Renting Well Blog

Coin-Operated Laundry For Tenants

Whatever you’re doing… stop. We need to talk about something important.

Laundry.

Everyone does it. Some of us are ashamed by it. Some of us do it in private. Whatever way you do it, it’s essential to both you and those that rent from you. The greater point I’m making here is that planning to put coin-operated laundry into a rental unit is a good idea, but don’t do it with an unrealistic expectation of on the immediate return-on-investment. Before you delve into the double-barrelled goodness of laundry machines that run on spare change, consider a few things…

Coin-operated laundry machines are best suited for multi-family properties — as in technically a duplex or more — but in my view they’re really much better suited to 4 units or more. You’re not going to put one into a single family unit because that’s tacky (think about it for a second). That kind of tackiness can put tenants off. Would you raise your eyebrow a bit if you were looking at a single family unit and noticed that the landlord had a coin-operated washer and dryer IN the unit? It kind of gives a bit of a weird and cheap impression. Common laundry rooms are better — areas that can be accessed by multiple tenants, with a likelihood of heavy use, and ideally on a separate meter from the rest of the units (it’s easier to manage and observe the utility expense).

On-site laundry is a convenience for existing and future tenants, and should be considered a feature when marketing the property and when you’re considering investing in one. Laundry facilities count as one of the most popular amenities renters look for, so adding one to your property is generally considered a positive long-term investment. It makes marketing vacancies a little easier, increases the chances of finding the tenants you’re looking for, and adds appraisal value to your property (as a result of the added amenity and the added income).

With that said, there’s an ongoing cost associated with running them utility-wise, and they can obviously breakdown and require repair. It’s possible you might not see a positive cash flow vs. the monthly expense if only two or 4 people are using the machines. The utility costs could outweigh the revenue you have coming in. That’s why I suggest 4 units and above as there’s a higher likelihood you’ll have the laundry volume and revenue — which in turn increases the likelihood of a positive cashflow on the investment and improves the chances of recouping on the machines sooner. However, numbers aside, even if you don’t enjoy positive cashflow from a laundry room it’s still a good idea to have the facilities on-site.

One other thing – it doesn’t have to be coin operated laundry. There’s a variety of alternative laundry solutions that you could consider as a landlord as well, like card operated laundry machines. 

Have you invested in a laundry room? Share your stories with us.

 

Author: Chris Saracino

Chris is a co-founder of Renting Well and heads up our marketing and communication efforts. He's also the landlord of two buildings and 8 units in Ottawa, Ontario.

Comments

  1. QUESTION: Is it legal for a landlord to have coin operated laundry machines if the tenant is paying utilities? To complicate the situation I live in a duplex (sort of). The landlord made (assumingly) an illegal partition for their son to live on the other side of the house. My wife and I actually pay 2/3 utilities while he (and his girlfriend/friends- not sure exactly how many ppl sleep there) pay 1/3. It’s annoying.

  2. Thanks for the question Mike. So a couple of things here….

    To answer your question, it is legal for a landlord to have a coin operated laundry in a rental property even if the tenant is paying the utilities. I’m assuming the landlord disclosed that the laundry machines are running on your meter and you agreed to this?

    This set up isn’t ideal – with coin op laundry that you’re effectively paying the hydro bill on. Clearly, you have issues with this arrangement and I would recommend bringing this up with your landlord in a reasonable and articulate way. It’s in the landlord’s interest to address your issue. Curious though – what’s the arrangement? How do you and your wife pay for 2/3rds of the bill? Do you get the bill and just pay your portion? Are there two bills? Sounds kind of complicated….

  3. Thanks for your reply, Chris.

    My wife and I pay 2/3 because our side has two bed rooms and his has one. There is only one bill.

    While I have your attention, I have another question: Their son, our neighbor, also smokes pot constantly and the smell always seems to go through into our side as the intake is on his side. Our side, however, has the thermostat while his doesn’t. Not sure if this is legal. Do both units need separate central air units?

    Sorry to hijack your thread!

  4. Hey Mike,

    Glad to answer your questions. My aim is to be impartial here, and I’m prefacing the answer to your question with the fact that I am hearing your side of the story, and not the landlord’s. While I’m glad to offer my two cents, it’s not a full understanding of any arrangement or history with your tenancy. There’s a bunch of questions here – are the units legal? How long have you lived there? Did your landlord propose the arrangement with the 2/3rds bill? Has it always been this way? Have you discussed the marijuana wafting with your neighbour? Is your landlord aware of how much weed his kid smokes? Is the landlord aware that the weed plumes are coming in to your apartment? FYI – if something is bugging you about your living arrangements, and is within reason of being changed, you have as much of an obligation to bring this up with your landlord as he/she does to address it. Don’t sit on it – say something. I encourage my tenants to communicate with me, especially when there are issues that need to be ironed out. I can tell you that I’d certainly like to know about it before it becomes something everyone is resentful about.

    There doesn’t have to be a thermostat in every unit. I know plenty of landlords have who multi families with a single thermostat that happens to be in only one of the tenant’s units. It does make things tricky when attempting to decide on a comfortable environment for everyone, but it’s more typical than you think. Many legal duplexes and triplexes in Canada were at some point a single family home. As such, they’re vented as single houses. It’s not a requirement for units to be vented separately.

    It sounds like you have a lot of issues to contend with there. I’d certainly find it awkward to be living beside my landlord’s kid. I’d find it even more awkward to find out that he smokes more pot than Cheech and Chong. The thought of gingerly knocking on my landlord’s door and attempting to have that conversation would induce anxiety in anyone.

  5. Thank you, Mike for your question, and Chris for your answer. I landed on your page for this exact question. I pay utilities and coin operated laundry (though this is a 50+ apartment building). The rate to do one load of laundry just went up (almost $4 a load!) and it made me curious at why I’m paying to do laundry and utilities. Thinking of what I pay helps with maintenance makes a lot of sense, but I’m still going to ask for a breakdown of how much, if any of the laundry room’s utilities get factored into my portion of utilities.

  6. Hi Kat,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m assuming there’s a common laundry area in your apartment building – for all 50+ units? Is there? Reading your comment again is making me think that there’s a coin operated laundry IN your unit…so now I’m curious…

    You think $4 a load (wash/dry) is expensive? Typical rates across Canada in most laundromats are as follows:

    $1.75 – $2.00 for a regular washer (per load)
    $3.25 – $4.00 for an extra large washer (per load)
    50 cents for 15 minutes dryer time

  7. I was wondering if it is legal to have a coin op washer and free dryer that is inside my house and have me paying for all of the electric even though the other houses on the property are also allowed access to the washer and dryer. My bill has been over $300 now and all of our houses run on different meters even though the laundry is put on mine.

  8. I have a home rented to five college students all on their own individual lease (they basically rent their room and the common area). They are all part of a sports team on campus and essentially are placed by the coach at our house. The house isn’t university owned. Over the years tenants have left fridges and washer and dryers as well as furniture to the next guy moving in. The washer and dryer just died and we removed it. Must we replace the washer and dryer? If we replace it can we put in a coin op? We pay for water and sewer, but not gas or electric.

  9. Hi Alannah,

    Yes – it’s legal. Was this set up indicated on your lease? Have you tried discussing this with your landlord?

  10. I live in a Triplex currently, I am the only tenant of the three required to pay hydro. The Washer is Coin-Op but the dryer isn’t, our landlord is charging EACH unit an additional $15.00 on their rent to cover the cost of the non Coin-op Dryer, is this right, or a better word legal? Are they allowed to charge us for it?

  11. Hi Melissa,

    In short – yes it is legal. Could you give me a few more specifics in relation to the situation? Is there a single hydro meter? 3 hydro meters? 4?

  12. There are three meters, the tenants previously lived with different landlords, I came in when the new landlords took over. I pay more than the unit below me despite it being larger, I pay hydro, and an additional $15 for laundry.

  13. I live in a multi home for 3 years and found out that the coin luangdry unit is being used on my electrical unit while others teandent are using is this illegal

  14. Is it legal to have coin op washer and dryer in a deluxe we live in the basement and pay 1000 a month plus lights. He have to come in our door to collect the coins.

  15. Hi Mike,
    I rent a room to a tenant in Maryland. We share the common areas of the house. She does laundry almost every day. The water bill went from $47 before she moved in to $133 after. The electric bill has also increased from the dryer usage. I asked her to reduce her washing, but I have noticed that she just does laundry when I am not home (I can tell from the electric bill charts.). Can I legally put a lock on the laundry room and give her a time period every week to do laundry or put a coin machine on the washer and dryer so that she has to pay for laundry (I am sure that will reduce her usage.)?

    Thanks

  16. No – not illegal. Do you pay the hydro? Did you landlord make you aware of this prior to moving in or signing a lease?

  17. Yes it’s legal – but I don’t understand the question. You pay $1000 a month in rent, plus hydro, and you’re upset because the landlord comes into your unit to collect the coins? Could you clarify, please?

  18. Hi Marie,

    Thanks for your email. What are the terms of the lease? Is this tenant on one? You can technically do whatever you want, including putting a lock on the door and dictating a laundry schedule – but I need some more details.

  19. question. my landlord of 2 years is always “renovating” this house i origanilly agreed (verbally no lease or papers thru his wife not himself) to rent a whole 2 bedroom house with basement storage. it was casually mentioned that “EVENTUALLY” basement appartment would ve constructed as well as an attic office. (i was told “not for a few years thou”) i agreed to move my growing family to this 1200 a month all inclusive home. 6 months later a massive contruction zone exploded around me and my i add quite under the table operation happened. unqualified carpenters (who where drinking alcohol in front of my 2 year old while opperating equipment) and within a week the Landlord’s wife moved her son into a extreamly small attic. then the move down stair happened and i lost my storage as well as began to notice structrual strains and big warning signs instantly appeared threw out my now main floor appartment. terrified of a colapse i notified my landlord who was out of town at the time and was basically pushed aside by his “associate” who was so intoxicated he was swaying while he stood. my landlord returned to inspect the appartment and said it was due to the train yard we are by. then he says that “if we continue that you are the ones who this will not end well for.” (meaning if the building inspector was to come he would evict us.) afraid we let it go. then 2 weeks later he announces he is pulling out mynwasher and dryer and putting a coin operated for no reason except for “dryer runs too much” when i moved i installed my dryer with the prpper venting house for a basement. during his illegal construction he had angry contractors who ripped my hose off the wall. the landlord installed (like so many other things ) the wrong hose to my dryer and now i have to run it twice to dry bed sheets.

    Can he touch my washer even thou i pay all inclusive. and if because of the 2 years i have been here already. he has always said he runs the house that his wife has nothing to do with it. there was a seperate conflict between us ( accusing us and threatening us because she assumed we had another person living here when infact we bought and moved in a fridge to replace the junker they gave us.) does the wife have the right to suddenly increase our internet bill and hover over us constantly while the landlord is away at work? she is always taking her stonned sons (who has by now turn that bachelor attic space into a grow house for his pot in the time that has passed) “word” instead of coming across the street (they litterally live across the street from where we are renting) and see what we are doing. instead she send up threatening text messages and instantly raises an internet bill we pay on the side. basically of he says she doesnt have anything to do with our rental until and she is acting like so does what can i do about that issue? also can i just return their fridge to them like put it in their driveway or does it have to stay here (it did not come with the fridge origanlly)

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