Should you give your tenants a holiday gift?
Many landlords believe that they do so much for tenants they shouldn’t be expected to go above and beyond by giving gifts. Yet others like to say thanks to good tenants while spreading holiday cheer.
I love buying, giving, and receiving gifts. But that’s not everybody. Past experiences, the actual gift, and how it is given play a huge role in how people react to giving or receiving presents.
My experience with gift-giving has been that most tenants love to receive a treat during the holiday season. But it still begs the question, if/when you buy a holiday gift for your tenants, how will you know if it will be viewed as an appropriate gesture?
There’s no set right or wrong answer to this question but, there are pros and cons to consider.
Pros and Cons of Gift Giving
Have you ever received a Christmas gift from a past employer? In my prior work experience, few employers ever gave employees Christmas gifts. Employees usually organized gift exchanges amongst themselves, and there was a dinner/potluck. Yet there was always a collection for an expensive Christmas gift for the boss. It seemed unfair to me.
On the opposite end, every year for seven years, my husband’s former employer (a retailer) sent out a large Christmas box to each employee filled with the latest and greatest items from their warehouse. We were as excited as kids when the box came.
On the pro side, gifts:
- Show appreciation
- Reward good behaviour
- Promote kindness
- Foster positive relationships between you and your tenants
- Nurture tenant loyalty
- Can be claimed as tax-deductible expenses
If you’ve decided to go the gift-giving route, here are some ideas to think about:
Gift cards take the stress out of finding the perfect item. Tenants can choose whatever they like within the gift card category and use it whenever it suits their time/schedule. Popular items include:
- Coffee/tea shops
- Movie Tickets
- Grocery Stores like Safeway, Coop
- Retail outlets; The Bay, Walmart, Winners, Home Sense, Rona etc.
- Specialty stores; ice cream, chocolate shops
- Gas Stations
- Lottery tickets (my dad used to buy me lottery tickets for Christmas and my birthday)
If you’d like to personalize your gift-giving experience for your tenants and know their tastes, many gift basket companies offer a huge variety of items; supplies, bed and bath products, chocolates, cookies, wine, fruit sculptures, charcutier, to household décor. Do be careful you are not sending alcohol to people who don’t drink or sugary items to diabetics – I’ve made that mistake before!
Highly practical tenants appreciate something that makes their day-to-day lives easier/more enjoyable. Here are some options for your tenants to choose from:
- A spring-cleaning service
- Installing a new light fixture, upgrading a small appliance such as a microwave
- Re-painting a room in a colour of the tenant’s choice
- Replacing window coverings
- Shampooing the carpet
In my experience, yard cleanup (fall and spring) as well as spring cleaning services, have been well-received from my tenants.
If your properties are pet-friendly, your tenants will love you for treating their pets. Pet stores and even thrift shops can provide a treasure trove of inexpensive treats.
Have you ever noticed that when you make your someone’s kids happy, you become their instant favourite? It’s easy to find very reasonably priced children’s toys, books, and games, and the bonus is that your tenants will love you for thinking of their kids.
If the only time you contact your tenants is to let them know of an infraction, they’ll get a knot in their stomach every time they think of you. It’s good customer relations to give tenants positive associations to you, their landlord – gift giving makes a positive deposit to the tenant’s emotional bank account.
The Cons of Gift Giving
On the negative side of gift giving, the occasional tenant may feel obligated to return a gift – something they may not feel comfortable with or be able to afford. There is also the off chance they may have received something inappropriate that offends them. If you don’t know your tenants well, as a rule of thumb, it’s better to stay away from any gift with religious references or alcohol.
Years ago, when I was a tenant, my landlady came to each apartment door with a stack of boxed cookies. Each tenant received one box and the price tag was still on the box, $1.00. I had lived in the apartment a few years and felt offended that she gave such a super cheap, generic gift she hadn’t bothered to wrap or even remove the price tag.
Another year, a former employer chose to host their staff + 1 Christmas party at a drag show. I was ok with the show but felt offended by how they insulted the men in the audience throughout the performance.
While your rental investment is your business, it’s ultimately your decision whether to give your tenants a holiday gift or no gift.
There are many reasons why good tenants stay in a property. Your choice of buying your tenants a holiday gift is one small factor in the landlord/tenant equation.
I’ve helped hundred of people realise their dreams of self-management and, my aim is to make your life easier.
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