Great Apartment. Where’s the Dishwasher?
A Guide to Best Deals in Appliances for Los Angeles Renters
First-time renters in Los Angeles are often surprised to learn that apartments do not automatically come furnished with major appliances. In most cases tenants must provide their own appliances, creating a huge local market for new and used appliances. Before you snap up that bargain fridge off Craigslist, here are some guidelines for getting the best deals for your dollar.
* Find out what appliances you need. In some cases landlords will have appliances left behind by former tenants that will convey with the apartment. Remember though, unless stated otherwise in the rental agreement, the tenant must maintain and fix these appliances or replace them if they break.
* Check out the hook ups. Clothes washers and dryers and some dishwashers require special plumbing hook ups, so make sure the apartment you rent has them. If your apartment does not have proper hook ups, ask your landlord to install them. In today’s economy, landlords may be willing to negotiate in order to rent a unit quickly, so they may put in hooks ups by request, and they may even spring for the appliances too.
* Look for options. If there are no hook ups, it may not be a deal breaker. There are many portable appliances designed to work without hooks ups or permanent installation.
When there are no dishwasher hook ups, an ideal solution is a portable dishwasher that can be rolled into place and attached to a facet and plugged into a regular grounded electrical outlet, such as the Whirlpool ENERGY STAR Qualified Tall Tub Portable Dishwasher ($699). http://www.whirlpool.com/catalog/product_printer_friendly.jsp?par=74&cat=108&subCat=110&prod=1923. It drains directly into sink, so additional plumbing is not needed. As a bonus, the top of the unit also serves as additional countertop space.
Portable air conditioners similarly require no special hooks ups. Unlike the old-fashioned window units, the portable models do not need to be mounted in a window; so they do not block out light or jut into courtyards or sidewalks where they are a hazard and eyesore. Also unlike window units, they do not drip or cause noise outside, which are reasons many landlords prohibit window styles.
For the average-size apartment, a 12,000-BTU portable would suffice, such as the no-drip DeLonghi PAC C120E Portable Air Conditioner and Dehumidifier ($479.95) http://www.sylvane.com/delonghi-pac-c120e-ac.html. It has an exhaust hose that vents through a vertical-opening or slide-out window, so it is easy to install and remove as needed. The unit is also quiet and low-maintenance, and as a bonus it uses eco-friendly R-410A refrigerant.
This size unit, which is about the size of a large hamper or kitchen trashcan, can cool spaces of up to 400 square feet, and it can be moved room to room, eliminating the need for a unit in each room. Of course, the beauty of portability also means when you moves, the appliance can go with you, without leaving a footprint.
* If you can, buy new. It is always best to buy a new appliance with a warranty. Although used appliances may be cheaper than new, you carry the risk of buying “as is” merchandise.
* Be consumer savvy. If you cannot afford new, then do your best to protect yourself when buying used appliances. Beware of shifty sellers who may be trying to unload damaged goods.
* Get it in writing. Ask if the seller will sign a bill of sale that guarantees that the appliance will work for up to 30 days or else the seller will take it back and refund your money. Get a receipt, because even without this agreement, you may have a case in small claims court if you can prove the appliance is a lemon.
* Hire professional movers. Sometimes damage to appliances occurs in transit because movers do not know the proper way to secure appliances, such as washers, which must be moved upright.
* Think portable. When buying a new appliance for a rental apartment, portability is key. Refrigerators with side-by-side doors are notoriously cumbersome to move, so if you plan on relocating soon, consider a traditional freezer-on-top split door style. Smaller models are safer bets not only because they are easier to move but because larger models may not fit in all kitchens, particularly in older apartments built before modern appliances existed, like those that still have remnants of ice boxes, now mostly converted into cabinet space.
* Be a proud owner. It is always a better bet for tenants to have their own, new appliances because they know the reliability of the appliances, and they have the option of moving them when they change apartments. If a tenant rents an apartment that is already furnished with appliances, the tenant can ask that the landlord remove the appliances.