it just wasn't possible to do anything that made financial sense.

Rental properties have a higher standard for dryer venting,, most city inspectors will require you to have smooth sheet metal duct, not any of the accordion type dryer vent hoses made of plastic or flexi metal.. and must be vented outside..

I'd call city talk to inspection department and find out the regulations.. as your currently "thinking" about adding a dryer... honestly we had a huge issue with trying to install a washer and dryer in a 4 plex,, the city inspector would not permit use because we didn't have a egress window in the basement for an additional way to exit,, code required 2 exits out of basement to have a washer or dryer for use.. basically the basement was off limits. because of no 2nd point of exit we couldn't even let tenant's down there so we had to lock it off. 

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I will not hesitate to encourage or endorse their practice. 

They can  compete with you also charge neighbors using their machines.  

Let me offer a different perspective.

Companies of all sizes go to great lengths to collect market data.  What do customers want?

Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people in this country are employed in the search for, "market signals."

What you have here is two separate tenants, at their own expense, installing washers and dryers.

That is a pretty damn strong market signal that units of the sort they are renting should include a washer and dryer.

Install a coin-op in a place where the market is signaling a demand for in-unit washer/dryers, and you are deliberately bringing your property down-market.

That is not the direction most landlords typically want to move.

I think the first question is how they "installed" a washer and dryer.

Was there a washer/dryer connection already in the unit? Are the connections already in all the units or just that one? If there were no connections then its real easy how you deal with it. You go in there and remove the connections. 

Tenants do not have a right to do plumbing or hvac (ventilation requires licensed hvac guy). And if they did that stuff without a permit which I'm assuming they did, then it isn't legal anyway.

Now if you have connections, then I'd leave them and be happy they're using them. Like one of the other posters said, it'll help you get more rent so be happy. If its a water bill issue then when the lease is up, raise the rent to cover it. They'll be less likely to leave given that they have a washer dryer now and most apts probably don't have connections.

Don't worry about it. Install your coin ops. As new tenants move in fewer will get washer/dryers and more will use your coin ops. Our units have w/d hook ups but the majority of our tenants now use our coin ops and their laundry alcove as storage.

Thanks again everyone...

I had no idea that washer/dryer hookups were so valuable. I was always under the impression that coin-op in the basement was the way to go to save me money in the water bill. This is a 4-unit building and I know that the bottom 2 units have an actual connection for washers/dryers...as stated above I am going to continue to allow the use of them and just adjust rent when the time comes.

As for how they had it hooked up...I will need to check it out because they brought their own appliances and had it connected...I didn't know there was a right/wrong way to do it! Time to look more into this!

Thanks again!

To that point...if I needed work to be done on the dryer ventilation (which they already installed)...I would not be liable for the bill right? My lease states that I am only liable for appliances that I provided...so any maintenance or installation costs would be their responsibility?

Sorry for the 3rd follow-up but I just found out that they do not have this properly ventilated...

How can I enforce that they get this properly installed? Is this breaking the lease if they continue to operate it illegally?

Most likely yes, and it's a fire hazard. If you like and want to keep the tenants, you need to have the connections properly installed in the property (and vents), otherwise they may be in violation of the lease agreement (likely, if your lease is strong) and subject to eviction. READ YOUR LEASE, KNOW YOUR LEASE, MANAGE PER THE LEASE. Good habit to learn early...

If you agree to install vents/connectors, inform the tenants that the rental rates for these units didn't account for water usage from in-unit laundry, and that now that they are using the washer on your water supply, you're going to have to adjust the rent accordingly or start billing water seperately.

Seperate metering shouldn't be too expensive, $300 a unit or so. Shop around, start with the utility that supplies the water.

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