How Often Do Landlords Have to Replace Appliances?

Who's responsible for that malfunctioning dishwasher or broken refrigerator in your rental property? This article explores appliance responsibility in rental units and the roles of both tenants and landlords.

By
Nichole Stohler
|
Last Updated
April 2, 2024
How Often Do Landlords Have to Replace Appliances?

When you move into a rental property, you might find that some of the provided appliances, like the refrigerator, are old and showing signs of wear. As a tenant, you may wonder who is responsible for maintaining or replacing these appliances. Do you need to call your landlord every time an issue arises?

This article explains tenants' and landlords' responsibilities when it comes to appliances in rental properties. We'll cover the types of appliances typically included in rental units and discuss who is responsible for their upkeep.

If you're renting, you'll learn all about what you're entitled to and what you're expected to do regarding the appliances in your place. And if you're a landlord, you'll pick up some handy tips on how to handle repairs, make things run smoother, and make sure your rental stays in tip-top shape.

Which appliances are typically included in a rental property?

When you're renting a place, it's natural to ask, "What counts as an appliance here? Is that coffee maker on the counter included? What about the washer/dryer?" The short answer is that it varies from place to place, but you'll find the specifics in your rental agreement. To give you a general idea, here's a list of items typically classified as appliances in rentals:

  • Stove
  • Refrigerator
  • Dishwasher
  • Clothes washer
  • Microwave

Who supplies appliances in rental properties?

The responsibility for supplying and maintaining appliances in an apartment can vary depending on several factors, such as the specific terms of the lease, local laws and regulations, and the type of rental property. In some cases, landlords provide all major appliances, while in others, they expect tenants to bring their own.

Most landlords supply large appliances like refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers, especially in apartment complexes or multi-unit properties. However, in some rental homes, such as single-family homes or condos, tenants may have the option, or may even be required, to bring their own appliances.

Tenant responsibilities and protections for appliances

As a tenant, there are certain situations where you may be responsible for appliance repair. Let's explore a couple of common scenarios:

  • Tenant-owned appliances: Appliances you bring into the rental, like washers or microwaves, are typically your responsibility as a tenant.
  • Minor maintenance tasks: Some leases require tenants to perform minor maintenance, such as changing HVAC filters or making sure the property is clean to prevent appliance issues.
  • Handling damages: If you damage appliances provided by the landlord through negligence or misuse, such as breaking the microwave door or causing an oven fire, the landlord might hold you accountable. Typically, your lease agreement outlines how damages are addressed, often involving the security deposit. This deposit can cover repair or replacement costs for damages beyond normal wear and tear.
  • Security deposits and repairs: The security deposit serves as a safeguard for the landlord against damage, including appliances. Make sure to understand the lease terms regarding what constitutes excessive damage versus normal wear, which can prevent disputes over the security deposit when your tenancy ends.

What to do if your landlord won't repair appliances

If an appliance breaks, promptly inform your landlord or property manager via the communication channels outlined in your lease. But, what do you do if your landlord fails to replace or repair a broken appliance?

Here are the steps you can take:

  1. Review your lease agreement: Double-check your lease to confirm that the landlord is responsible for the appliance in question and that you've followed the proper procedures for requesting repairs.
  2. Send a written request: If you've verbally notified your landlord, follow up with a written notice for repairs. Keep a copy of the request for your records.
  3. Consider legal action: If your landlord continues to ignore your requests and the appliance issue is affecting your health, safety, or the habitability of your apartment, you may need to consider legal action. Consult with a local tenants' rights organization or attorney to discuss your options, such as rent withholding or repair and deduct.
  4. Contact local authorities: If the appliance issue violates local building or health codes, you can contact your local code enforcement agency or health department to report the problem. They may inspect the property and issue citations or fines to the landlord, compelling them to make the necessary repairs.

When appliances are the landlord's responsibility

When is a landlord responsible for providing and maintaining appliances in a rental property? Typical scenarios include:

Implied warranty of habitability

The implied warranty of habitability is a legal principle that requires landlords to maintain their properties in a livable condition for tenants. This means the property must be safe, healthy, and in compliance with building and housing codes. If an appliance isn't working and it creates a habitability issue, your landlord may be responsible for replacement.

The warranty of habitability covers the following key services and facilities:

  • Functional door and window locks.
  • Proper plumbing and gas facilities.
  • Access to hot and cold running water.
  • Reliable electrical systems.
  • Sanitary buildings and grounds free from pests.
  • Working heating systems.
  • A structurally sound building that meets current codes.

In some cases, major appliances like refrigerators or ovens could be considered essential for maintaining a habitable living condition.

Appliances in the rental agreement

If the landlord chooses to provide appliances like an oven or dishwasher as part of the rental unit, they become responsible for maintaining and repairing those appliances. By including specific appliances as part of the property, the landlord takes on the obligation to keep those appliances in proper working condition during the tenant's stay, except in cases of excessive tenant damage.

How landlords can maintain appliances in rental properties

Providing appliances can help your property stand out in the rental market. For landlords who decide to provide these amenities to their tenants, here are some tips to help you maintain them:

Keep an inventory of appliances

One of the most important things you can do as a landlord is to keep a detailed inventory of the appliances in your rental properties. This inventory will serve as a valuable reference, helping you stay on top of repairs and when you're due for new appliances.

Create a list that includes the following information for each appliance:

  • The specific property, including the name, address, and unit number.
  • A description of each appliance in the rental unit.
  • The date you purchased the appliance.
  • Any warranty information, including the duration and terms of coverage.
  • The appliance's model number and serial number for easy reference.
  • A schedule for regular inspection and repair.

Appliance repair and your rental maintenance checklist

Many landlords already have a checklist to help keep your rental properties in top shape. This checklist is a great tool for staying on top of preventative upkeep and catching small issues before they turn into big problems.

By making appliance care a part of your routine, you'll be able to spot potential issues early on and address them before they lead to costly breakdowns or the need for premature replacements. Regular upkeep can also help extend the life of your appliances, saving you money in the long run.

How often should a landlord replace appliances?

Even with regular maintenance and timely repairs, appliances will eventually reach the end of their useful life and require replacement. It's good to have a general idea of how often you should expect to replace major appliances in your rental properties.

While the lifespan of appliances can vary depending on factors like brand, model, and usage, here's a general guideline for when you should plan on replacing common household appliances:

  • Refrigerators: 10-15 years.
  • Ranges and ovens: 10-15 years.
  • Dishwashers: 7-10 years.
  • Washing machines: 8-12 years.
  • Dryers: 8-12 years.
  • Microwave ovens: 5-10 years.

Keep in mind that these are just average lifespans, and your appliances may last longer or shorter depending on various factors. To help maximize the life of your appliances, be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations and address any issues promptly.

Create an appliance repair lease addendum

To verify that both you and your tenants are on the same page when it comes to who is responsible for appliances, consider creating a lease addendum that specifically addresses this. Key areas to add to your addendum include:

  • A list of the appliances you provide and which ones are the tenant's responsibility to maintain and repair.
  • The process for reporting appliance issues, including how tenants should notify you and what information they need to provide.
  • Details about who is responsible for the cost of repairs or the replacement cost, including any deductibles or fees that tenants may be required to pay.
  • Include information that distinguishes normal wear and tear from tenant-caused damage and explain how to handle each situation.
  • Specify any tasks tenants must perform, such as cleaning dryer lint filters or regularly cleaning the dishwasher.

Getting to the bottom of landlord appliance responsibilities

Tenants should refer to their lease agreement to determine which appliances are the responsibility of the landlord and what their maintenance obligations are. In most cases, landlords are responsible for repairing or replacing malfunctioning appliances they have supplied, as required by the implied warranty of habitability and the lease agreement.

Landlords can proactively manage appliances in their rental properties by keeping a detailed inventory, including appliance upkeep in their regular property management checklist, and having a plan for timely replacements when necessary. Creating a lease addendum specifically addressing appliance repairs can help clarify expectations and responsibilities for both parties.

By clearly defining responsibilities and establishing effective communication channels, tenants and landlords can work together to make sure that rental property appliances are properly maintained, repaired, and replaced as needed.

What appliances is a landlord required to maintain by law? FAQs

What appliances are landlords required to provide in California?

California law does not require landlords to provide any specific appliances in a rental unit. However, if the landlord provides appliances, they must be in working order.

Does a landlord have to provide a refrigerator in NY?

No, landlords in New York are not legally required to provide a refrigerator.

Who is responsible for appliances in a rental property in Florida?

In Florida, if the rental agreement includes appliances, the landlord must maintain and repair them.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

Rental rundown background image
Rental rundown hero image

Whether you’re a property owner, renter, property manager, or real estate agent, gain valuable insights, advice, and updates by joining our blog.

Subscriber Identity

I am a

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.