Garbage Disposal for Rental Units

by Carol

The Bone Crusher - Garbage Disposal

The Bone Crusher - Garbage Disposal

We are remodeling a 40 year old condo that is on the third floor.

This will be a low end rental unit.

Should we put a garbage disposal in?

There is currently a garbage disposal in place but the building inspector said it was not mandatory to have a kitchen disposal to pass code.

Your opinions?

Answer by Joe Trometer:

Hi Carol,

Thanks for asking this question.
I was faced with a similar choice whether or not to install garbage disposals on several occasions.

Here's my landlord view:

"If I can't charge more rent for it,
or it's breakable and causes me maintenance,
I don't install it."
by Joe Trometer

Now for my detailed explanation...

If the building inspector or building code does not make an improvement mandatory,
then it's my choice to spend the extra money and time on unnecessary remodeling materials.

I think it is a natural feeling with home remodeling to do the best job, with the best materials we can afford, however,

on a low-end rental unit, spending extra money on needless improvements rarely gives us a Return On Investment (ROI).

Return On Investment For Installing A Garbage Disposal

The cost of a 1/4hp garbage disposal is in the $100.00 dollar range.

In the photo above, a 3/4 hp kitchen sink disposal is closer to $300.00.

If you're a do-it-yourself landlord like me,
there won't be additional costs for the plumbing installation but,
there may be an extra permit fee from the building inspector included in your overall kitchen makeover.

In addition to the plumbing work, the electrical may have to be updated with a Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) plug receptacle.
Here again; extra work and or Building Inspections from the Electrical Inspector.

Labor Cost or Time for Labor

Electricians and Plumbers range from $50.00 to $150.00 per hour.
Minimum charge I think would be safe to say, would be $100.00 each.
That's if your Skilled Trade or Handy Person is just doing the one installation.

On the low end, a handy(wo)man could be in and out for $25.00 and do the whole job.

I'm not concerned with my time with do-it-yourself projects because it's what I enjoy.
So figure your own time involvement for your kitchen repairs or replacements.

Improving The Lifestyle Of A Renter

This is the big one...

Remodeling improvements beyond the minimum for rental units does not mean the renter will take care of the nicer and more expensive building materials installed!

Think about that last sentence for a minute.

I base many if not all my decisions on that sentence.

I'm thinking ROI...

I will use the more expensive materials on my apartment renovations when,
and only when,
the maintenance of that improvement makes my job easier during tenant turnover,
and has a longer life expectancy for the materials.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance

Here is why I would not install a garbage disposal on a low end rental unit.

Technically it's a "Food Waste Disposer!"

There's usually a kitchen waste can within arms reach of the kitchen sink.
Many times there's room for a small garbage receptacle under the sink.

So, using the kitchen drain for food waste
becomes convenient... At a price.

The more the garbage down the drain will eventually cause the disposal to break or get stuck with a piece of silverware or a T-Bone steak bone... Don't laugh, I've seen this happen.
That's why I call the 3/4 hp size in the photo above, "The Bone Crusher."

Would you believe;
that a renter could use a broken disposer,
a plugged sink trap,
or a plugged drain pipe, (3-floors is a lot of drain pipe)
as an excuse not to pay the rent?

A minimum Plumber's service-call to take a teaspoon out of the disposer could be $100.00.

The renter could call at anytime it inconveniences you to report the problem.

Okay, you got me going...

Bottom line, is it convenient for you over the long term?

Like I say...

"If I can't charge more rent for it,
or it's breakable and causes me maintenance,
I don't install it." by Joe Trometer

I wouldn't do it!
Spend the extra $100 or more and treat yourself to something nice
for all your landlording efforts:~)

Hope this helps you some Carol,

All the best to you,

Joe Trometer

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Install the Garbage Disposal In Your Rental Units
by: Anonymous

I agree that a garbage disposal will not be enough of an improvement that it will generate higher rent, and I agree that a garbage disposal is bound to require maintenance, but you are not addressing the costs of NOT having a disposal.

Debris is going to end up in the sink no matter what (especially in a rented home where the renters don't care) and this is eventually going to clog the sink at any point in the day.

If a renter demands free rent because the disposal doesn't work then surely they'd say the same if their sink doesn't work.

I've been in the employee kitchens of a number of businesses where there is no disposal and there is always some big sign alerting people not to dispose of food down the sink.

The only reason these signs exist is because of how common the problem is and how expensive it is to correct. How is it not cheaper in the long run to simply add a disposal? It seems like at the very worst the costs would be a wash.

I've changed out a disposal and it was relatively easy, but I've never unclogged a kitchen sink so I have no idea how complicated that would be or if it would require special tools.


Reply by Joe Trometer:

Great view points!

It's very helpful to hear from you as a professional or have experience in a specific area of home remodeling and or being a landlord.

I am confident your comments will help our Rehabber's Community - Thank you.

There are always beginners in real estate investing and first time home buyers too.

Even with decades of experience in rehabbing homes and remodeling apartments I refer to these forums for reminders and tips for remodeling as I plan out my next home remodel strategy.

Your questions, thoughts, and opinions are important to all of us... Many thanks for posting.

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