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The end of the year is often a time for giving. Religious and secular holidays alike include elements of thankfulness and giving gifts. This is also the close of the fiscal year for many companies, when annual bonuses or gifts of appreciation are given to employees, vendors, and customers.

As a landlord, you may be wondering whether it is expected or appropriate to make any holiday gestures toward your tenants; they are your customers, after all. In this article we will discuss the considerations around giving gifts, trinkets, or even rent reductions at the giving time of year.

Landlords walk a fine line in their business. While you are in the industry to make money, it’s hard to ignore that the product you are selling is very meaningful to your tenants. There is little more personal than the place where your tenants hang their hats at the end of each day. Whether gift giving is appropriate is unique to each situation. Your relationship with your tenant is a highly individual matter, and you will have to decide whether to recognize a tenant for choosing your home as their home.

Perhaps you have a long-standing relationship with the tenant and know him or her very well. On the other hand, if you have had to issue frequent reminders or warnings to your tenant, you may be cautious about making the relationship anything other than a business transaction. Most landlord-tenant relationships will fall somewhere between the extremes.

When all factors are considered, if you have decided to give a present, the question becomes what sort of gift to give. Some landlords consider a “bonus” in the form of a one month reduction of rent. Perhaps you know that your tenant could use rent relief more than any other gift. When considering rent reduction, weigh whether any difficult precedents will be set. In certain landlord-tenant relationships it might work, but for other landlords there may be a better plan.

Small gifts of gourmet treats, gift cards, or other tokens offer another option. These can be tailored to the tenant’s tastes and interests if you know your renter well. Or, perhaps a written greeting card strikes the right balance between a formal thanks you and a sincere acknowledgement of thanks to your tenants.