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Many landlords add a clause to their leases that outright forbid their tenants from owning waterbeds. It’s understandable that they’d want to prevent damage to their property, but these clauses can cause stress to those who have invested in this type of premium bedding. Approaching the problem with preserving your landlord’s bests interests in mind goes a long way in helping you negotiate so you can keep your waterbed in your apartment or rental.
If your lease includes a “no waterbeds” clause, it might not hold up in court. Some state or local laws forbid landlords from outlawing waterbeds in their leases. Do a little research into your state and local laws about what a landlord can and cannot do — a landlord in Missouri, for example, is well within their rights to write a clause forbidding waterbeds into their leasing agreements. A landlord in California must allow them but can charge an extra deposit as insurance against leaks, mold or potential damages caused by a tenant who doesn’t take care of their waterbed.
In addition to state landlord-tenant laws, local laws also apply. Your local metropolitan housing authority or legal aid service center can inform you of any applicable state and local laws, or direct you to written landlord-tenant handbooks outlining what is and isn’t illegal for leasing in your specific area.
If a waterbed is the only way you can get a good night’s sleep due to injury or disability, be prepared to provide proof. A doctor’s note or written declaration from another medical professional that your waterbed is a necessary accommodation for your health goes a long way in keeping you from being served with an eviction notice over your choice of bedding.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be upfront with your landlord about your bedding: quite the opposite. Before ever signing a lease that includes a “no waterbeds” clause, discuss it with your landlord and have proof of necessity on hand. Your landlord may understand and agree to remove the clause. If so, get a written statement of the change bearing both of your and your landlord’s signatures.
Sometimes landlords use boilerplate template leases, printed off from a random Internet page. The simplest and easiest way to figure out if your landlord’s position on waterbeds in your rental is a hard line is to talk it out. Ask if the clause is a hard and fast rule, or if there’s room for negotiation. Inquire about the reason for the clause.
Negotiating with your landlord means you might have to temporarily become a waterbed expert — beyond the knowledge that they’re comfortable to sleep on! If the reason your landlord doesn’t want to allow waterbeds is the fear of leaks, for example, you might counter with the information that modern waterbeds have come a long way since their ‘60s or ‘70s counterparts. Modern waterbeds use liners — which are surprisingly affordable additions — that hold excess water in the event your bed fails.
Another common concern for landlords is the weight of waterbeds — the amount of water most mattresses hold makes for a pretty heavy mattress. If you’re looking at renting in a duplex or multiplex, consider offering to take a bottom floor unit to ease the landlord’s mind. Otherwise, bring up the weight distribution properties provided by a proper waterbed frame or pedestal, or even extra waterbed decking — the right bedroom furniture and foundation for a waterbed or floatation mattress can help disperse the weight of the mattress so as to avoid structural strain. Your bed would pose no more harm to the integrity of the flooring than, say, an antique oak bed frame and traditional mattress and box spring set.
If your landlord is still unsure about letting your waterbed move in with you, offer to carry extra insurance to cover the cost of potential damages. While it’s wise to invest in a renter’s insurance policy no matter what kind of bed you have, carrying an extra rider specifically for damages caused should your waterbed fail can give your landlord the extra peace of mind required. Provide your landlord with a copy of your policy to prove you’re not just putting them on and that you take your bedding seriously. Sometimes all it takes is for a landlord to see that you care enough to go the extra mile.
If you already have a renter’s policy, check the terms. Not all policies cover waterbed damages unless they were caused by a catastrophe like a fire or malicious act, like vandalism. There may also be a limit on how much monetary compensation they’ll provide. If your waterbed is accidentally punctured and your liner fails, flooding the apartment below you and damaging the belongings of those tenants, for example, you may be out of luck with a standard renters’ policy. Using this example, you may have to pay to replace those belongings yourself with insurance only covering the structural damage. Every policy differs, so know what you’re paying for and pay for extra coverage where you can.
If your landlord won’t budge on their “no waterbeds” lease agreement clause, you may have no recourse. Consider renting from another landlord that does allow waterbeds, or look into converting your waterbed into a conventional mattress by using a waterbed insert.
Inserts for waterbeds allow you to use the frame, pad and bedding you already own. Drop-in inserts for waterbeds can be latex, innerspring, memory foam or even air mattresses — none of which are typically forbidden in lease agreements. You can simply drain your water-filled mattress and stick it in storage for the duration of your lease and use the insert until you can find housing that allows you to return to your favorite bed.
The easiest way to keep your waterbed is to work with your landlord. Your landlord wants to make sure the apartment or rental home stays structurally sound and free from damage. Many landlords have had bad experiences with tenants who don’t care about the property. By showing your landlord you’re serious about keeping your waterbed in prime condition, and carrying the necessary insurance or documentation to do so, you may convince them to waive a “no waterbeds” leasing clause. Be honest, forthright and solution-focused when negotiating with your landlord. If you can’t reach an agreement, consider placing your mattress in storage and investing in a drop-in natural and all organic mattress that converts your waterbed to a traditional bed until your lease is up.