How to share a washer/dryer with other tenants?
January 25, 2007 7:23 AM   Subscribe

So I found a new home. Its great. Only catch is this: there is a washer dryer hookup but I'm pretty sure its hooked up to only one of the unit's electric/gas (I'm not sure who's). This seems like this would ultimately lead to conflict. I'm trying to figure out a low stress solution to this problem.

I have not signed a lease yet, but I want to (very badly), and I want to come up with a solution before I do. The landlord has been selling it as something the two units will share, though I don't think he is being sneaky, just dense. So I think if I come up with some sort of workable solution, he'd make it official. If not, I want some sort of gameplan.

I have 3 plans in my head, all assuming that the hookup is on my electric and gas.

1) I declare it is mine and no one can use it. (I'm a softy, this might not work)
2) I say 'You buy a washer/dryer you hook it up, you let us use it, and we call it even."
3) I purchase washer/dryer and have them pay a small monthly usage fee to cover gas/electric (which I'm not sure how much it should be)

There is only two units in the building, and the upstairs is a 2 bedroom (so possibly 2-3 people?). I would like this to be as low stress/noisy neighbor as possible, where I don't have to be counting in my head the number of times they are using the thing. We are moving to try to get some real life, friendly, lets have a beer and watch the ducks on the pond sort of lifestyle there, so I don't want to be a draconian jerk - but I also don't want to have to be poor if someone has poor washer/dryer habits.
posted by mrgreyisyelling to Human Relations (8 answers total)
Give the guy a call. I think you should ask for the facts of ownership and work from there. In my estimation, I would assume the landlord owns the thing and allows the two tenants to use it. Let us know what you find out.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:31 AM on January 25, 2007

Just because there are only two units in the building doesn't mean there are only two meters. For all you know there could be a third meter that feeds the washer/dryer, the outdoor lights, and any hallways or other shared space.

But you won't know until you ask.
posted by hermitosis at 8:21 AM on January 25, 2007

And when I say ask, I mean ask the electric company also. They should be able to tell you how many meters they have at a particular address.
posted by hermitosis at 8:24 AM on January 25, 2007

Contact the gas and electric company, or just take a look around the place yourself, and try to figure out how many meters there are. If there is only one electric, and one gas meter, for the whole building, then you are already splitting the cost of the utilities with the upstairs people. (I doubt this is the case.)

If there are two meters, then you need to figure out which one the washer/dryer hookup is connected to. If the hookup is connected to your meters, and the hookup itself is located in your portion of the building, then I think it's yours, unless there's something in writing that says otherwise. I'd recommend just making it yours, and telling the upstairs people to continue doing whatever they've been doing up until now (there's no machine there now, right?). But if you can't do that, then you need to sit down with them and figure up some way of splitting the cost. (I wouldn't split the cost of the machine itself with them, owning something that you can't cut in half and split is just messy.)

I guess if I were in your shoes, the first call would be to the landlord, and I'd ask them to clarify the situation. They are more than just "clueless" if they think that something like that, left clarified, isn't going to become a problem later on. It's in his interest as well as yours to make sure everyone knows what the deal is. To be honest, I've never run into a situation where money was involved, where people "just shared" and things worked out indefinitely. But maybe that's just me.

Whatever you end up doing, it would be best to get it in writing; if not, at least get the upstairs neighbor to agree verbally in front of the landlord, so everyone is on the same page.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:51 AM on January 25, 2007

I've run into similar things, and the mysterious 'shared' what-not has invariably been on a third (or Xth) meter belonging to the landlord. Perhaps he means you share the use of it, not the cost? Or am I the one being dense now?

At any rate, as far as working it out with a neighbour goes, see if you can't get a FreeCycle'd washer and dryer and get them to help you pick up and install the pair...? Saves worry over wear and tear.
posted by kmennie at 9:12 AM on January 25, 2007

I have a similar situation with my current apartment, though everyone was much less up-front about it in the beginning.

Without going into the details, I'd say this: Firstly, the washer will be much cheaper to run than the dryer. Find out which apartment is paying for the dryer.

If it is your apartment, I personally would ask the landlord for an amount off your rent each year for drying someone else's clothes. You could calculate it by calling your gas company, getting the cost per therm, and trying to find out what the dryer might use. This way, you don't have to get the money out of the tenants. Considering the amount may be rather low, the landlord might not care about giving you the discount.

If it's on their meter, hmm. I'd work with the tenants and come up with an agreement, that you'll pay x amount for usage. Follow through. Also maybe come up with a plan saying who'll use it when.

In my situation, the dryer is hooked up to our power in a 2 family flat. The people below have no hookups. When we moved in, the tenants below had a dryer hooked up, and we didn't have a w&d anyways. They were quick to say that we could use their w&d if we'd pay for the dryer's usage, you know, to be fair. They deceived us about *why* the dryer was hooked up to our power, and when we no longer wanted to deal with them use their w&d, they basically lied about why they wouldn't remove it. Despite repeated requests of them and contacts with the landlord (no help), we ended up paying for their dryer until they moved out, a number of months.

When they moved out, we bought a w&d, hooked it up to our own hookups. The tenants who moved in below are great, and we let them use the set. Every few months they slip a gift certificate to a yummy eatery through our door. Everyone's happy.

But you're at the mercy of what kind of people your neighbors are if you don't have some sort of arrangement ahead of time. If it can't be reached, personally, I'd say get a different apartment. It's not worth the trouble. Living in a 2 family flat and having major friction with the people below can be very uncomfortable.
posted by FortyT-wo at 9:54 AM on January 25, 2007

Coin-op washers and dryers are available. Or, landlord pays and builds it into rent.
posted by theora55 at 9:00 PM on January 25, 2007

I guess I'll just answer how it worked out in the end, so if in the future, someone else will have answers:

I miss heard him. Its only for our unit, and its hooked up to our lines. Since there is no existing washer/dryer there is no problem.

Thank you for the metacomfort.
posted by mrgreyisyelling at 6:23 AM on January 26, 2007

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