This rental does NOT come with a guarantee!

Check this out!  We just had this situation come up today.

The tenant sent in a maintenance request last Friday (the Friday before the Veteran’s Day long weekend).  We responded that day saying we would send out a maintenance tech on Wednesday afternoon of the following week to look at (and probably replace) the refrigerator.

A few appointment perturbations later we replace the refrigerator a little earlier than expected — on Wednesday morning.  Job done, right?  We can go back feeling good because we helped a tenant get a new fridge.  Makes the job all worthwhile, doesn’t it?

On Thursday we get an email from the tenant thanking us for the new fridge.  She then goes on to recite chapter and verse the Residential Code of Washington (RCW – commonly known as the Landlord-Tenant Law).   She says she lost $100 worth of food and then tacks on another $246 in ‘per diem charges’, and asks for a total of $346.

Now there is gratitude for ya – wrapped up in a nice brown box and shoved somewhere where the sun won’t shine!

Chapter 59.18.070 of the RCW states that the landlord has 72 hours to ‘commence remedial action’.  So after consulting with our attorney I wrote the tenant back explaining that we commenced remedial action within one hour of her sending the request!   I also expressed my condolences over the lost food and inconvenience.  End of story…or at least I hop so.

But here is the kicker.  How did we get to this double standard where everything in a rental is guaranteed?  When our refrigerator goes out and we lose food, is someone going to kick in the for the lost food?  I understand that as owners we have more control over when the fridge gets replaced than the tenant.

But that doesn’t automatically extend a right to guarantee!  Maybe I am missing something, but as far as I am concerned we warned the tenant it could be a few days and gave her ample warning to make other accommodations.


Peter Nelson is President of Full Service Property Management, a Seattle-based property management firm serving homes, multi-plexes, condos, townhouses, and apartments.  He has been a landlord for over 28 years.  He can be found at

This stuff drives me wild!  Americans!  There is no guarantee!  Stuff happens.  Learn to live with it (rather than running to your lawyer)!!  It’ll make living life a LOT easier on all of us.

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