Who’s Responsible for Appliances Left by Former Tenant?

February 27, 2013
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Many owners supply tenants with appliances such as refrigerators, stoves, microwave ovens, and garbage disposals. And when these appliances eventually break down, you may need to know whether you’re supposed to repair or replace the broken appliance. Failing to do so, if required, can result in a Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) ruling that you have reduced services, and the DHCR can order a rent cut.

Several factors are involved in your repair and replacement responsibilities: Who installed the appliance? When was it installed? And what does your lease say about the appliance?

When a tenant installs an appliance that you never provided, that appliance is not a required service. However, that tenant-installed appliance can become a required service if the tenant leaves it behind in the apartment when he moves out and it’s still there when the new tenant moves in.

To prevent this appliance from becoming a required service and considered your property, you must remove it before the new tenant moves in or you must disclaim ownership of the appliance in the new tenant's lease. You can do this by using a special rider to the tenant's new lease, like our Model Lease Language: Disclaim Ownership of Abandoned Appliances, to avoid assuming responsibility for any abandoned appliances.