December 4th, 2011
It’s December. There’s already been a little snow and you are feeling the Holiday Spirit. Deck the Halls is playing from your CD player and you are planning to buy your tree this week.
Who’s naughty? Who’s nice?
Part of your holiday tradition is to buy Christmas gifts for your family and friends. Since you became a landlord, you now have some tenants. Hmmm, you think how the past year has gone and you realize you have some great tenants. Not only do they pay on time, they have been very understanding of your need to get an appraisal done, were patient when it took the plumber an extra day to fix that leaky toilet, and even called you about some potential maintanence issues allowing you to go in and repair before a larger (and more expensive) problem hit you and your wallet. They saved you a small fortune!
My tenants are nice. Should I buy them gifts?
You truly appreciate your tenants. You want to thank them and Christmas seems like a great time to do it. What about buying them a small gift? It could be a small gift for the entire family, right? You know they have two kids, so what about toys? Or a how about something for the parents?
You head for the mall to take a look and hope you come up with an answer. Hmm, Harry Potter novels seem like a good idea. At least you know your children love them. What about this nice calendar for 2012 for the family with pictures from scenes from the best Caribbean beaches? Hold on, look at these gift cards for Future shop, Best Buy…hey maybe this one for a family dinner at Boston Pizza? What about simply a nice bottle for red wine? Christmas cards? Movie passes?
Wait a minute, what if my tenants misunderstand my motive for the gifts?
Hold on. You served the tenants a notice of rent increase for January 1st. What if they taken the gifts the wrong way?
You’ve never done this before.
There’s the possibility they might think they are paying you a lot of rent money…perhaps too much rent money. You are getting rich “off their backs” and throwing them a token in return for your spoils? Will they think that? It’s not true, but what if they they do?
That calendar of Caribbean beaches? Could they think that’s your holiday thanks to December rent? Those gift cards? You have 50 inch tv and eat at restaurants all the time because you are a rich landlord (you don’t and don’t, but they might think that)? You only want to give gifts as part of the holiday spirit and to show your appreciation, but what if they are not Christian and think you are trying to push some sort of religious agenda on them?
Not only could you ruin your relationship, they might want to move out when the lease ends. Could this backfire on you?
There’s no set and easy answer
What do experienced landlords do in this situation? How can I learn from others with experience to make sure I don’t make newbie mistakes? Landlords have different ways of dealing with all sorts of situations. This is one of them.
Some landlords find sending gifts a great relationship builder. Others avoid it. Others take a middle position and send cards.
Read what landlords think at the Ontario Landlords Advice forum HERE