Is the Landlord Responsible for Appliance Repairs
Whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for the repairs of appliances in a rental property is not as cut and dry as it may seem.
In fact, it is dependent upon the laws in your particular state.
Most states do not put the burden on a landlord to provide a tenant with major appliances, including refrigerators and ovens.
This doesn’t mean, however, it is a good practice for you to not place appliances in your rental property, or to provide the appliances and not in turn fix them.
it’s a matter of the old Can vs Should.
What is Required to Be Placed in a Rental Property
As stated above, most states don’t require you to place certain appliances in a rental property to meet the threshold of what is a habitable property.
Having said that, there are some things that must be in place, and in working order, to meet the baseline level of what is habitable for a tenant.
- Working Plumbing System
Even if the Landlord Included the Appliances in the Rental, the Tenant Can Still Be Responsible
Even a landlord places appliances in the rental property, the landlord can still contract around the responsibility for repairs.
Similar to how we recommend you have tenants pay taxes on your rental property, as well as other expenses, you can pass on the cost for repairs to your tenant.
In your lease agreement, you can identify which appliances the tenant is responsible for.
Further, we recommend that you also include language that the tenant use a licensed and insured service provider to conduct the repairs on the appliances.
This way, you can ensure that no additional damage is done.
Is it a Good Idea to Have Tenants Responsible for the Repair of Appliances?
We don’t think it is a good idea to have the tenant responsible for appliance repair.
There are a 4 issues with this, that are readily apparent.
Reason 1: Reasonable Expectations of a Tenant to Fix Broken Appliances and Decreased Rental Value
Despite the law may say, or your lease agreement, I think we can all agree that a tenant has a certain reasonable expectation that you the landlord will fix broken appliances.
In fact, it is safe to assume that the vast majority of rental property investors do repair appliances they have left in the rental unit.
It just makes the most sense.
When you deviate from this standard practice, what you end up with is a tenant who may be upset when the time comes to repair the broken appliance.
Additionally, you are likely experience tenants who don’t want to rent from you because you aren’t supplying maintenance they believe is relevant.
Not maintaining your appliances is a quick way to reduce the potential rental income you can receive, the pool of renters, and decrease your potential profits.
Reason 2: The Tenant Attempts to Perform Their Own Repairs
If you don’t think a tenant is going to first try to repair the appliances themselves, you are in for a big surprise.
When faced with the option of not coming out of pocket for repairs, or looking for a YouTube video to show them how, you can best believe a tenant will go with the cheapest route.
This is compounded when you consider that the tenant may be more willing to do the appliance repairs themselves when the property does not belong to them.
Is this a risk you are willing to take?
Not only are you assuming the possibility the tenant will do something drastically wrong and damage your property, you also must consider that a subsequent tenant will be responsible for correcting the mistake.
A mistake that could have been avoided.
Reason 3: Tenant Finds the Cheapest Person to Repair the Broken Appliance
About as bad as the tenant doing the work themselves, is the tenant who looks for the cheapest alternative to get the job done.
Again, when faced with an out of pocket expense for something they don’t think they should be responsible for, a tenant is going to choose the cheapest route.
As we know, the cheapest route isn’t always better, and could end up equally as disastrous as a tenant who tries to repair the appliance on their own.
Reason 4: The Landlord Can’t Charge to the Security Deposit When Tenant Is Responsible for Repairs
What happens when the tenant conducts a faulty repair, or someone the tenant hired conducts a faulty repair?
If you think you will be able to recover based upon the security deposit, you may have another thing coming to you.
First, you left it up to the tenant. You didn’t tell them the exact manner in which you wanted it done (which would lead to an overly burdensome lease agreement.
Second, even if you told the tenant to use a qualified repairman, they may have, in their judgment, done exactly what you told them.
Third, what if the tenant doesn’t repair the appliance? You still have a responsibility to at least repair it prior to the next tenant coming in.
Last, you have a complicated route for a recourse against a repairman. Technically, the repairman was working on behalf of the tenant, not you as the property owner. In such light, the tenant was the repairman’s client, so there is no contractual relationship with you for any damages.
Whether you decide you want to handle repairs, or pass them on to the tenant is a matter of state law and personal preference.
In our opinion, the best course of action is for you to assume the cost of repairs, and account for them in your monthly rental amount, especially if the appliances are out of the warranty window.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
We are here to help.
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As always, information on this website is not intended to constitute legal advice, or the retention of our property management services, and is for general information purposes only.
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