Finding an affordable apartment to rent in Los Angeles is hard enough. It’s even harder to find one that’s both affordable and has a fridge. But why?
LA Times writer Liam Dillon wrote about the phenomenon and said it’s more than just an anecdote, and he found statistics to back it up. Through census analysis, Dillon says, “they found that in California, fewer apartments have refrigerators than anywhere else in the country.”
Dillon also spoke with rental company Apartments.com who made similar findings locally. In their analysis of LA and Orange County apartments before the pandemic, he says they found that “there are fewer apartments with refrigerators than two dozen other major metropolitan areas across the country.”
So what is the cause? Dillon says it comes down to California law. “California law qualifies or classifies refrigerators as “amenities,” [which are] not required by habitability standards,” Dillon says.
He adds, “When I’ve spoken to long-time property owners and managers, they’ve been like, ‘Look, if we don’t have to do this, we won’t. It’s an additional expense.’ » Especially with the maintenance of refrigerators which can break down and require repairs, they can add additional costs for the owner.
Beyond the cost of renting or buying a fridge, Dillon has spoken with tenants who have had difficulty moving the appliance around an apartment. For example, a tenant moving to Los Angeles from the Bay Area decided to purchase a used refrigerator from a local “refrigerator dealer” because he was well aware of the city’s refrigerator desert. But things didn’t go as planned.
Dillon says, “Everything was working great, until he came back to his new apartment and realized, ‘Oh no, all I have is a skater dolly. How am I going to get this fridge off the U-haul [and] in my apartment ? »
The tenant begged people on the street to help him, which worked until he discovered that the fridge was too big to fit in the lobby of the building. He eventually left the fridge in the hall overnight until he could come back the next day to remove the doors and bring it to his new apartment.
Dillon says tenants often don’t think about the logistics and complications of trying to fit such a big and heavy device into an apartment. For example, tenants forget to think about the direction in which the refrigerator doors open so as not to block access to other things in the kitchen.
But Dillon says the trend of fridgeless apartments in Los Angeles is starting to change. “I was talking to a property manager who said she thinks it’s partly because tenants are saying, ‘Look, we’ve looked at new builds and they come with fridges’. And so if landlords want to be competitive, they have to.