To Gift or Not to Gift: The Pros and Cons of Tenant Gift Giving

Posted By: Tiffany Van Buren Housing Provider Tips,

The winter holidays are upon us, and whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Yule, gift giving is a customary practice. You’ve selected the perfect presents for your loved ones, you’ve bought gifts of appreciation for your mail carrier and UPS delivery person, but do you buy gifts for your tenants? Here we briefly cover the pros and cons of tenant gift giving from a landlord’s perspective and offer some gift suggestions should you decide to include your tenants in your holiday giving.


Landlords who are “pro” at gifting their tenants say it’s a small act of kindness that their tenants really appreciate. It can translate into goodwill and increased tenant retention. BPOA Board President Mark Tarses is a true believer, publishing an annual Christmas Gift List on his newsletter, giving his tenants the option to choose from items such as electric scooters, iPads, air fryers, and gourmet chocolates. Mr. Tarses gift list is an extreme example (gifts need not be this extravagant to be appreciated), but his generosity is worthy of a mention here. Typically, if you are a smaller landlord who frequently talks to your tenant and you want to maintain a good relationship and encourage tenant retention, giving a small gift to your tenants like a holiday card or small gift card is generally still perceived as professional, within the confines of a business relationship, and is an appreciated gesture of goodwill.


Landlords who are “con” to gifting tenants say they’re uncomfortable with the idea for several reasons including, “gifts are for family and friends, not acquaintances” or “My tenants only want to hear from me when it’s to fix something”, or “I don’t want to blur the tenant/landlord relationship!” Some are fearful that giving holiday gifts will set an unwanted precedent and gifting will be expected for every holiday and occasion. Still others believe the tenants will be resentful, believing the money would be better spent on property improvements, not “tenant bribes.”


If you decide you’d like to give gifts, you may want to consider that the IRS allows the amount of $25 per year per tenant as a maximum gift deduction on your taxes. Here are a few suggestions:

  • $25 grocery store gift card (Trader Joe’s, Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, etc.)
  • $25 gas station gift card
  • A bag of coffee/box of tea/hot cocoa mix and a coffee mug
  • A small door wreath and a package of 3M command strips for hanging
  • A box of chocolates
  • A hand-written card

Ultimately, being a good landlord is a gift unto itself. Giving your tenants the gift of being respectful, cooperative, and attentive year-round should not be undervalued. Happy Holidays.