Are your tenants damaging your property?
You aren’t required to provide your tenants with appliances such as refrigerators, microwaves, washing machines, etc. However, if you do decide to include appliances in the lease, you need to realize that you’ll be dealing with more than just your average wear and tear.
Not all tenants understand how to properly care for and use certain appliances. Over time, appliances will need to be repaired and replaced.
The Most Damaged Appliances in Rental Properties
First, let’s take a look at some of the appliances that suffer the most damage from tenants.
The refrigerator is one of the most-used appliances in any rental property. Tenants use it multiple times a day, which means that it is more prone to wear and tear than any other appliance on the property. Here are some ways that tenants can damage your refrigerator:
Overstocking the Fridge
Refrigerators and freezers weren’t designed to be filled to the brim. Packing them with too many things results in poor circulation within the unit. As a result, the cooling fan will have to work twice as hard to keep its contents cool. This burns out the components at a much faster rate.
Not Cleaning the Condenser Coils
Tenants rarely, or never, clean the condenser coils located at the back of the refrigerator. If left uncleaned for too long, the coils will have to use more energy to power up the unit. Ask your tenants to clean the condenser coils at least once a year. Your property manager can also make sure that coil cleaning is done during the rental property’s scheduled maintenance.
If your rental property’s refrigerator has a built-in water dispenser, you will need to make sure that its filters are regularly changed. If the filters aren’t replaced, minerals from the water can build up and damage the entire unit.
A dishwasher seems fairly straightforward to use, but surprisingly, many tenants don’t know how to correctly use a dishwasher. Not all tenants are aware that they should rinse off the dishes, cutlery, and more, before placing them inside the dishwasher.
A lot of tenants also don’t know which type of soap to use. One common mistake is using dish soap in the dishwasher. While dish soap does clean dishes, they are ideal only for manual washing. Using dish soap in the dishwasher could result in having to replace the entire unit.
#3 Washing Machines and Dryers
Replacing your rental property’s washer and dryer can be expensive, which is why it’s essential to avoid tenant negligence as much as possible. Tenants can abuse your rental’s washing machine and dryer units by:
- Forgetting to zip up zippers. This can scratch the interior of the washer and dryer while the clothes are tumbling around.
- Putting too many clothes inside the machine at once. Ideally, you should only fill the washing machine two-thirds of the way.
- Failing to clean the lint trap. A clogged dryer is a fire hazard. Lint that is trapped within the dryer can cause the unit to overheat.
- Leaving freshly washed clothes in the washer. Keeping an area damp for long periods can result in mold growth.
#4 Garbage Disposals
Garbage disposals aren’t shredders. They aren’t designed for certain solids. The garbage disposal should be used only for light food scraps, otherwise, they risk jamming and backing up. Tenants often abuse garbage disposals by throwing in items that shouldn’t be placed inside the garbage disposal including bones, coffee grounds, eggshells, fibrous vegetables, and more.
Can Landlords Make Tenants Pay for Appliance Repairs?
Landlords have the responsibility of maintaining the habitability of their rental properties. Housing codes vary from state to state, but in general, there are minimum health and safety standards that landlords should comply with. This includes:
- Common plumbing issues such as water leaks, broken toilets, etc. have the potential of developing into health hazards. Water damage can result in mold and mildew growth.
- Electrical Systems. Faulty wiring can cause a fire. It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that there are no fire hazards within the home.
- Heating Systems. A broken heater is a fire hazard. This is why it is important to subject the rental property’s heating systems to regular maintenance.
Issues that are health and safety hazards are the responsibility of the landlord. Also, landlords are obligated to repair and replace damaged appliances if this is included in the lease agreement. If the lease agreement states that the landlords should cover the cost of repairs for existing appliances, then that should be followed.
This is why it’s important to fully document which appliances are included upon move-in. Appliances that the tenant adds to the property are no longer the landlord’s responsibility.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
To prevent tenants from demanding that you should pay for appliance repairs, you need to include in your lease agreement that the responsibility is on them. In other words, should a tenant misuse or damage any appliance, they should cover the entire expense for repairing or replacing the item.
However, you should also differentiate damage from wear and tear. For instance, if a tenant breaks a microwave after putting aluminum foil inside of it, the responsibility should be on the tenant. This is because the appliance was damaged due to negligence. On the other hand, if the microwave stops working simply because of age, then the landlord should be able to cover its replacement.
Some landlords also include in their lease agreement that unreported issues with appliances, such as a leaking dishwasher or overheating heater, which can result in health and safety hazards, are the responsibility of the tenant. In other words, should serious problems occur due to these unreported problems, the landlord cannot be liable.
Ultimately, who pays for appliance repairs depends on the lease agreement. Working with a property management firm can help you make sure that these terms are clearly laid out in the contract.
To make sure that your rental property’s appliances are used correctly, Luxury Property Care can educate tenants on their use and care. Our property managers perform scheduled property inspections, which include checking each appliance, to determine which ones need repairs or replacements.