In any relationship, first impressions count. That’s as true of a landlord-tenant connection as any other.
Providing your new tenants with a simple, but thoughtful, welcome package helps set the tone for the future. It shows that you are a considerate landlord who cares about the property and the people living in it. These packages don’t cost much, and they generate goodwill.
Look through these five suggestions, and consider picking one or two welcome packages to provide.
1. Ordering Out
If your tenants spent the day moving in, cooking is probably the last thing they want to do. A welcome package that includes a gift certificate to a local pizzeria, Chinese restaurant, or other food delivery establishment is quite appreciated. Leave a note with the card, stating something like, “Welcome – please enjoy dinner on me.”
2. The Staples
Provide your tenants with a bathroom staples welcome package on move-in day. It’s a simple gesture that’s very much appreciated. Make sure all bathrooms have toilet paper and a box of tissues.
Leave a bar of soap by the sink. You can leave a hand-pump soap dispenser, too, if you like. Putting up an inexpensive shower curtain liner – not the curtain itself – allows them to take a shower the same day they move in.
A roll of paper towels in the kitchen dispenser is also a nice touch.
3. Cleaning Items
A bucket containing sponges, glass cleaner, toilet bowl scrubber, and similar products is useful. And a welcome package consisting of cleaning items goes beyond practicality.
It also sends the message that the tenant must keep the property neat and tidy.
4. Information Packet
If your tenants are new to the area, they’ll appreciate a local information packet. You don’t have to put it together yourself; you can likely pick one up at your town or city hall. The Chamber of Commerce may have welcome packages for new residents that include coupons for various businesses and services.
You might also wish to provide a welcome letter.
Dear [tenant’s name],
I want to provide you with some information to help your move go as smoothly as possible and to welcome you to your new home.
Here is my contact information: [provide the best way to reach you]. If there is a maintenance issue, or if any repairs are necessary, please notify me in writing as soon as you notice the problem. I’ll then schedule a repair and notify you of when it will occur.
I hope you will be happy in your new home. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
You can also include in the welcome letter the recycling and garbage pickup days and other important particulars if you like. Putting together a list of local supermarkets, pharmacies, hardware stores, auto mechanics, and other resources is also a nice touch.
Your information packet should include details about the various systems in the property, such as the HVAC, so the new tenant knows how to operate each one. If the property has a septic system, educate your tenant on proper usage. It doesn’t take too many daily laundry loads or long showers to create septic issues.
5. Other Possibilities
There are lots of other inexpensive and practical gifts to include in your welcome package. Here are just a few:
- Baked goods: There’s nothing more welcoming and personal than a freshly baked pie, cake, or batch of brownies or cookies. Just make sure you don’t include nuts or any other common allergy triggers in the ingredients.
- Selection of coffee and/or tea and mugs.
- Plants: If the dwelling has good southern exposure, leave a non-flowering, hard-to-kill plant for your tenant to brighten the premises. Philodendron, spider plants, and jade plants are all good choices.
- Light bulbs: This is an especially useful gift if there are permanent light fixtures that require special bulbs or if you prefer the tenant use certain bulbs. Note which fixtures need which bulbs.
- Furniture felt pads: These pads help protect your floors. You’re also sending the message that the condition of the property is important to you.
Yes, It’s Tax Deductible
The folks at Nolo say that gifts to tenants are an allowable business expense on your federal income taxes, but they are subject to draconian limits.
If you give someone a gift for business purposes, your business expense deduction is limited to $25 per person per year. Any amount over the $25 limit is not deductible. If this amount seems awfully low, that’s because it was established in 1954! – Nolo
Gifts to Avoid in a Welcome Package
Perhaps you’re a wine connoisseur or really excited about local craft breweries. No matter your enthusiasm, giving your new tenant a bottle of wine, a selection of craft beers, or any other alcoholic beverage is a bad idea. You don’t know whether your new tenant drinks alcoholic beverages, and such a gift could lead to problems.
Fifty years ago, a landlord might gift a tenant a carton of cigarettes. That’s unthinkable today, especially if you prohibit smoking in your unit.
A good rule of thumb is that if an item is legal only for those over 21 to possess, it’s not a wise gift or welcome package fare to give to your new tenants, no matter how well-intentioned.