Does My Landlord Have To Fix My Broken Dishwasher?

by | Oct 4, 2012 | Tenant Law

My roommate and I have been living in our Victorian flat for 2.5 years. It was built in 1900, has 3 units, and all are owned privately by the same woman. She installed new appliances a couple years before we moved in, but we are well equipped with a dishwasher and a washer and dryer.

Our dishwasher recently stopped working and when I reached out to her to see if someone could come take a look, she said that it was our responsibility to pay for repairs. I asked about a warranty for the dishwasher or if there was repair history, and she said no. I don’t think we should have to pay for repairs when we don’t technically own the dishwasher, and we would practically pay for her updates since we wouldn’t take it with us when we move out. But at the same time, I know that not all apartments in the city come with dishwashers, as they are considered more of a “luxury item.”

Do you have any advice?

When you initially rent an apartment, any amenities that come with the apartment are factors that determine the unit’s initial value. For example, a top-floor apartment with a view may be more expensive than an apartment in the same building without a view. Amenities and services are factors that prospective tenants use to make their decision to rent.

A dishwasher is a housing service provided as part of your initial rent. Who knows, you may have decided to rent the apartment specifically because it had a dishwasher. You are paying a portion of your rent, albeit a small one, for working dishwasher and it is the landlord’s responsibility to repair the dishwasher when it breaks.

Your tenancy is governed by the San Francisco Rent Ordinance. Rent Ordinance §37.2(g) defines housing services:

“Services provided by the landlord connected with the use or occupancy of a rental unit including, but not limited to: quiet enjoyment of the premises, without harassment by the landlord as provided in Section 37.10B; repairs; replacement; maintenance; painting; light; heat; water; elevator service; laundry facilities and privileges; janitor service; refuse removal; furnishings; telephone; parking; rights permitted the tenant by agreement[…]”

Take a look at your lease. Hopefully the dishwasher is specifically mentioned as a service provided by the landlord, but even if it is not, you should not be deterred.

You should write the landlord a letter explaining that your dishwasher need to be repaired and point out that you will file a petition for a decrease in services with the Rent Board to reduce your rent accordingly until the repairs are made. Give the landlord a date certain to repair. If she refuses or fails to do so, file the petition.

Is this a luxury problem? Sure, in that the ceiling isn’t caving in and it will soon be raining in your kitchen. Nevertheless, your landlord is in breach of the lease. You are not receiving the services that you paid for and it’s worth making the landlord perform her obligation under the contract.

4 Comments

  1. I live in a house. I love the house but it has some problems. My landlord lives in Florida but he has a maintenance man the takes care of the houses.the maintenance man always gets mad because I call in and report problems within the house. And when I do he always thinks I’m trying to cause trouble and I’m not just trying to get my stuff fixed. When I run at the house and had a fireplace in it it had a fire in it and burn the one side of the house it was told to me that it was never to be used cuz insurance wouldn’t cover it I had to cover it over just so the cold weather wouldn’t come down the chimney and make the sunroom very cold in winter when I asked if they could fix it they said no so I so I told then seal it off and leave it in there it looks good I ended up getting on the roof and ceiling it up myself I’m blocking it off it sure wasn’t the maintenance man the house was told to me and had central air well it broke it don’t work anyway it’s old and he will not replace it when I moved in the gas company wooden light the furnace the wires at all been burnt it took me six months to get a furnace and a little bit of threatening through the city because the furnace was not working will finally got the furnace but no central air there is a dishwasher in the kitchen it came with the house when I’m running it I went to run it one day I blew up at me and started smoking they told me it worked when I asked they said it was my responsibility or they wouldn’t fix it I thought all fixtures that came with the house were to be fixed by the maintenance man or it should have been replaced now water is backing up from the sink into the dishwasher and comes out onto the floor every once in awhile which made the subflooring very weak it makes the towels on the floor and everything very weak in the floor bounces up and down in the kitchen the windows were all painted shut I’ve been chilly got three of them to open by myself understand I know something’s are my responsibility but isn’t this going a little out of the way just to get air circulating through your house there is a stove hood over my stove it does not work it has a vent going up to the middle of it in through the cupboards every time I cook a hamburger it goes off the the smoke detectors or something makes the smoke detectors go off I thought that was to be fixed by the landlord to but not the ceiling is falling in in the kitchen beautiful kitchen I called them that is the maintenance man and he says just put a washer in it and hold the towels up well it’s starting to cave worse the faucets since I moved in world and we’re leaking which were both getting my electric bill to go up my water bill I called them and they said well you could try to fix it yourself did that costed me about 50 bucks to do still were leaking finally just the other day told them they were still leaking after 6 months they came over to the house and change the faucets on the bathtub now it don’t drip anymore but I am also aware of the water leaks on the meter I guess I have to call the electric company to get that fixed the faucets don’t work outside they leak there is a electric heater in my living room baseboard heating that’s supposed to heat the sunroom you turn it on it runs the electric bill sky high the maintenance man determined it as a fire hazard and it shouldn’t be used so now what do I do I’ve already called the city they knew the house was not inspected when I first moved in that’s what they found out I don’t know what else I found out about the house but this is what I live in a piss poor maintenance man that does nothing hello landlord in Florida so if you can help me in any way please let me know what I should do

  2. I live in apartment when I was dishes in the sink the water back up in dishwasher and have apartment smelling maintenance has came 3 times and only drain water can I break my lease also one bedroom stay cold in winter and hot in summer had to buy a heater and a fan

  3. My dishwasher has been a struggle since I moved in. At first it was filled with water, something had prevented it from draining for months. As a result of that, it was covered in mold. I cleaned it about six times before it was usable again. After three months, it’s stopped working completely, and I need to get it fixed, or replaced. Is it generally worth it to fix a dishwasher, or is that something you just replace when it breaks down?

  4. We have been living in our house that we rent for 18 months. Our dishwasher stopped working about 5 months in. So our dishwasher has not worked for 13 months. We brought it to her attention and she informed us that when we get caught up on rent which at the time we owed $400, that she will fix it then. Is there anything I can do as far as back charge her for us doing dishes by hand, when our place came with a working dishwasher originally. We pay $1200 per month in rent and feel we are entitled to pay less or charge her for our loss of time doing dishes for over a year. Am I wrong or is she?. What can be done?

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