Business & Investment

Why do so many LA apartments come without a refrigerator?

This month, when Michael Maloney was about to move to an apartment in Highland Park, he created a list of essentials. He wanted to live a little further away from restaurants and coffee shops. He needed off-street parking and affordable rent.

There was only one problem.

“Two of my best options weren’t refrigerators,” lamented 43-year-old Maloney, who works in the marketing of a beverage company. She said, “It’s ridiculous. That’s the most negative thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t wrap my heart.”

Maloney faced the cold truth common to many renters in Southern California. Apartments here often lack a refrigeratorHas pushed many tenants into the underground refrigerator economy and, as far as we all remember, has chilled Angelenos’ nutrition for generations.

At any given time, hundreds of ads for used refrigerators will appear on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and apps that list items for sale. Residents give old refrigerators to those who move after them — Winwin that no one has to carry 6 feet, 250 pounds of appliances around the city. The landlord leases the model for an additional fee.

Lucky lessors with extra cash can opt out of used fridge games and go to Best Buy or Home Depot to deliver new ones.

How LA became a fridgeless anomaly is one of the region’s most mysterious and least enjoyable eccentricities. Extremely long street parking sign Also Frigid day on the beach in June..

Long-standing lessors, landlords, appliance store owners, and real estate managers don’t know exactly how that happened. But I did.

California has more apartments without refrigerators than any other state, according to US Census data processed at The Times’ request by the National Multifamily Housing Council, a Washington, DC-based landlord industry group. Pre-pandemic rentals offered by also show that LA and Orange County have the fewest number of apartments with refrigerators in the approximately 20 metropolitan areas across the country.

“Los Angeles is a wonderful and unique place,” said Jim Rapides, a spokesman for the National Multifamily Housing Council. “For some reason, this is one of the habits of personality. Sometimes people have pink stripes on their hair. Maybe someone likes to wear Dr. Martens. This is a market-set flare. It’s just an additional layer of. “

Even those who seem to have manipulated the fridge economy often get worse due to wear. A careless deliveryman rubs the floor of the apartment. The door handle is opening in the wrong direction, blocking the entrance to the kitchen. In the most frustrating situation, tenants would buy a refrigerator that wouldn’t fit in the space cut out in the wall and start the process over, but now they need additional appliances to get rid of it.

It was the first time he saw an apartment without a fridge when Josh Steichmann joined his current wife from Michigan in Los Angeles 15 years ago. They ended up living in Palms and spent weeks looking for Palms. He said all the used refrigerators they found in the consumer electronics store “smelled like death” and the Craigslist search was empty. They relied on putting a bag of ice in the cooler until Steichmann’s wife thought about going through the Yellow Page.

There, they found a dealer for their refrigerator: a man with a truck that happened to be nearby. They bought one from him for hundreds of dollars.

Steichmanns’ current two-bedroom apartments in Los Feriz also did not have a refrigerator. But the idea of ​​moving what they had in Palms across the town when they weren’t sure they would fit in the new location wasn’t a beginner. They sold the fridge to a group of college students on Craigslist and were overjoyed when a former tenant of Ross Feliz left the old one.

Refrigerator lights burn out quickly no matter how many times you replace them, but the peace of mind that you don’t have to look for other appliances is more important than the hassle.

“For what we need, it works well,” said Steichmann, 42, a tall white general electric model in the kitchen. “It keeps the food cold. You don’t need anything flashy. I’m not a” fridge guy. ” “

Steichmann with a well-stocked refrigerator in his apartment in Los Feliz.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Just over three-quarters of Southern California’s list in the survey had refrigerators, which probably exaggerates that case. Data is limited to a complex of 20 units or more, and according to real estate managers, the most common refrigerator-less apartments are small buildings owned by moms and pop landlords. One real estate manager said that about half of the 500 units in LA do not provide appliances.

The simplest answer to why Los Angeles landlords don’t provide a fridge is that they don’t have to.

California law does not require refrigerators to be included in rental units and instead classifies them as “amenity”. Not required to meet habitability standards.. “It’s like a bathtub,” Maloney said incredibly.

Deena Eberly, managing director of the Eberly Company, which manages 4,200 apartments in LA County, says buying and maintaining a refrigerator was an extra expense that the landlord didn’t want. Everly said the tenants would complain that they had just gone to the grocery store and requested a refund when they broke.

“It has always been food responsibility,” said Everly, a family who owns and operates rental properties in Los Angeles since the 1920s. “That was the thought process behind it.”

It’s a different story in New York. Refrigerators are not explicitly mentioned in state law, but several Courts of Appeals have cited the lack of appliances when accusing the landlord of maintaining an uninhabitable apartment.

But legal reasons alone cannot explain the relative shortage of refrigerators in Southern California. Other large states like Florida and Texas also don’t need a refrigerator, but apartments are standard equipment.

Economists have expressed embarrassment that LA is relatively lacking in complementary cold air. The two interviewed by the Times suggested that the subject was worthy of a graduate dissertation. Ingrid Gould Ellen, faculty director at New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, argued that the economic concept of “multiple equilibria” could be working.

The basic idea is that the small things that occur in the early creation of the market will proliferate and settle. For example, in the 1950s, appliances became so essential that some LA landlords didn’t provide a refrigerator, while others followed. A trend is born.

“If every other house had a fridge, no one would want to rent a house without a fridge,” Ellen said. “But if rentals usually don’t provide refrigerators, another market will develop.”

For whatever reason, California’s refrigerator habits are well known in the rental industry. Invitation Homes, the country’s largest single-family home leasing company, does not provide refrigerators for its 12,000 homes in California, with nearly 83,000 properties primarily in the south and west, and market demands. Company spokesperson. She said Invitation Homes supplies appliances in all 11 other states they operate.

Tenants from elsewhere in California, like tenants from outside the state, explain the embarrassment of LA’s refrigerator situation.

About five years ago, Redasabashi moved out of the Bay Area and found a three-bedroom in Sherman Oaks for $ 2,000 a month. The equivalent with a fridge costs over $ 500, so he took it.

“I thought at first [the landlord] It may bring it later, “said 33-year-old Sabashi.

Sabassi rented a U hall and moved in a day. He arranged in advance to buy a used fridge (a wide stainless steel Samsung with two doors and a water dispenser), and initially thought he planned accordingly. He unloaded all his belongings, drove to pick up the fridge from the dealer, and loaded it into the U-Hall.

But when Sabashi returned to his apartment, he realized he had a problem. He had to carry the fridge only on the skater trolley, and he was afraid he might lose control if he tried to roll the fridge on the ramp of the truck with it.

With the truck parked in the middle of the road, Sabashi was waiting to find a stranger. And I learned another habit in a part of Los Angeles and waited … There are no people on the street.. He took a picture when the dusk turned twilight. The light in the U hall was illuminating the refrigerator.

Refrigerator behind the truck

Redasabashi refrigerator ready to move to his new apartment in Sherman Oaks 5 years ago.


A few hours later, my neighbor went out and smoked. The man had previously rejected him, but now he is sympathetic. Neighbors pushed the fridge down the slope while Sabashi put his weight on his back.

But his sadness didn’t end there. When he operated the fridge inside the building, Sabashi noticed that it was too big to go from the lobby to his apartment. He called a friend who advised him that he needed to remove the fridge door.

“I knew I couldn’t sleep in my apartment without food in the fridge,” Sabashi said. “I wanted to have breakfast the next day.”

However, when there were no tools and the time was late, Sabashi gave up and put the refrigerator in the lobby. The next day, his friend came and helped him remove the door and move to a new apartment.

When the fridge broke a year later, Sabashi delivered a new one.

“I said,’I’m not dealing with this anymore,'” he said.

There are signs that LA’s refrigerator culture may be changing. Everly, a longtime property manager, said more and more landlords are offering refrigerators as tenants want them.

According to her, the shift began in the aftermath of the Great Recession 15 years ago. Luxury condominiums have begun to spring up We offer many benefits. To compete, the landlord of the old complex decided to buy a refrigerator and raise the rent.

“Tenants want to step into turnkey units,” Everly said. “They don’t want to deal with the hassle. They want their fridge. They want their washing machine / dryer. But they are willing to pay the price. I am. “

As its prices get higher and higher, some LA tenants lose the gnawing perception that they may be refrigerator owners forever, but never homeowners.

“It’s a chore of all unpaid home-owned appliances,” said Steichmann, who works as a freelance writer and coffee roaster.

Maloney, an apartment hunter at Highland Park, is a one-bedroom on the second floor of a two-story courtyard complex with a $ 1,700 / month covered parking lot, but no refrigerator.

To facilitate the move, he gave himself a two-week overlap between leaving his old location and moving to a new location.

“I don’t know where to buy the fridge,” Maloney said. “You went to Craigslist, but I don’t know if the fridge was in someone’s garage. Did they have dead animals there? I don’t know.”

Indignant Maloney decided to go to the Home Depot on Sunday afternoon. He invested $ 300 in a small new stainless steel refrigerator with a guarantee. He had it delivered on the same day.

Why do so many LA apartments come without a refrigerator? Why do so many LA apartments come without a refrigerator?

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