I live in a multifamily home where I rent out the second floor to a tenant. The unit has its own washer/dryer and the utilities are on a shared meter for the whole house. The tenant lives by himself but has his kids over occasionally for the weekend.
My problem is that the tenant seems to be abusing the washer/dryer. He recently started working from home, and it seems like the washer/dryer runs nonstop during waking hours. He is doing at least 10 loads of laundry every single week, which to me seems insane for a single person living by himself. (Also, it isn't just that he's working through a backlog of clothes or something like that, this high usage has been going on for months and months) I believe he has some form of cleanliness OCD, both because of this and because when he moved in initially he made many other requests for things to have extra cleaning, additional painting, or to be replaced.
The utilities bills have been around 30% higher than they were for the prior tenants (which was a couple with a child), but I'm even more concerned about all the additional wear and tear he's putting on the machines. I feel like its only a matter of if, not when, that he breaks down the machines and expects me to replace both of them.
The lease stipulates "reasonable" usage of utilities. But I'd rather not get into a he said/she said argument about how many loads of laundry he's doing and whether that is considered reasonable or not.
Does anyone have any suggestions for how to handle this? I was considering looking at getting a payment system for the washer/dryer like you would have in an apartment complex or laundromat. Does anyone have experience with those and how much they cost to install/maintain?
I have had a similar problem however my lease has a stipulation about any utility usage past a reasonable amount will be looked into and if determined to be unreasonable use by a tennant the difference would be thier responsibility. I understand this is difficult to prove or enforcable but it makes the conversation go smoother. I called a tennant after recieving an abnormally high water bill and she admitted over the phone to filling a pool from a garden hose. Being a reasonable person she did pay me the difference between the current bill and the same quarter the year before. I find if people know an issue like that is being looked at they often straighten out. I might just be lucky though.
@Sam K. Put a Submetering on the washer so you can track water usage. The machine will say how many gallons of water per load. Then you can say they are allowed x number of loads per month and everything above it is extra
Option B swap it out with a coin operated washer and dryer.
Maybe he is laundering money?
I believe you set yourself up for failure by having such a general rule on the lease. Now you are left with a very difficult decision because you can't point to the lease and make the lease the bad guy, you will be the bad guy. I would most definitely change your lease and be as specific as possible so this doesn't happen again in the future. I would then either meter the washer and drier themselves, or get coin operated ones as said previously. I had this problem with some of our duplex's and we now put a limit on when they can wash and how much. After looking at the average reasonable amount of water usage across our portfolio we decided we would only pay 50$ a month for water everything after that is billed to the tenants. You would be amazed how quickly that solved the problem now they aren't creating loads for a pair of pj's, or taking hour long hot showers in the winter. It is going to be difficult but you are just going to have to be straight up that this is a business and you can't afford to be paying for extra water usage that isn't even your doing. Explain that he is more than welcome to wash what he wants, but now after x amount of loads or after x amount of dollars a month he is responsible.
There are all kinds of band aid solutions to the problem all of which do not directly address the problem. Best solution is change your lease at renewal to bill for water or jack his rent to cover the cost (add some to pay to replace washer and dryer when needed). I would opt for the higher rent to simplify my life and If it is too much he will leave. Hopefully you will get a better tenant next time.
If you do noting and he stays 10 years it will cost you a fortune. Act now.
I personally never invest in multi units that are not separately metered due to the consequences of having irresponsible tenants. Look into separate metering for all utilities.
Free eBook from BiggerPockets!
Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!
- Actionable advice for getting started,
- Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
- Learn how to get started with or without money,
- Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
- And a LOT more.
Sign up below to download the eBook for FREE today!
We hate spam just as much as you
Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community
Basic membership is free, forever.