Apartments in Los Angeles are frequently rented without refrigerators and nobody can really figure out why
· May 19, 2022 ·

Those of us who rent apartments are familiar with being bummed out over a spot's lack of amenities—no offstreet parking, utilities aren't included, what have you.

But what about... no refrigerator? A refrigerator seems like a pretty basic part of any functioning 21st century domicile, doesn't it?

Not in Los Angeles!

Apartments [in L.A.] frequently lack refrigerators, pushing many tenants into an underground fridge economy that, for as long as anyone can remember, has chilled the sustenance of generations of Angelenos.

On any given day, hundreds of ads for used fridges fill Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and apps listing items for sale. Tenants pass down old refrigerators to the people moving in after them — a win-win where no one has to lug a 6-foot, 250-pound appliance around the city. Landlords lease models for an extra fee.

Lucky renters with extra cash can opt out of the used-fridge game and go to Best Buy or Home Depot and get a new one delivered.

Yeah I'm not sure there's such a thing as a "lucky renter" in Los Angeles, where the average tenant drops $3,000 for a one-bedroom apartment. But imagine paying all of that cash and finding out that you're going to have to store your bacon in a cooler!

But why? Why on earth is it hard to find a refrigerator in Los Angeles apartments?

Longtime renters, landlords, appliance store owners and property managers don't know exactly how it happened. But it did.

Isn't someone looking into this??

Apparently it's actually not required by law in California to provide a fridge in rental spaces (shocking when you think of how many random laws Cali has, really).

So that explains it, right? Landlords aren't forced to do it, so many of them don't. Case closed.

Well, not quite:

California law does not require refrigerators to be included in rental units, instead classifying them as "amenities" that aren't necessary to meet habitability standards.

...But legal reasons alone do not explain Southern California's relative dearth of refrigerators. Other large states like Florida and Texas do not require fridges either, but they come standard with apartments.

This is a true national mystery. But honestly, in this case, the simplest solution might be the best:

Economists expressed befuddlement at L.A.'s comparative lack of complimentary chill. Two interviewed by The Times suggested that the subject was worthy of a graduate school thesis. Ingrid Gould Ellen, faculty director at the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, posited that the economic concept of "multiple equilibria" might be at play.

Basically, the idea is that small things that happen in the early creation of a market proliferate and become entrenched: In the 1950s, say, a few big L.A. landlords don't provide Frigidaires as the appliances are becoming essential, others follow suit and a trend is born.

Ahhh, so the explanation basically runs along the lines of, "Everyone else was doing it!"

Yet another reason, if you needed one, to consider not moving to Los Angeles!

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