A look into laundry services in co-ops and condos
It’s 2019, and yet we can’t all live like the Jetsons and have our own Rosie the Robot. Alas, we remain left to our devices to maintain our own upkeep, including doing laundry. Having a laundry room in residential buildings can help with that and poses a convenience for tenants, but not all buildings provide laundry rooms. In order to successfully offer laundry services to residents, building managers must first seek the right laundry facility.
Like any building improvement project, it’s essential to acquire the right team and create a mutually beneficial contract with them. Considering most laundry room contracts last up to five to eight years, the dynamic between buildings and their laundry facility can become a committed relationship—therefore it’s important to choose wisely. In the event that a vendor is chosen, they will take over the space and are at the liberty to refurbish the area, provide furnishings and handle extraneous matters such as liability insurance.
While some buildings are forging agreements with laundry vendors, other buildings are now purchasing their own machines by going directly to laundry contractors. This allows the building to have ownership over how much they want to charge and directly receive the fees as opposed to going through a middleman and gaining only a percentage. In these types of deals, laundry vendors will draw up a service agreement with the building in order to ensure an ongoing income source after the initial purchase is made.
Then there are in-unit laundry amenities. These allow people to wash their clothes at their convenience without worrying about having their belongings either stolen or touched by strangers. However, not all apartments offer such amenities, mostly due to an incident in 1987. Once upon a time, disaster struck at the Museum Tower, and the water expelled from washing machines became too much for the drain pipes to handle and was backed up into vent lines, resulting in leakage onto lower floors. This led to the passing of House Rule 37 in 1994, which forbade unit owners from installing new washer and dryers for fear of irreparable damages incurred upon apartment buildings.
However, over time, it has become apparent that offering residents such a convenient feature in their apartments raises the value and can result in overall efficiency. And with the new generation of washing machines that utilize 10 gallons of water for an entire wash and rinse cycle as opposed to the typical 40 gallons, this has become an appealing endeavor to previously wary building owners. With other advancements like the low-suds detergents that reduce the likelihood of clogging drain pipes, and dryers that don’t require an exhaust vent, having in-unit laundry has become a topic of serious consideration.
Some buildings have already begun amending the rigid rules by drawing up their own guidelines with the help of the building’s lawyer and engineer. Landlords are allowing tenants to install washer and dryers in their individual apartments as long as they abide by the established arrangements. As part of the regulations, some buildings mandate that tenants strictly utilize condenser dryers and washers that are of a low water-usage brand such as Bosch and LG. Condenser dryers function in a way that doesn’t exhaust air and instead uses a dual loop airflow system that is much more efficient. As opposed to using vents and having to break down a part of the wall to accommodate the vents, all you need is an electrical outlet and let the condenser heat the surrounding ambient air. Pairing the use of ventless dryers with the use of low water-usage washing machines makes way for a more environmentally-friendly and efficient way of doing one’s laundry.
Some might still be wary of installing in-unit laundry, whether they’re building managers concerned with the additional burden or tenants who are on a budget. But, don’t throw in the towel just yet, because the overall benefits appear to outweigh the costs. For building managers, including in-unit laundry increases property value, therefore increases the rent by $50-$100 per month on average. Additionally, the more advanced and highly efficient washing machines significantly decrease water and energy consumption costs for residents. So, while the rent may be raised due to the increased utility usage, ultimately, the savings add up. Instead of relying on an external laundry service, residents can save on the weekly laundry expenditure. Even with the higher rent, the savings add up at the end of the day and make it a worthwhile investment.
Whether buildings opt to create a designated laundry room or allow residents to install an in-unit laundry, we can all agree that having an accessible laundry room is a great perk. Not only does it save multiple trips to a laundromat, but it saves money in the long-run—for both residents and building managers alike. It’s no Rosie the Robot, but at least we can fluff n’ fold in the comfort of our own homes.