Are landlords required to replace disgusting refridgerator for new tenants?
May 1, 2007 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Are landlords required to replace disgusting refridgerator for new tenants?

I went into my apartment a few days ago and saw the refridgerator with the doors open, all moldy and disgusting.. with some old nailpolish in there.. made me think somebody died in that place but I don't even want to think about that..

When I moved in, I noticed they just cleaned it up. It smells like a mixture of mold and ajax..and looks pathetic. I'm paying a grand for this place. Are they required by law to replace that, or am I stuck with it?

posted by 0217174 to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Perhaps mentioning what legal jurisdiction you're in might help, though I suspect you're stuck with it, especially if you didn't mention it before signing the lease.
posted by zamboni at 8:44 PM on May 1, 2007

It would help if you state your state, if you know what I mean.

But probably not, unless it's actually so bad it's against health codes. Have you talked to your landlord about it?
posted by IronLizard at 8:45 PM on May 1, 2007

preview is your friend, preview is your friend ....
posted by IronLizard at 8:46 PM on May 1, 2007

You live in California.

Here is a link to a fairly complete discussion of the implied warranty of habitability in California. Very worth reading.

Generally, a working refrigerator is not part of this implied warranty, but many, many leases promise a fridge in good working owner and specifically carve out the responsibility to maintain the fridge on the landlord.

Alternatively, your lease may contain representations by the landlord that your apartment will be clean when you move in. This would, presumably, mean, that the fridge will be free of mold and nail polish.

You have to read your lease, I'm afraid. There does not seem to be an overriding principle of California landlord-tenant law that will help you out.
posted by kosem at 8:46 PM on May 1, 2007

In most jurisdictions, if appliances are included in the lease, they are required to be "in working order" but that's very subjective... Your best bet, as mentioned above, is to check your local housing/renter's laws... If nothing else, perhaps you could try to clean it with a good scrubbing of baking soda.
posted by amyms at 8:48 PM on May 1, 2007

Thanks, yes I'm in Cali, Los Angeles. I haven't spoke to the landlord yet but I just wanted some concrete info first. Most likely I'll end up just keeping it but it's so disgusting. If I get sick I'm going to sue =}
posted by 0217174 at 8:55 PM on May 1, 2007

Go to Craigslist and get a decent fridge for $1-200, then ask the landlord what they want to do with the old one, which might bring up a conversation where the cost could be addressed. If not, then appreciate that appliances sell for fractions used.
posted by rhizome at 9:01 PM on May 1, 2007

Look at your lease. In our case, I believe all the landlord is responsible for is trashing the old fridge if we decide to buy a new one. For this reason, we use a very gross old fridge.
posted by crinklebat at 9:05 PM on May 1, 2007

I'm confused. You want to replace your refrigerator because it smells bad? ...What am I missing here?

As far as I know, landlords are not generally required to provide all-new appliances whenever tenants change. Did you bring it up when you toured the place or make it a condition of your signing the lease? That might give you more hope.

Do you think maybe they just missed a spot? Like that plastic seal around the edge, sometimes some mold gets in there? Maybe your landlord would kick in $25 to pay someone to give it an even more thorough cleaning for you or something.
posted by salvia at 9:07 PM on May 1, 2007

Oh, actually rhizome & crinklebat have a good idea. There are disposal fees associated with a fridge. If you suggest you're planning to buy a fridge because you're too disgusted, and let them know that you would like them to move out the old one, then they'll start adding up the cost of the moving van (maybe), the effort of moving it, and the storage or disposal fees. Paying a cleaning company might be cheaper than all that.
posted by salvia at 9:10 PM on May 1, 2007

Just talk to your landlord first. He/she may not even know how terrible it is (especially if it was managed by some property company). It's very likely that they will simply replace/fix it (after all, they do want to continue renting out that property). I have always had a positive experience with past landlords when I called and asked about stuff that wasn't explicitly mentioned in the lease.
posted by special-k at 9:21 PM on May 1, 2007

Document it. Document it now. Take closeup photos, put prints in an envelope, seal it, and mail it to yourself. Include a note testifying to the smell.

I firmly believe that the kind of landlord who will give you a molderiffic fridge is the kind who is also going to try and rip you off when you move out by keeping your deposit. Probably by claiming you left the place dirty. Having evidence of your landlord's variable standards of cleanliness will be helpful to you.

While I've got you photographing, document anything else you notice that's flaky, dirty, flimsy, stained, or sucky, and get that thing in the mail within the week.

/learned by experience
posted by eritain at 9:24 PM on May 1, 2007

I know a couple of people who rent in LA, and from what I've heard it's actually fairly common in their area (both in South Pasadena) for unfurnished apartments not to supply a fridge at all! You're actually supposed to buy your own and lug it from place to place, as if moving didn't suck enough.

So, nthing "check the terms of your lease."
posted by contraption at 9:30 PM on May 1, 2007

If the fridge is dirty, would you consider cleaning it? That might solve your problem.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:05 PM on May 1, 2007

Thanks for the replies.

And no, it's not just "dirty". Believe me, you wouldn't want to put food you'd eat into this thing..

I understand some places don't have one, but the point is I went into this knowing it did, and there should be reasonable expectation you're getting something safe and sanitary. "dirty" is one thing, unhealthy is another.

Anyway, I just found out they don't even have upgraded electricity there, doesn't even have 3-prong outlets. So basically, I guess I got screwed. I'm just not loving life at this moment. What else is new..
posted by 0217174 at 11:42 PM on May 1, 2007

I'm confused. You want to replace your refrigerator because it smells bad? ...What am I missing here?

I had one of these once. You couldn't keep much in it for more than 24h before it absorbed the horrible smell.

I attacked it with bleach and all manner of cleaners. This one looked fine, but, christ. That smell!

When I finally gave up and told the landlord, I got "Why didn't you just let us know? Of course we can get you a new fridge..."

So -- ask.

Mind you:

doesn't even have 3-prong outlets an "eh" in my book. You can buy adapters...
posted by kmennie at 12:59 AM on May 2, 2007

Always inspect the entire apartment before signing the lease. For your next apartment you may want to put this on the list of things to watch out for.

Other things I like to check are:

1. Turning on the water faucets to see how long it takes for hot water to come on.

2. Check the toilet.

3. See if the drains work.

4. Sniff for any lingering odors.

5. Do you see any mouse shit in the cupboards?

6. You can also buy a cheapo outlet tester at the hardware store to make sure the outlets actually work.

7. Turn on the lights several times to make sure there are no electricity problems.

8. Check stove and oven to make sure they all work.

9. Doorbells and buzzers should be operating.
posted by JJ86 at 6:18 AM on May 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Many apartments in Los Angeles now do not even provide a fridge. You are expected to bring your own...
posted by outsider at 7:20 AM on May 2, 2007

If you want to clean it: Spray bottle & 1 part bleach 2 parts water. spray very, very liberally. You can put newspaper in the bottom to catch runoff. a few days later, spray bottle & 1 part lemon juice 1 part water. If you like the smell of coffee, put an open dish of ground coffee in it, and refresh every week for a month or so.

If you haven't talked to the landlord about the foulness of it, now's the time. It's possible the landlord will take care of it. Not probable, but worth a shot.

As recommended above, document all the deficiencies, things not clean, worn carpet, etc. AskMe has a ton of "my landlord won't refund my deposit" questions.

Mold and mildew are icky, but once cleaned with bleach, the fridge does not pose a health risk. Unless it's old, replacing it is environmentally wasteful. <- my .02
posted by theora55 at 12:52 PM on May 2, 2007

If you end up stuck with the fridge there are a few threads on deodourizing.
posted by Mitheral at 2:08 PM on May 2, 2007

I had one of these once. You couldn't keep much in it for more than 24h before it absorbed the horrible smell.

Ah, okay. I've never had one that didn't respond to cleaning. I guess I don't get it either -- if you thoroughly clean and disinfect everything, where is the mold? But maybe there are some refrigerator mysteries I don't understand.

I did once get a fridge replaced by a landlord (a very cool landlord) because its seal was not holding it fully shut, so it tinkled water (about a pint every other day) onto the wood floor. I'd wipe it up when I noticed, but sometimes I wouldn't be home. Once he started comparing the price of a new fridge to the price of replacing a few floorboards and then refinishing the floor in that area, he replaced the fridge. So, my advice is to figure out a way to frame the problem in the landlord's financial self-interest.
posted by salvia at 9:58 AM on May 4, 2007

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