Massachusetts vs. the World: No Stoves Required in California

By Kimberly Rau, MassLandlords Writer

The Massachusetts State Sanitary Code (otherwise known as 105 CMR 40) is pretty clear about what kitchen appliances are required for landlords to provide their tenants.

Massachusetts landlords must provide stoves for their tenants, but that’s not the case in most of the country.
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“Every dwelling unit...shall contain suitable space to store, prepare and serve foods in a sanitary manner,” section 410.100 states. It goes on to list the appliances a landlord must provide: a kitchen sink of adequate size to wash dishes, a stove and oven “in good repair” and “space and proper facilities for the installation of a refrigerator.”

In other words, a tenant in Massachusetts can expect to move into their rental unit and be able to cook dinner that same night if they choose. This applies to standalone rental units as well as “accessory” apartments. The one exception is if the written agreement says the renter must provide the stove. But landlord beware! If the ad does not state “bring your own stove,” or the apartment is shown to a prospective tenant with a stove, and/or a renter is surprised upon lease signing (or after!) that a stove they expected is not there, you will have a 93a lawsuit on your hands. You might win, but why risk it? If you are not going to provide a stove, advertise that. If you aren't keen on advertising that, then treat a stove as required.

Only in Massachusetts

But that’s not the case in other parts of the country. California, for example, has no such law. In fact, Craigslist ads for rooms for rent, expressly stating that “no cooking” is allowed, are perfectly legal. Studio apartments advertised as “fully furnished” may lack stoves and ovens, and still cost $1,500 a month.

The California Health and Safety Code (17920.3) states that tenants must have access to working heat, toilets, and running water. Landlords must also provide a “kitchen sink,” but the code does not define a kitchen and does not specify that tenants must be able to access cooking facilities. It also does not state that landlords must provide refrigerators, something that further limits a tenant’s ability to prepare and store food.

If this seems strange, though, it’s important to point out that many states do not require landlords to provide stoves, ovens or refrigerators. In fact, only six do: Alaska (only stoves and ovens), Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

In six states, landlords must provide these things only if required by the municipality in which the rental unit is located. This includes Connecticut, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina and North Dakota. The remainder of the states either do not address the issue, or do not require landlords to provide these appliances.

Massachusetts is notorious for having high housing costs. But when you compare how much kitchen a renter gets for what they pay in comparison with the rest of the country, it’s not too bad renting in the Bay State.

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