What appliances should a landlord provide? Every landlord has a different opinion. I tend to be fairly generous. I’ll explain what I provide and why.
First, let me give you a hint: Often you have to spend money to make money, and a fully-stocked house can easily net you $20 additional in rent every month. Assuming a 10-year service life, that means you can afford to spend $700, and $700 buys a lot of used appliances. Also, if a tenant stays an extra year and your house isn’t vacant for a month while you’re getting a new tenant, that’s worth a few hundred dollars alone. Here are some tips on saving money on appliances if you need them.
Second: This isn’t what a landlord is required to provide. It’s what I recommend they provide based on my own experience.
Isn’t providing more a liability?
Providing appliances doesn’t have to be a liability. Get a lawyer to help you, but write a clause in your lease that says what you provide, but that you provide no guarantee they are operable. If they break, yes, you should probably fix them–for a good tenant. But the contract means you can leave a bad tenant on the hook to pay for the repair.
And here’s the other thing: When a tenant is moving in, they’re providing a security deposit and a month’s worth of rent at least, and I recommend collecting the last month’s rent as well. But that means a tenant is going to have a hard time coming up with a couple grand to buy a bunch of appliances.
I’d rather not limit myself to potential renters who own a truck full of appliances. I also use the appliances to justify charging the rent that I do. That said, prospective tenants rarely challenge me on price, and I can’t think of a time that a serious prospect–someone who actually returned an application–ever asked me to come down on the asking price. They might be more inclined to challenge me if I was stingy on what I provide.
Every kitchen is expected to have a range for cooking, and I’ve never had a tenant tell me he or she already had one. This is a given. Provide a very basic, no-frills one because it means less stuff that can break. A basic range can easily last 20 years.
I like GE ranges because I’ve found them to be reliable. I won’t replace a working range just because it’s not a GE, but if I’m buying one, I’ll make it a GE.
Some tenants will have a refrigerator, but I’m not willing to count on it. Most tenants expect you to provide a fridge. Again, I go for a basic, upright, freezer-on-top fridge. If I can find one with an icemaker, that’s fine, but I don’t look for it. A simple, basic fridge can last 20 years too.
It’s amazing how many houses still don’t have a dishwasher. I always install one. Tenants want one, and you can get a basic, featureless dishwasher used for $100 because people are constantly replacing their basic models with trendier ones. Sometimes a kitchen is so small you have to install a smaller 18-inch dishwasher, which costs more, but I still bite the bullet and do it. A good handyman can install either type in half an hour.
A dishwasher is something that gives you leverage when a prospect tries to lowball you. I guarantee some of the houses they’re looking at don’t have one.
A garbage disposal
A lot of houses don’t have a garbage disposal either. I always install a basic, 1/3 HP Insinkerator disposal (or house-brand equivalent) and assume it will need to be replaced in 5-10 years. Swapping 1/3-horse Insinkerators doesn’t take long.
Installing one can save clogged kitchen sinks, which makes up for the hassle of the occasional seized-up disposal. Teach your tenants how to free it up. This is another thing to leverage, as so many houses won’t have one.
My handyman calls the combination of a dishwasher and garbage disposal the “Farquhar Special,” as I’ve had him install so many.
Tenants are much more likely to stay if they’re happy, and lack of a dishwasher and garbage disposal are something they’re going to notice every single day.
A washer and dryer
There’s no point in having a house without a washer and dryer. Some tenants do have their own, but not all do, so I provide a set. Whirlpool is my go-to brand here, because they’re reliable and parts are cheap. Again, go for basic models.
Once you’re providing a disposal, dishwasher, washer and dryer, you’re providing a lot that your competitors won’t.
Yes, lawnmower maintenance is a pain, so nobody wants to provide one. But that means a $100 used lawnmower gives you a tremendous amount of leverage. It seems like 50% of tenants have one, but for the 50% who don’t, you get another selling point.
Stay basic. Find someone near you who fixes and resells mowers and get what you can for $100. Maybe you’ll get a Toro or a Snapper at that price, and maybe you won’t. You’ll bring each mower in to get the carburetor cleaned or rebuilt every couple of years, but there’s a trick to hold that off. With that maintenance, you’ll get a long service life if you do.
Where I draw the line
If the kitchen has a built-in microwave, I leave it. If I were redoing a kitchen I might put one in, but I won’t redo a kitchen just to put in a built-in microwave. I generally don’t provide a standalone microwave. Many tenants will have one, and if they don’t, basic standalone microwaves are cheap.
I also don’t provide small appliances like a toaster or blender. They’re cheap, most tenants have them, and it’s far too easy for those to walk out the door when a tenant leaves.