Roommates + Landlords

Is your landlord legally required to provide you with a fridge—or any appliances?

By Virginia K. Smith  | October 27, 2016 - 1:59PM

After seeing one too many studios with dorm-sized mini fridges (or a glorified hot plate for a stove), it occurred to us that we'd never asked a very simple question: What appliances does your landlord actually have to provide?

As it turns out, while it's typical across the NYC market for rentals to come equipped with a refrigerator and full stove, the actual requirements laid out by the city's Housing Maintenance Code are surprisingly bare bones. "The only appliances required by the code are a water closet (basically, a toilet), bath, washbashin, and kitchen sink with waste and trap," explains real estate attorney Ron Langeudoc.

In addition to basic utilities—electrical lighting, adequate water supply (and hot water), heating, and electricity or gas to the kitchen for cooking—landlords are also required to provide you with electric lighting fixtures in the bathroom (as well as lighting in the building's common areas). However, as far as major kitchen equipment that many of us have come to consider par for the course, Langeudoc says "[landlords] are not required to provide either a refrigerator or a stove." 

Rather, the provision of these larger appliances is just "standard practice" for most city landlords, according to FirstService Realty President Aviv Zumin. They also probably help landlords rent them faster.

Still, it's a good idea to check your lease, to see if it specifically details that your apartment will come with these "extras," as having it in writing will entitle you to extra protections. "Leases vary as to whether they say the landlord will provide specific appliances or not," Languedoc explains, "But there is a provision of the Multiple Dwelling Law that a landlord must keep a dwelling unit in good repair, and that means if the apartment comes with appliances, the landlord is required to maintain those appliances."

Plus, if an apartment's rent-regulated, even without a written lease provision, the landlord has to maintain the appliances that came with the apartment when you moved in.

And lease or no, the invisible hand of New York City's real estate market (the same one that sticks us with paying broker fees), works in your favor here, as it's generally expected that your kitchen will have the basics. So if a landlord tries to convince you that it's normal for a New York rental to be BYO-fridge? Time to take your search elsewhere.


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