As an investor, it’s important to provide your tenants with a safe, functioning home environment — and that includes working appliances.
One of the first things tenants will look for in a rental unit is appliances — does the unit have new, modern appliances? Are all the appliances in working order? And do all of their desired appliances — like a stove, fridge, and dishwasher — come with the unit?
The answers to those questions can be a deciding factor for quality tenants; if the right appliances are in the unit and in working order, that can be a major selling point. But if the appliances are out of date, not functioning properly, or completely absent? It can push the best tenants away and into another property.
On the other hand, as an owner, you want to make sure that maintaining and repairing your appliances is cost effective and in your best interest as an investor. That is why knowing the shelf life of each appliance is super important.
So the main question becomes: how long do appliances last? And when they break, whose job is it to fix or replace them?
Why You Should Care About Appliances
Now, as an owner, you might be tempted to say, “Why should I care about appliances? Let the renters bring their own!” But if you want your rental properties to stay competitive — and attract the highest-quality tenants — you need to provide the high-quality appliances to match.
There’s a number of benefits to keeping clean, working, modern appliances in each of your rental properties:
- Modern appliances can increase the value of your rental
- Modern appliances can increase the value of your rental
- Modern appliances are less likely to need repairs, which saves you money in the long run
While adding modern appliances to your rental properties is an investment in the short term, it can save you money (on energy costs, repair costs, and general wear and tear) and make you money (in increased rental prices) in the long run.
How Long Typical Household Appliances Last
Let’s take a look at how long household appliances typically last:
Typical Lifespan of Household Appliances:
- Dishwasher: 9 - 11 years
- Gas range: 15 years
- Stove: 15 - 18 years
- Garbage Disposal: 10 - 12 years
- Microwave: 9 - 10 years
- Furnace: 15 - 20 years
- Washer and Dryer: 10 - 13 years
- Water Heater: 10 - 25 years
- Central Air: 15 - 20 years
Obviously, the length of life in appliances is dependent on use and upkeep. Appliances that are used less often typically last longer, as do appliances that receive regularly maintenance.
So, if you have a single person living in your rental property and you regularly check and repair your appliances, you’ll likely get a longer shelf life than if you had a family of five using the appliances and if you neglected minor repairs.
When to Replace Vs. When to Repair
Another factor to consider when it comes to appliances is when to replace vs. when to repair.
There’s no denying that purchasing new appliances is an investment. But sometimes, the cost of repairing or maintaining older, damaged appliances can be just as much — or even more — of an investment.
For example, if you’re using old, outdated appliances, they won’t be as energy-efficient as a new model, which will run up your costs. Plus, since they’re out of date, repairing them can be more costly (since the parts necessary to fix them are likely harder to find).
Determining whether something is worth repairing can be a challenge. If the repair will extend the life of the appliance for multiple years, then a repair might be the best investment. If the repair will only buy you a few months of use, replacing it is clearly the more cost-effective option.
Replace or Repair?
To determine whether you should repair or replace your appliances, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this appliance still under warranty? If so, you may be able to get it repaired or replaced for free.
- How near is it to the end of the appliance’s average shelf life? If an appliance is getting close to the end of its expected lifespan, spending money on repairs isn’t cost-effective. It’s much better to replace it.
You can also apply the 50% rule. If the cost of the repair is more than 50% of the cost of purchasing the appliance new AND the appliance is more than 50% into its projected lifespan, replacing it is always the better option.
Keeping on Top of Your Appliances
If you want to get the most out of your appliances, it’s important to stay on top of maintenance, and to repair and replace when necessary. Regular maintenance and upkeep can extend the life of your appliances by years and save you significant costs in major repairs or appliance replacements.
It’s also important to know which appliances you need to keep a close eye on and which you can let die out on their own. For example, you don’t want to wait for a water furnace to break; that would flood your entire property and cause serious property damage. Instead, you want to proactively replace it as it nears the end of its projected shelf life. Other appliances, like a microwave, are fine to let die on their own; the cost and hassle of replacing a microwave is minimal, and if it breaks on its own, it won’t do any serious damage to the property.
Your property manager should be the person to handle your appliance maintenance. They can offer valuable insight into the state of your appliances, which should be repaired, and which should be replaced. While you have to decide the level of trust you’re comfortable with, the more autonomy you can give your property manager when it comes to appliances, the better they’ll be able to maintain them — and replace them when necessary.
You can either give your property manager an appliance budget for the property and allow them to make decisions completely independently, or you can ask them to run all major purchases through you prior to repairing or replacing your appliances. Whichever route you decide to go, you should at the very least give your property manager the authority for minor repairs and maintenance; that way, your appliances last as long as possible and you’re not bothered with every $20 repair your property manager needs to make.
Maintaining your appliances is important for owners both from a cost and a tenant-relations perspective. Knowing how long typical household appliances last — and when to repair and when to replace — can help you keep your tenants happy and your appliance costs down.