Some Apartments in LA Just… Don’t Come with Fridges! Here’s Why

published Dec 21, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

When her roommate moved out of her Los Angeles apartment, Monya De knew she’d have to replace a few things in her home. (It’s an inevitability whenever there’s a spatial changing of the guards.) Little did she know, De would have to add a major appliance to her shopping list.

“I found it very odd when my roommate took the refrigerator with her,” she shares. “I knew I didn’t want to invest in a brand new one, and remember having to search widely for this odd little shop that sold old refrigerators.”

Turns out, De isn’t the only Angeleno who had to source her own refrigerator from scratch. If you look closely, corners of the internet are clamoring about this strange phenomenon, which has been regarded as “an LA thing.” So, what gives? Why do some rentals come without a fridge? Oftentimes, it boils down to a landlord’s bottom line.

“From an investor perspective, the fridge is just one more thing to maintain,” explains Rick Albert, a broker associate at LAMERICA Real Estate in Los Angeles. “Nowadays, it seems like just having someone come out to look at appliances costs $200 just to show up.”

As if that wasn’t pricey enough, a landlord has to pay for repairs or a brand-new fridge if necessary. (That’s right: a landlord cannot shift that financial responsibility onto their tenants, so they need to take care of leaks and mold if they’re the provider of the fridge.) Albert adds that while this might be no big deal for large management companies that own a bunch of properties, the steep fee could be a considerable expense for smaller, mom-and-pop landlords.

“Their margins are slimmer than what is perceived,” he says. “Therefore, the less they have to be [financially] responsible for, the better.”

I know what you’re thinking: “No refrigerator?! Isn’t that illegal?” Technically, no. According to California law, a refrigerator is actually considered an amenity. While a built-in fridge might be something you’re used to, it’s legally not as essential as, say, a toilet or shower. Since ditching the fridge doesn’t make an apartment uninhabitable, some landlords might believe that less is more.

And, before you ask, the quirky kitchens aren’t just exclusive to Los Angeles. Some San Francisco landlords have included “no cook” clauses into their leases, which mandates that tenants use a hot plate, mini-fridge, microwave, and… that’s about it. When you put it that way, having to find your own fridge doesn’t sound that bad.

If you don’t hail from the Golden State, you might think of a fridge-free apartment as a bit of a bummer — let alone totally bizarre. (You’re not wrong: it is one of the stranger real-estate trends I’ve discovered.) But, according to Albert, many Angelenos are used to this oddity and have jumped on the BYOR bandwagon.

“I always include [refrigerators] in [my listings] to give a sense of completeness for the space — and most tenants seem to appreciate it,” he explains. “However, there are some tenants who are used to this and therefore bring their fridge wherever they go.”

It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Whether you buy a brand-new model or a second-hand option like De did, a fridge is an investment. After all, why buy and sell a refrigerator just to do it all over again when you move?

Oh, and if you’re buying a fridge for the very first time, check out AT’s comprehensive guide to