When you rent a house in Austin, you get the house, and some basic appliances. Usually this includes built-in stuff such as the dishwasher and range (technically not a built-in, but treated as such), sometimes a built-in microwave. If one of these items breaks, the landlord pays to fix it.
What about a refrigerator, washer and dryer?
Washers and Dryers are not normally included with a rental house in Austin. Refrigerators are more commonly included, but still less than half of rental houses in Austin include a refrigerator. At the time of this writing, for example, there are 844 Active rental house listings in the Austin MLS. Of those, 356 are advertised as including a refrigerator. Many of those will stipulate that the refrigerator, washer or dryer is not maintained by the landlord. If you are renting a house in Austin, you should expect to bring your own refrigerator, washer and dryer unless they are provided for in the lease agreement.
If a refrigerator is included, who pays to maintain it?
It depends. For the properties we manage, we normally do not include maintenance of “left behind” or “orphaned” appliances. From a management standpoint, I’d rather let tenants bring their own appliances and maintain them. But we often inherit or end up with appliances being left in a property either by departing tenants or owners who no longer need or want them. When this happens, we could simply have them hauled off or sell them on Craigslist, or we can leave them in the property for the next tenant to use.
Often, a departing tenant who brought their own fridge will have bought a new home and the builder provided an appliance package. That tenant will call and say “we don’t need our fridge. It’s about 8 years old but works great, should we leave it there in case the next tenant wants to use it?” And I’ll say “yes, go ahead and leave it. If the next tenant doesn’t want it, I’ll get rid of it”.
So, as an incoming tenant, we’ll typically have three scenarios for appliances that are in the home.
1) No appliances. This one’s easy. When you view the home, you actually see that there is no refrigerator, washer or dryer. You’ll need to bring your own.
2) Non-maintained appliances. When you view the home, prior to leasing, you will see a refrigerator and/or washer/dryer in the home, but the MLS listing will either state that they are not included or that they are optional. These appliances are, in effect, waiting to be hauled away because of the aforementioned scenarios. But before we do haul them off, we ask the incoming tenant if you want us to leave them there for you to use and maintain yourself.
This might save you the $800-$2,000 you’d spend to buy used or new appliances yourself. The appliances being left in the home will most often work fine for the entire duration of your lease. But if one of them breaks, the repair is at your expense. Still, even an occasional repair is cheaper and less hassle than purchasing your own. And you don’t end up owning a fridge that you may not need when you buy a home or move again.
3) Fully maintained appliances. On some of our nicer homes, the owner has invested in higher end appliances and actually plans to return to the property to live again in a few years. In this case, the owner may want us to go ahead and maintain the appliances as part of the lease agreement. Also, some homes, like newer urban infill homes, have space only for a stack washer/dryer, which the owner provides and maintains because it’s not feasible for a tenant to buy custom appliances to fit smaller spaces just for one lease term.
Whatever the arrangement, it will be spelled out up front and in the actual lease agreement you sign. Make sure you understand and agree to the terms of your lease agreement before signing, no matter who you rent from, and make sure you know that just because a refigerator is in the home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the landlord has agreed to repair it if it breaks.