As a landlord, if you want your rental property to stay occupied you have to keep up with the competition in the market around you. Most rental properties today feature basic appliances, which are included for the tenant at no extra cost. From dishwashers to refrigerators, tenants will likely expect some of the major appliances to already be present when they move in.
Investing in appliances for your rental property can help you to attract better tenants and to keep responsible tenants longer. Get a feel for your local market by checking out what most other rental properties in the area include. Does every other property in the area feature a refrigerator and garbage disposal? If so, not having these amenities could make renting your property more difficult.
However, when you are investing in these appliances, it is important to keep in mind that not all tenants will treat your appliances with the same love and care as you might hope. Your washing machine, for example, might have an ending like the one in the video below.
While the above video might be a bit extreme, do you know which appliances tenants are hardest on? Check out the list below and read on for some tips on how you can protect your appliances from tenant harm.
The Appliances That Take A Beating
When it comes to appliances that suffer from a lot of wear and tear, the top four items to make our list are the following.
#1: Refrigerators With Water / Ice Dispensers
While providing a refrigerator is a must in most rental markets, be aware that when you implement a fridge with a water and ice dispenser, you are more likely to face issues. Automatic ice makers require a copper water line to deliver water to the system. This copper water line can easily leak, crimp, or become unattached. This can lead to flooding and floor damage.
Opt for a simple refrigerator instead. The fewer parts there are to break, the fewer repairs you will face.
Dishwashers are another hot item on the list of appliances tenants are looking for, but also on the list that they are most likely to damage. Most dishwasher damage occurs when the appliance is misused. For example, older dishwashers are often not capable of handling large amounts of food being left on the dishes. The problem arises when tenants ignore any warning about this and load dishes with food that will backup the dishwasher drain over time.
While dishwashers are a nice amenity to offer, not having one can save you a lot of hassle. If you do have a dishwasher make sure you record the condition it was in at the time of move-in and keep up with any required maintenance.
#3: Washers / Dryers
Washers and dryers are another commonly abused appliance. Overloading washers can lead to damage to the parts. Metal objects and coins can cause damage to the inner drum as well. Not to mention, leaving wet clothes in a washer and not removing them quickly after the end of a cycle can cause mold and mildew growth in the washer. The biggest culprit for mold growth are front loading washing machines. In fact, smelly mold with front-loaders has actually resulted in a class-action lawsuit involving 5.6 million Kenmore, Maytag, and Whirlpool washers. Dryers can be damaged over time when tenants do not clean out excess lint after use. The venting for a dryer also needs to be cleaned periodically to prevent a fire risk.
#4: Garbage Disposals
Garbage disposals are notorious for backing up, having their motors burn out, or getting jammed in place. The culprit is usually that items were put down the garbage disposal that never should have been.
Things that do not belong in a garbage disposal include the following:
- Fruit pits
- Coffee grounds
- Corn husks
- Potato peels
Not only can these culprits cause damage to your garbage disposal, the accidental foreign object can also break a disposal. For instance, small shot glasses or silverware can fall into a disposal and go unnoticed. The moment the disposal is turned on, the object can cause the blades to be damaged, the motor to fail, or the system to jam.
Protecting Your Appliances
As you can see from the list above, the appliances that are most likely to break down are not simple or cheap to repair. Does this mean you should do away with all appliances and rent out a property devoid of troublesome items? The answer is probably not. While you might get away with limiting the number of appliances in your rental property in some markets, if the rental market in your area is competitive, you will probably need to have appliances in the unit.
That doesn’t, however, mean that you have to put up with broken down appliances and costly repairs. There are a few things you can do to mitigate the risk of your appliances being abused by tenants.
#1: Screen Your Tenants
This tip is something we harp on a lot here at TurboTenant, but it is because it is one of the easiest, fastest, and most effective ways of preventing damage to your property, evictions, and late rent payments. By screening your tenants, you can weed out applicants who are irresponsible and have a history of issues. Tenants who have strong credit scores, a clean background, and zero evictions on their record are more likely to be a responsible person overall. While there are no guarantees, screening tenants can go a long way in helping.
#2: Talk To References
You should be asking for landlord references during the application process and you should be following up with previous landlords. Talking to a prior landlord can help you catch problematic tenants early on.
#3: Set Up A Maintenance Schedule
If you set up a maintenance schedule for appliances in the home it will help prevent damage for a few reasons. One, you will prevent damage that happens because the appliance wasn’t maintained properly. For example, scheduling a cleaning for the coils of your refrigerator’s condenser can save you from burning the coils out due to the buildup of grime. Maintenance will also provide you with the chance to check up on the appliances and see if they have already been damaged. This will keep your tenants more accountable for their actions and the knowledge that you (or a professional technician) will be coming to inspect the appliances on a schedule will likely inspire them to take better care of the appliances.
#4: Fix Things The Right Way
When damages do occur to your appliances, make sure you repair them in a timely manner and make sure you repair them right. Cutting corners on repairs can wind up causing appliances to fail completely down the road. If a tenant tells you something is broken, attend to it promptly to prevent further damages.