The One Question All The Smartest Renters Ask Before Moving In

published Jun 18, 2019
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If you’ve ever had to plan your life around trips to the laundromat, you know how life-changing an in-building laundry room can be. (Remember all that money you used to spend buying emergency underwear?) But more often than not, the excitement of easy access to a washer and dryer quickly turns into the reality of your soaking wet laundry heaped on top of a machine because you were five minutes late to switching loads. Gah!

In order to avoid this unwelcome flashback to dorm life, David Eisenberg, a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City, recommends that renters ask one simple question before moving in: “What’s the machine-to-resident ratio?”

Knowing how many units are in the building and how many washers and dryers are available allows you to quickly figure out if the amenity of a laundry room is actually worth the extra rent. For example, if there are 80 units but only four washers and dryers, there could be long wait times come the weekend (not to mention passive aggressive notes from your neighbors).

“If there are not enough laundry units in the building, this can also cause them to be overused and need to be serviced more frequently,” he points out. “If building management is not on top of this, they are more likely to break down, causing even further delays.”

The ideal ratio, according to Eisenberg? One washer and dryer for every five units to the building.

Steve Gottlieb of Warburg Realty in New York City also points out that in-building laundry machines are often smaller than those you would find in a laundromat. Asking if the building has one or two larger machines in addition to the standard-sized machines can be great information if you’d rather not go to the laundromat to wash and dry your bulkier items like comforters, duvets, and winter coats.

If you’re looking at a newer building, also see if the washers and dryers are able to take payments via an app on your smartphone. The “My Magic Pass” app made by SEBCO Laundry Systems Inc., for example, can allow you to reserve machines, send you alerts about the progress of your washing cycle, and let you know when washing and drying machines are available, says Alan Levy of Warburg Realty.

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