If you are a homeowner, you likely have a garbage disposer. You may use it all the time. In a rental, it is a different story. It can be a constant maintenance item, it can leak, need to be replaced, or just plain smell bad.
Here is what I recommend on a garbage disposer in a rental property.
Garbage Disposers Are Not Necessary
There was a time when there was no such thing as a garbage disposer. People gave the scraps to the dog, threw them in a compost pile, or put the food out for any critters in the back yard. They may have just put it in the burning barrel. A garbage disposer was not even invented before 1927. As far back as 2009, only 50% of household had them. In Europe and Canada, they are virtually non-existent. New York city has even banned them.
For some reason, people think they are a necessity now. Think again if you are a landlord.
The Garbage Disposer can be an Emergency Fix
A disposer that is not working might be considered an emergency fix. If the sink still drains, it is not an emergency. If the disposer is clogged, it can be considered an emergency. It would be like any other sink drain clean out, it cannot sit for too long. The disposer may not be working, and a lot of food was put in it, so now you have an emergency.
You need to clean out the disposer, replace it, or hire a plumber to do it. It may be your expense, or the tenants. Either way, it is your headache and you need to deal with it.
Renters do not Rent, or not rent, because a Garbage Disposer
Across hundreds of showings in my units, I have never found that having a garbage disposer, or not, made any difference in the rent-ability of my apartments. I have had a couple of prospects inquire about the lack of a disposer, but they did not make the decision to rent or not based on the presence, or not, of one. Most renters do not even think about it.
I have told anyone that asked, “If that is a deal breaker, I will put one in”. I can put in a garbage disposer for less than $100, having a plumber do it would cost $250+. It might be worth putting one in as a one-time spiff to a solid tenant. It can be taken out very easily too. Spending $100 and about an hour of work to sign up a solid tenant is a worthwhile investment for your money.
The City Sanitary Sewer Department doesn’t want a garbage disposer
Call your Cities sanitation department and ask them what they think of a garbage disposer. The ones I have spoken with do not like them. They send too much food down the drain, and use a lot of water. A disposer encourages tenants to put grease down the drain, another bad item.
Garbage disposers require using a lot of water, which typically cost the landlord more in water bills. Get rid of the disposer!
Garbage Disposer and Kids do not mix
I am not worried about a kid’s hands in a garbage disposer. If you are a parent you should be.
Kids do not respect the fragility of a garbage disposer. They put anything down the drain. Plastic, small rocks, toys, scrub pads, utensils, etc. all go into the disposer. Any one of those things can kill the garbage disposer.
I have seen a garbage disposer with aquarium gravel in it. Only a few small pieces will kill the disposer altogether. The parent dumped most of the gravel elsewhere, but a few very small pieces were in the aquarium and got rinsed down the drain into the disposer. The small rocks got jammed inside, and the unit refused to turn. A new garbage disposer, and 30 minutes of labor, was needed.
Fixing a Garbage Disposal
If the disposer still spins you may be able to fix it. A shop vacuum can be used to suck out small bones, rocks, plastic and other noisy items from a garbage disposer. If the disposer does not spin, you are likely looking at a replacement.
You can fix a leak by tightening the plumbing fittings that lead to and from the garbage disposer. If the disposer itself is leaking, you are likely looking at a replacement.
If you do not have a garbage disposer, you will never need to fix it. Remove it between tenants to remove the possibility of that maintenance ’emergency’.
How to Plan the Removal
Get rid of the garbage disposer after a tenant leaves! It will save you maintenance and water. If the tenant moves in with a disposer, you should fix or replace the unit if it goes bad. Once the tenant moves out, remove it right away. That means taking out a perfectly good (for now) disposer. Give it away on Craig’s or throw it away.
At first, you will not want to take it out, but you will save money in the long run.
Do you have a garbage disposer? Have you ever had issues with one? If you were renting, would having a garbage disposer be a deal breaker for you?