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Ask an Expert: What's the worst that can happen if I install a washer-dryer without permission?

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Q. What's the worst that could happen if I install a washer-dryer without permission? If the co-op board finds out, I'll just have to remove it, right?

A. Whether you're in a co-op, condo or rental apartment, you can be forced to remove the unauthorized washer-dryer, says Roberta Axelrod, a real estate broker and asset manager at Time Equities who sits on many boards as a sponsor's representative.

Additionally, she says, "in many coops there is a fine for unauthorized installations and alterations. The  severity of the consequences also may relate to circumstances."

For example, if there aren't adequate dedicated electrical circuits for the washer and dryer, the electricity could blow out in the building. Or, the plumbing may not be able to handle the washer and suds could back up to the apartment below causing damage .

On the bright side, notes apartment insurance broker Jeff Schneider of Gotham Brokerage, your co-op insurance, if you have it, would cover property damage even if the machine was unauthorized or "installed improperly and sends water into you apartment and  the apartment below."

However, you'll have to pay for the cost of removal and any fines leveled by your co-op, he notes.

For any renters reading this, Axelrod explains that an unauthorized washer-dryer would be a violation of the terms of your lease.

"If you are rent stabilized, you will probably get a chance to 'cure' the problem by getting rid of the machine, but if you are a market-rate tenant, you risk not being offered a renewal lease for breaking the terms of your lease," she says.

Practically speaking, notes Axelrod,  "in most buildings it is difficult to actually get a washer dryer into the building without building staff noticing. Once it's in, anytime the super, painter or handyman need access, you risk being discovered. Best to follow the rules or find a building that permits washer dryers."


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