Are Portable Washing Machines Allowed in Apartments?

By PropertyClub Team
May 26th 2024
Ever wish you had an in-unit washer and dryer in your apartment? We'll let you know everything there is to know about getting a portable washing machine or dryer, from what you can expect to pay to what to look for in your lease.

One of the most convenient amenities in any apartment building is having onsite laundry. However, no matter how convenient it is to have laundry in your building, nothing beats having a washer and dryer installed right within your apartment.

While most landlords do not offer in-unit washer and dryers, it's relatively common for tenants to install their own washer and dryers, including portable ones (with and without) their landlord's permission. Portable washing machines are great for apartments without hookups as they are easy to install and often don't violate your lease terms. 

In any event, before you jump up and install a portable one or install a regular washer and dryer, be sure you understand whether or not your building even allows them in the first place.

hash-markIs it Illegal to Install a Portable Washing Machine in Your Apartment?

No, it's not illegal to install a portable washing machine in your apartment, but it might be a violation of your lease. In most states the law won't even prevent you from installing a full size washer and dryer, but many leases will include a clause that requires you to get landlord permission for any major work you do in the apartment and installing a machine that needs venting or hookups can be a problem. 

However, you can usually install a portable washing machine unless it's specifically prohibited in your lease. 

hash-markWhy Buy a Portable Washing Machine?

If you live in an apartment that doesn't have washer/dryer hookups or the apartment can't accommodate installing a regular washer and dryer, you may want to consider installing a portable machine. Their compact style makes them ideal for apartments and small spaces.

Additionally, portable washing machines are typically less than half the capacity of a full-size washing machine, which means you can save money on utilities. A portable washing machine can be a smart investment if you have a newborn baby who uses washable cloth diapers etc.

Lastly, if you are a frequent mover like many younger tenants, you could use a portable washer because they are easy to move and even easier to set up as you move from apartment to apartment.

hash-markFirst, What does your lease say?

Because there have been times where tenants have installed a washing machine, your landlord may have already prohibited this practice in your lease.

Additionally, while there is no dispute that washers are convenient for tenants, it does increase water usage and utility costs. As such, if your landlord is responsible for paying the utilities you may have an issue. Specifically, the water bill, or less commonly the electricity can increase if you install a portable washer and your landlord will not appreciate the extra cost associated with a washing machine.

Check with your board or building

A significant number of buildings (i.e., rentals, co-ops, and condos) do not allow washer/dryers in their units, and this includes portable ones. While a limited number of condos and coops will allow them to be installed, it is usually on a case-by-case basis. If management or the board doesn't allow the installation of washers/dryers, there is usually a good reason for that.

Landlords are often concerned with overflows. Specifically, if the washing machine malfunctions, backups, or floods, it could potentially damage the apartments below, which is a liability to the landlord and will cost them money.

Additionally, bother portable and regular full-size washers make noise and vibrate. As such, the noise could possibly become a nuisance to your neighbors, especially in buildings with poor insulation.

Depending on the capacity of your building's water heater, the loss of hot or cold water can also occur if you are using a portable washer or have installed a washer and dryer, which is yet another nuisance for your neighbors. Further, sometimes the pipes in older buildings are unable to handle the extra water created by washing machines. This becomes a problem because apartment units typically share drainage pipes with adjacent units.

To combat these issues, many buildings require that a containment pan be installed under the washer together with a shut-off valve or an overflow sensor.

hash-markHow Much Will you Spend on a Portable Washer and Dryer?

Installing a washer and dryer in your apartment can cost up to $6,000. Of course, these installation costs include the expenses associated with installing new plumbing lines and in the electrical upgrades that may be required. Typically, if you can take advantage of any existing lines within the apartment, you can expect to pay half of that amount to install a washer and dryer as far as the cost of actually purchasing a washer and dryer, be prepared to pay anywhere from $1,500 to $2000 for a stackable apartment size washer and dryer.

Portable machines run under $500. However, you can expect to pay up to $3000 For a higher-end washer and dryer. Overall, the best advice is to purchase the highest quality washing dryer that fits your budget as this is a long term investment that you will probably be able to take with you.