How have you shared appliance purchases with landlords?
June 24, 2014 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Do you have experience with conversations like "I'd really like to get a nice new stove, can we come to an agreement on the cost?" What have you done, what's worked, etc?

This isn't a big rental agency; rather the individual owner of a condo from whom I'm renting. This is in California, though I'd be surprised if that mattered.

My gut feeling for what I'd want to offer would be something like "I'd like to buy a nice stove and refrigerator. It's going to cost $2000 total. I'd like to then amortize that cost to you over three years, deducting $56 a month from each rent check. If I move out early, the stuff's yours."

To me that seems fair. They're buying it, but I have to remain a good tenant for a while for them to have done so.

Have you done anything like this? Any other kind of arrangement? Say I wanted to do this with the carpet too? Have you spoken to a landlord about replacing carpet for something less mess & allergy prone?

posted by colin_l to Human Relations (30 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wait, how does this work? They're going to buy a new refrigerator and you get to deduct a portion of your rent? I'm not following your logic.
posted by dfriedman at 8:59 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

In my experience, that's not the way this works, though you may have luck putting that past a small landlord.

The landlord has little incentive to buy you a new fridge if the old one works. The fact that you will front the cost does not change the fact that you're taking it out of your rent; it's coming out of his pocket. Indeed, if he's footing any part of the bill, he would want to pass that cost on to you in the form of increased rent, not a rent deduction.

This is usually how it goes down: "LL, I want a nicer fridge. Would you object if I buy one and get it installed? You can keep it when I leave (or, I will pay to have the old one re-installed)." Then landlord says yes or no. Obviously, you cannot make improvements to the property without his permission.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:03 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've never heard of this before.
Landlords in my past haven't replaced anything until it broke, and then, they bore the entire cost of replacement.

This whole going halvsies and amortizing thing seems to be fraught with peril from the get go.
posted by John Kennedy Toole Box at 9:04 AM on June 24, 2014

I think you're saying that you will pay upfront and then deduct the cost over time from your rent. Is that right?

Either way a landlord is not going to be ok with you taking the appliances when you leave. They've paid for them.

Buying them outright and then taking them when you leave is a different story, one that the landlord will still be wary of because they will have to deal with replacing them or storing them while you live there.

This probably won't work. You can talk to your landlord about you paying for new appliances and leaving them when you move. That they might be ok with. But asking them to bear additional cost is probably not going to pan out. Sorry.
posted by sockermom at 9:07 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Everytime I've ever wanted something replaced I've had to wait for it to break. I've never been able to get a replacement outside of the repair person saying it'll cost more to fix than it will to buy new.
posted by Carillon at 9:07 AM on June 24, 2014

I have not heard of this in regards to appliances, but I did once have a neighbor who was a carpenter and had negotiated with our mutual landlord to deduct a certain amount from each month's rent in exchange for performing improvements to his apartment (new cabinets, trim, etc., IIRC).
posted by enn at 9:08 AM on June 24, 2014

just an FYI to folks answering this: there are apparently a lot of areas in California where the landlord doesn't supply appliances like refridgerators and stoves --- each renter moves in with their own. Makes no sense to me either, but I've got a sister in southern Ca. who, after 30+ years there, considers this normal practice.
posted by easily confused at 9:08 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can float it to your landlord, but don't be surprised if you don't get buy in.

My friend Joe rents a rent controlled apartment in San Francisco and he's had the same fridge and stove since he moved in in 1983. They weren't new then either. I asked him' why not get new on your own dime', after all at this point he's paying a VERY small amount of the rent based on the market. He said he had offered, but the Landlord told him that he wants to keep everything the same because he has spare parts and knows how to fix them. (Fridge and stove only.)

So you can try, and work out a deal you can both agree on, but don't hold your breath.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:13 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, I don't think any landlord will want to pay for new appliances (up front or over time) if the current appliances still work.
Of course, many landlords have no problems with tenants making genuine improvements to the property at their own expense, as it makes the property more valuable to future tenants as well, translating into higher rent.

I would suggest the following agreement between you and landlord - you will fund the purchase of the appliances you want. They become part of the condo and stay when you leave. In exchange, landlord gives you full ownership of the old appliances, which you can then sell privately to recover part of your cost for the new appliances.
posted by trivia genius at 9:14 AM on June 24, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you've got the money to front the cost, there's always the buy your own, install, and remove when you leave option. Problems you might have with that include: landlord objection, cost/hassle of storage of the old appliances, the task of moving or selling the new appliances when you move out (or eating the cost and just leaving the things there.)

I'm in a similar situation renting a condo -- I'd really like a new stove and refrigerator. They're both functional, but ancient, inconvenient to use, and poorly insulated, plus a couple shelves in the fridge have broken railings. I expect that if I ask them for replacements the outcome will be a) I'm laughed at and given an emphatic no, or b) I get new appliances, with an outrageous rent increase. Since I don't deal directly with my owner and go through a property management company, negotiation options are limited, and I don't want to annoy the owner enough that I get a rent increase just for the hell of it and no new anything.
posted by asperity at 9:15 AM on June 24, 2014

Before even offering some sort of "arrangement" I would first bring up the state of the appliances and flooring with the landlord to see if they agree that it's time to get them replaced. Are there problems with them? Do they obviously need replacing?

My father is a landlord in Canada. He is generally interested in keeping his properties up to date and prefers tenants who obviously care versus tenants who don't. That said, if the stove works fine and the carpet is okay then he probably wouldn't want to replace them. If you offered to split the cost, then that might make it worthwhile.

There's no harm in asking and when you're dealing with an individual there's a lot more room for negotiation. If you're a generally a no-hassle, pays rent on time tenant, then it might be worth their while to spend a little bit updating the place then try to find someone else.
posted by ODiV at 9:17 AM on June 24, 2014

I am a very-small-time landlord. I would consider an arrangement like this. It would depend on the tenant and on the details of the deal.
posted by alms at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'd like to then amortize that cost to you over three years, deducting $56 a month from each rent check. If I move out early, the stuff's yours."

I don't think you're seeing this correctly. You're basically asking to buy stuff with their money that YOU want. There is (literally) nothing in it for them. They're still buying the fridge etc in your example.

I mean, I can see you saying "Ok, I would like a new fridge, the one you want is X but the one I want is X+$300. Can I pay the difference and get the fridge I want?" But I can't see "I'd like a fridge I want, I'd like you to buy it for me, but I will lend you the money against the rent".

Your position is not a reasonable or valid one. You only have a leg to stand on if the appliances need replacing and the landlord is saying he can't afford to right now so you'll give him interest free credit to help him out. If the appliances *don't* need replacing there is just nothing in it for them to take this 'deal'. You're not 'coming to an arrangement' you are flat out asking them to buy you the appliances you want at their cost.
posted by Brockles at 9:18 AM on June 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

This is a condo, the OP has appliances and carpet.

I know CA law on renting.

Um, OP. With respect, you should not have rented this unit if the appliances and carpet were not to your liking.

If you float this to your landlord, you will (rightfully) be labeled a pain in the ass tenant and your landlord will be very wary when dealing with you going forward.

It costs $50 to $100 to have carpets professionally cleaned. Pay for that if you need it done. Your landlord is responsible for replacing the carpet every 8 years in most CA jurisdictions, nothing more.

A better strategy is for you to claim extreme allergies to the carpet and inquire of your landlord what the procedure and penalties are for breaking your lease and moving out early. If you help him or her find a replacement tenant, it could go easily for you.

Rent a unit with the amenities you desire. This condo is not for you.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 9:19 AM on June 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Speaking with my LL's hat on: I would be chortling politely while reading any email to this effect. Tenants are notorious for being hell on appliances--my mother, an ex-LL, often wound up replacing stoves and fridges after move-outs--and there's zero guarantee that this deal would rebound in the LL's favor. Moreover, the LL will rightly be thinking about outcomes if s/he has to evict you. If you want a new stove and fridge, let alone new carpet (did you not bring up the carpet when signing the lease?), then that needs to come out of your pocket, along with the expenses of storing the other stove and fridge. (Not that you would replace the carpet without letting the landlord know, because s/he might not be laughing quite so politely if they discovered that at the end of your lease.) You might be able to negotiate something if you spend a year proving that you're a reliable tenant.
posted by thomas j wise at 9:27 AM on June 24, 2014

There is (literally) nothing in it for them.

Sure there is. When the apartment is up for rent again, they can market it as having new appliances and potentially charge more in rent.

However, I agree that the deal as proposed is unbalanced towards the renter's side of the ledger. I'd expect to be more successful with a strategy of asking if the appliances can be replaced, with the amortized cost added to the current rent, but maybe at a lesser rate than proposed. So, the renter gets new appliances and has their rent go up $25-30 a month or so.
posted by LionIndex at 9:28 AM on June 24, 2014

When the apartment is up for rent again, they can market it as having new appliances and potentially charge more in rent.

Not really, though. They'd be 3 years old (according to the original plan) and (as mentioned) unless the original appliances were broken, the landlord has thrown or away (or paid to store) perfectly good appliances. If they had two more years in them, then their average 'cost per year' for appliances is unquestionably higher with the presented deal from the tenant.

At best it's a consolation prize, not an advantage to them. I don't think this is a derail (although it is close) as it may help the OP realise how people/Landlords calculate benefit to them with their property.
posted by Brockles at 9:46 AM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

No, if they want to market the apartment as having new appliances/carpet after this tenant leaves, they can buy new ones then as opposed to having three-year-old, used appliances/carpet (what they'll be when the OP plans on moving).

Right now you don't have leverage (you already are in the apartment, presumably have a lease, and moving costs time and money) and it's a messy, undesirable deal for the landlord so unless they want to do you a huge favor, I don't see this happening.

For just a couple of examples of what I'd be concerned about in addition to what I just pointed out about depreciation during your tenancy, what happens in relation to the new stuff if they have to evict you (for illegal activity, for breach of lease)? Where do the old things go (is the landlord going to have to pay for storage now)?

What I have done successfully is negotiate changes/additions to the place prior to signing the lease and incorporating those changes into the lease.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:50 AM on June 24, 2014

If I move out early, the stuff's yours.

This is where I get lost: will you be taking the new appliances with you when the lease is up? If so, why on earth would the landlord agree to pay for them?

Furthermore, even if he agrees to buy new appliances, you will be using them first, for up to three years. You're renting them. It's fair that you pay for their use even if you don't own them in the end.

There's also the question of whether the landlord actually wants to replace the fridge and stove, or likes the same ones you do.

Figure out a way to make this deal more appealing/fair to your landlord before you propose it, and even then, don't be surprised if the answer is no.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:51 AM on June 24, 2014

Ruthless Bunny raises a good point - Most appliances you see in rentals are identical or of the same line because it makes repairs easy. Landlord knows the exact dimemnsions, have spare parts, and they know they can call that one repair due who rocks at that line of appliance. Start getting random appliances in, and it throws the whole system off rhythm.
posted by jmd82 at 9:54 AM on June 24, 2014

If I move out early, the stuff's yours.

I took this to mean that either way the landlord gets to keep the new stuff; it's just that if the OP stays for the duration of the amortization, the landlord pays for the full cost while if the OP decides to leave early, the landlord gets a break on the price.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:57 AM on June 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Thanks for asking this, I've been contemplating something similar. My plan was that when the appliance died that I would ask how much the cheap crap they were going to replace it with costs and see if I could add my own money on top of it to get something better, not plain white, etc. I'm in a rent-controlled apartment with a non-corporate landlord, so I think this might work (still waiting for the next thing to die, which it probably will), but I wouldn't dream of trying to amortize it. It would just be a living expense that improved my environment.
posted by rhizome at 10:11 AM on June 24, 2014

I think the closest you're going to get is this: "Landlord, I'd like to use my own stove here. Do you have a place we can store this one until we move out, or do we need to store it on the premises?"

They might come back with a, "hey, you know what, I'll kick in X amount if you leave it when you go" but that'd totally be because they want to, not because they have to."

They might also come back with "no, you have to use the stove that's there."
posted by Lyn Never at 10:54 AM on June 24, 2014

To actually answer the question: I have done this, but it was a $200 dishwasher and of course it was going to stay when we left. We paid for it and took $100 off the following month's rent, by pre-arrangement. I was willing to buy the whole thing if I had to.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:57 AM on June 24, 2014

I do not have rent control, and negotiate with my landlord every year for rent.
I have, a couple of times, agreed to a rent increase (less that he initially asked for, but still an increase), if he agreed to something else. The last time was "replace the really ancient fridge, please". It worked fine, but I've been in my apartment for something like 9 years and have never once been late on rent, so that probably helps.
posted by flaterik at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2014

(I have just one rental house so I am a very, very small landlord.)

Because you mentioned "fair", it seems to me that you want to position this to your landlord as adding value to their property over time.

If you truly believe this, are you ready to pay more each month in rent?

You are not, and moreover, you want a discount. So you already know that the property is not worth more with these improvements.

They're buying it, but I have to remain a good tenant for a while for them to have done so.

What's your definition of a "good tenant"? Paying rent and not trashing the place? Unless you are in a very soft rental market, you are not doing anything special by simply paying your rent and being a minimally decent tenant.

This is not unlike asking your boss for a raise plus extra vacation in exchange for continuing to do your job.
posted by rada at 11:55 AM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Once upon a time, one of my uncles owned a house he rented out; after living there for five years, his tenants came to him one day and said they'd like to buy the house: the price they offered him was what he'd paid for it fifteen years earlier minus the five years of rent they'd already paid.

My uncle laughed at them, as your landlord will do if you offer them this deal.

Basically, you want your landlord to buy the appliances you prefer, by giving you a $56 monthly rent-reduction..... huh? Just out of curiosity, how did you come up with that $56 figure: is that perhaps the total appliance cost divided by how long you expect to be living in that condo, in which case how would any of this be to your landlord's benefit? He'd be losing money monthly, he couldn't claim those appliances as new to the next renter, and he'd have to spend time and money (delivery fees for the new stuff, removal and storage fees for the old) to accomplish this. Not gonna happen.

As for the carpet: if you want to replace the carpet, talk to him first to get his permission; if he gives you the okay, expect to pay the entire cost yourself --- as with the appliances, he has zero incentive to pay any of it himself. Be aware that merely ripping out the existing carpet or replacing it with something you like better could cause you to lose your security deposit.

You chose to move in with the existing appliances and existing carpet; he isn't required to replace them just because you've decided you want something else. Also note that installing anything like appliances or carpet will often automatically make them the landlord's property, even if you fully paid for them yourself: they would be considered 'permanent'.
posted by easily confused at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2014

I own one rental unit. I think there's no harm in asking if your landlord can work with you in some way. Start by saying that you really like living there; you love to cook and would like to have a better grade of stove and fridge. Ask if he/she would be willing to buy them and then let you pay for them over time. Stop talking at that point -- they will have questions. They will also have their own idea of what a normal stove/refrigerator lifespan is, and it might be a lot longer than 3 years. See what they propose, and then go off and think about it for a while.

One landlord might like what you've suggested here, because your repaying them within three years isn't very long. Another might not be interested at all. Leave the question open enough at first that you can find out what their concerns are. Show respect for their point of view.
posted by wryly at 1:49 PM on June 25, 2014

One landlord might like what you've suggested here, because your repaying them within three years isn't very long.

wryly, the OP isn't planning on repaying the landlord at all - it's actually the other way around; the OP wants to buy stuff they like and then pay less rent until the landlord ends up having paid for the OP's preferred equipment in full.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:16 PM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I misunderstood the question.

I would say that, if you can convince the landlord that it needs replacing, you could offer to pay the difference between the model they would buy anyway and what you want.

But you'd just have to pay it.
posted by flaterik at 2:53 PM on June 25, 2014

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