How Long Does A Landlord Have To Replace A Refrigerator?
Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, a broken refrigerator can be a source of confusion and frustration in many cases. For tenants and landlords alike, it can be quite difficult to know when the landlord should replace a refrigerator when the need arises.
Landlords have an average of 22 days to replace a refrigerator, but it varies. Some states and municipalities require landlords to replace a fridge within 14 days. You can report a landlord for neglecting maintenance if they fail to respond within 2 weeks if the fridge is part of your apartment lease.
When the Refrigerator is Part of the Agreement
It is often assumed that the refrigerator should be maintained and repaired by the landlord because it is a part of the house. Most people would view the refrigerator as integral to the functionality of a house as a ceiling fan, garbage disposal, or doorbell.
If that were the case (and it sometimes is), it would mean that the responsibility of replacing a fridge would fall onto the landlord’s lap. Refrigerators are not always considered to be a part of the rental from a legal standpoint, however.
Get it in Writing
For the refrigerator to be included in the list of features of a home that should the landlord is responsible for, it needs to be viewed as part of the agreement (in writing).
In some jurisdictions, however, the law states that anything included in the home at the time tenants moved in is automatically included in the agreement. This is especially true when it comes to safety, wellbeing, and quality of life issues.
Your Location May Dictate
So, how long does a landlord have to replace a refrigerator? The short answer is that it depends on where you live and how the rental agreement was drafted. While it is certainly expected that a working fridge is included in a rental property, it is not always a legal requirement.
What is an Appliance Anyway?
Many laws that state how long a landlord has to replace a refrigerator make the distinction between appliances and household features. Household features include things like plumbing, toilets, sinks, electrical outlets, garbage disposals, and the like.
Appliances, on the other hand, are things like washing machines, clothes dryers, stoves, microwaves, and yes, refrigerators. In many cases, these appliances are included but it not always.
Whether you are a renter or a landlord, the appliances should always be a point of discussion before any agreement is signed. Failure to clear up what is and what is not the responsibility of the landlord can always lead to unnecessary hardship, loss of time and money, and more.
Must Landlords Provide Appliances?
As previously mentioned, many states and cities do not require landlords to provide appliances. From a legal standpoint, appliances are often viewed as added comforts and conveniences that do not impact the habitability of a property.
A rental property must have all of the connection points for appliances, such as drainage pipes and electrical systems. HVAC systems are also considered essential depending on where the property is located. However, the actual appliances are not a must.
That said, you will rarely find rental properties that do not feature some of the appliances that people use on a regular basis. Refrigerators are almost always included in a rental property because many renters do not have their own appliances. Not including some basic appliances makes it harder to compete for tenants.
Habitability as an Issue
Although many jurisdictions do not legally mandate the landlords include basic appliances in rental properties, there are some other laws that pertain to the habitability of a rental property that should be considered.
For example, if the refrigerator needing replacement is causing any risk of danger to the tenant, the landlord must replace it. Laws protecting tenants well-being supersede those protecting the landlord’s property rights in many cases.
While there aren’t very many situations when a broken refrigerator could cause harm to a tenant, excessive water leakage, Freon discharge, and other complications could result in an uninhabitable situation. In these cases, the landlord must repair or replace the refrigerator within one or two weeks.
Repair and Deduct
In some states, there is a system in place called Repair and Deduct. If the appliance in question is deemed the landlord’s responsibility of the landlord cannot or does not wish to mend the problem, the tenant can repair the refrigerator and deduct the cost from the rent.
Before going the repair and deduct route, however, it is always best to show to check with the local rules and regulations regarding the situation. You would not want to foot the bill for a new refrigerator expecting your landlord to deduct the cost from your rent only to find out that they will not.
It is also a good idea to discuss this option with your landlord before putting up any of your own money even if the law is on your side. In many cases, the landlord can find a cheaper and easier solution to the problem.
Knowing that the money for a new refrigerator will be taken out of the next month’s rent can be quite motivating for many landlords.
When the Refrigerator Repair is the Tenants Responsibility
There are many instances when replacing the refrigerator is the tenant’s responsibility. Details associated with when and under which circumstances the replacement is not the landlord’s responsibility are usually outlined in the rental agreement.
There can be direct causes stating very clearly that repairs and replacements will be handled by one party or another. However, the wording is often more complex than that. There may be language in the contract that diverts responsibility for appliance replacement under certain circumstances.
Some examples of these provisions include intentional damage caused by the tenant, the level of repair needed, and more.
As a result, tenants and landlords who are unsure as to who’s responsible for the refrigerator repair or replacement is should always check with the rental agreement before jumping to any conclusions. If any dispute arises, courts will settle any issues based on local laws and the contract itself.
An Alternative Approach
It can be helpful in times of doubt as to who’s responsibility the fridge replacement is, to consider an alternative approach.
If the landlord is responsible for replacing the refrigerator, the replacement should take place within a couple of weeks of the request. When the tenant is responsible for replacing the refrigerator, there is no specific deadline or timeline associated with that replacement.
Find a Middle Ground
No matter whose responsibility it is, however, the fastest solution might come from working out an agreement.
Often times, landlords and tenants can work out a middle ground that both parties are happy with. Both parties can pay for half of the refrigerator replacement, for example. Another option would be, one person can pay for the replacement and the other can do the work of moving and installing the refrigerators.
Finally, tenants can present the idea of a refrigerator replacement as an upgrade to the property. If the new refrigerator is within the landlord’s budget, the new refrigerator could seem like a good idea to the landlord.
Not only will they be able to get higher rents in the future, but long-term savings from reduced power usage could also be a benefit.
Can landlords charge their tenants for broken refrigerators?
In most cases, a landlord cannot charge tenants for broken refrigerators. However, depending on the laws governing a specific state, the refrigerator may or may not be considered the landlord’s responsibility.There are laws state that the landlord must provide a clean and safe living environment to their tenants. Whether a refrigerator is considered a part of what makes an apartment clean and safe depends on state law.If the landlord is legally required to supply a refrigerator in the rental property, then repairs and replacements are the landlord’s responsibility. Unless, of course, the rental contract states otherwise.
Can I get my landlord to buy me some new appliances?
Whether you can buy your know appliances comes down to your relationship with your landlord. Many landlords have their tenants’ best interests at heart and are willing to work with them in various situations.Landlords also are often keen on keeping their rental properties in good condition which means that many are open to discussions of home-improvement, new appliances, and other forms of upgrades to their properties.In many cases, the question comes down to how much your landlord trusts that you also have the best interests of the property at heart.
Benjamin is a proud homeowner who loves to write about DIY projects and home improvement projects. Traveling, perfecting his home, and spending time with his family are just a few of the many things that keep him inspired.
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