Should Landlords Give Tenant Gifts at the Holidays?

should-landlords-give-tenant-gifts-at-the-holidaysMany landlords wrestle with the question of whether to give winter holiday gifts to tenants. From Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa, people celebrate the season by giving gifts. Does that mean you should? According to Steven Michael White of Rentprep, you need to go with your gut feeling on this one.

There are several schools of thought on this. On one hand, you may feel the need to show appreciation for all their business contacts via cards or small gifts. However, you may not see the need to gift someone who is essentially your customer. Let’s look at the pros and cons about tenant holiday gifts.

Why Give Tenant Gifts?

In the spirit of the holiday season, people often provide gifts to others within their business or service circles as a token of appreciation, such as to mail carriers, gardeners, teachers or co-workers. Many landlords figure that gifting a tenant is no different and lets them know they are appreciated as good residents.

It can also be beneficial in promoting good feelings between you, which may help in the future during potential disputes. If there are tenants that you feel are exceptional and you’d like to entice them to stick around, a holiday gift could make that tenant feel even better about living in your property and might promote that goodwill. A tenant gift can even be a way to nudge a rocky relationship between a less-than-stellar resident in the right direction.

At the very least, you’ll be able to spread good feelings around by giving a simple gift to someone else during the winter holidays—making you feel good, too.

Why Skip Tenant Gifts?

On the other side of the tenant gift-giving debate is that other companies simply don’t give gifts out to customers, such as car dealers, movie theaters, health clinics, the utility companies or the grocery stores. Many landlords feel that their property management business is the same. Perhaps, you’d rather not send mixed signals to your tenant that you are friends and elevate the relationship to anything more than a business arrangement.

Many people in the rental business feel uncomfortable giving a gift to a tenant, because they reason that gifts are for friends and family, not acquaintances. It’s also common for landlords to choose to opt out of the holiday gift-giving mania where you must provide something for each person whose path you cross. If you have a lot of properties, even small tenant gifts can really add up and take away from funds designated for improving the property.

What if you don’t really even like the tenant or have had issues in the past that have left you both with bad feelings? A tenant gift isn’t going to change things. Similarly, a holiday gift probably won’t convince a good tenant to stay, while being a good landlord the rest of the year will.

Go With Your Gut

Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine whether giving holiday gifts to your tenants will be a positive or a negative thing. A small investment of your time delivering thoughtful tenant gifts might translate into advantages in tenant retention and smooth overall relations between you—or will it?