Landlords are required by law to behave a certain way, such as providing notice before entering and delivering written notices for lease violations. They are also required to provide their tenants with a number of things when renting out a property, such as working electricity and plumbing systems.
When it comes to appliances, however, many landlords and tenants are unclear on what is required by law and what is not. This can cause a lot of misunderstanding between the two parties as to what must legally be provided to make a rental property habitable.
First Steps: Understand Warranty Of Habitability
Every state requires that landlords must do everything they can to keep a rental property habitable, a condition known as the implied warranty of habitability. In a nutshell, this means that there is a minimum level of safety and function that a rental property must meet to be considered “habitable.”
Landlords have to do what it takes to keep their investment property habitable at all times. While this standard may vary slightly from state to state, most of the time it includes essentials like:
- Meet all building and safety codes
- Working plumbing
- Sewage system
- Electric system
- Weather resistant (roofs, windows and doors intact)
- Pest free
- Standard safety features that work (door/window locks)
- No obvious hazards or safety issues
Landlords must make every repair or call in specialists to ensure that everything is properly working in order to meet the landlord habitability requirement. Many landlords and tenants are quite surprised to discover that their state’s implied warranty of habitability makes no mention of appliances or that their presence is considered a requirement of habitability.
However, let’s take the state of Colorado as an example. Their property code outlines what property owners are legally required to provide their tenants. For example things like the common functionality of electricity and plumbing, window locks etc. Appliances such as kitchen items are required in the state of Colorado according to a recent article by IPropertyManagement.
Are Landlords Required To Supply Appliances?
The answer to the question of whether landlords must supply appliances is sometimes up in the air. Many landlords aren’t aware that there are state-specific rules when it comes to appliances. In that same article listed above, some states require landlords to provide things such as kitchen and laundry appliances.
Frustrated tenants that are not aware of these laws may feel as if landlords are infringing upon their daily lifestyle because appliances aren’t immediately provided. They may feel put upon or that their landlord is doing something illegal by denying them a microwave, stove, dishwasher dryer and more. To maintain that tenant-landlord relationship, many experience landlords will point their tenants in the direction of state laws in an order to gain an understanding of what is required.
Why Would A Tenant Want To Use Own Appliances?
Put frankly, a tenant that wants to use their own appliances is more to just say that they are their own when they leave the rental. As a landlord, you won’t have to worry about wear and tear on the appliances or even repairs. When a tenant leaves the rental property, the appliances go with them. Landlords that don’t supply them, however, will be limited to renting to those tenants who are willing to purchase or rent what they need as long as they live in the rental property.
Who Is Responsible For Appliances In A Rental?
Referring back to that IPropertyManagement article, there are state-specific laws to make a repair to a rental appliance as well as how long legally a landlord has to make a repair.
Landlords who want to bring in a good amount of applicants, often at a higher rent, will supply some or all appliances in their rentals.
Why Should Landlords Consider Supplying Appliances?
If comparable rental properties in the neighborhood are providing appliances and another landlord is not, applicants will most likely turn to the competition because they see they are getting more for their money.
Landlords can either compromise on the rent, let’s say by lowering it, to try and attract applicants or go ahead and provide appliances. Check out more of our thoughts on providing appliances for a rental:
Even though oftentimes landlords are not required to supply appliances in a rental unit, many do so anyhow as a way to entice more applicants. Typically the tenants that rent often don’t have a lot of furniture and appliances of their own, they usually rely on the landlord to provide things like that so they seek out more furnished apartments.
This is especially applicable in a college student market or for young, single professionals. Applicants that aren’t willing to buy or rent things like refrigerators and dishwashers will automatically pass over any advertised rental properties that don’t come with the desired appliances.
So, what’s one of the main reasons that a landlord would want to furnish a rental? Well, for one thing, you’ll be able to charge a higher price as you’re removing the headache your tenant would have when sourcing appliances.
Top Rental Appliances To Attract Tenants
There are some appliances we recommend you absolutely provide to your tenants. Refrigerators and stoves are the top two appliances necessary for a space to be truly habitable. Extra appliances like dishwashers, washers, and dryers are more… well, luxury-like items so to speak. They are not necessary, but can be a nice offering to your potential renters. Plus, if your competition is providing these items, you might want to consider doing the same to win over future tenants.
Appliances And The Lease Agreement
If a landlord does supply appliances to a rental property, they belong to the landlord and should be maintained just as any other part of the property. This includes repairs and replacements for wear and tear or other major problems. Of course, if the tenant or the tenant’s guests are responsible for any damage, the cost should seem to be covered by them, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Often times in a lease, there are specific clauses that go over the appliances in the rental property. For example, what is provided and specifying who is responsible for repairs? Now, keep in mind, do a thorough inspection of not only your property, but also the appliances that come along with it. For more information on how to do a move-in inspection, check out our recent article.
During the move-in inspection, both the landlord and tenant can compare the condition upon moving out and assess any damages or wear and tear. It’s almost like signing up for a rental car. You know how you typically do a walk-through with the representative before hopping into the vehicle and notate any issues? It’s very much the same thing.
Don’t Forget About Rental Maintenance
Now, keep in mind, with every appliance comes a maintenance plan. Washers or dryers, for instance, depending on usage, may have a tendency to shut down at some point. You should factor additional maintenance into your anticipated expenses and possibly even your lease when providing this kind of appliance to your tenant.
Lease Clauses For Appliances
We think that adding at least two clauses into your lease agreement regarding your appliances. For example:
Clause #1: “Tenant is responsible for tenant-caused damage and neglect.” With this clause, you’ll protect yourself as a landlord from holding responsibility for the maintenance of appliances whenever they are deemed to have been abused or officially neglected by the tenant.
Clause #2: “Renter owner has the option to repair, replace, or remove appliances if they cease to function.” This particular clause gives you more leeway so to speak when it comes to appliances. For example, if you provide a washer that stops functioning out of nowhere, you have the option with this clause to repair it, replace it, or remove it. Obviously, you want to keep your tenants happy and well taken care of. However, this clause protects you from legally being bound to maintain an appliance.
It’s Time To Decide
Will you provide appliances or not? Let’s face it, appliances can be a pain to purchase and maintain, but they are an attractive amenity that many renters may feel are a must before signing a lease agreement.
As a landlord, you need to look at the rental market for a direct comparison amongst competitors of their rental property and the types of tenants they hope to attract and make their own decision of whether or not to supply appliances.
Providing appliances, it’s ultimately a risk if you want to think about it like so; you have no idea how the appliances will function for the tenant or if they will be neglected or properly maintained. Always be sure to make sure your lease agreement clearly outlines anything having to do with the purchase, neglect, or maintenance of the rental appliances.