New Tenant Welcome Basket
April 5, 2017 7:00 PM   Subscribe

We finally got our apartments rented to awesome seeming tenants! I want to put together a "welcome home" basket for them for when they move in. What should I include?

Right now, I have the following:

1.) Bottle of Champagne
2.) Gift Card to local restaurant
3.) Furniture pads to prevent scratching the floor
4.) Take out menus for local pizza/Chinese/sandwich places

I was going to write a short note welcoming them to building. They already have "the rules and regulations" which detail how trash works, how mail works, etc etc. They have my contact info. What else would you want in a welcome basket from your landlord?

Bonus question- it's a converted townhouse with two separate apartments that share an entry hallway/staircase. The tenants in each apartment are going to bump into one another. How weird would it be to host a dinner with all of the tenants to let them meet?
posted by Suffocating Kitty to Home & Garden (42 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Toilet paper. Not even joking. It sounds weird but everybody needs it.
posted by gc at 7:05 PM on April 5, 2017 [13 favorites]

Shower curtain. They'll need it sooner than they can find where (if) they packed one.

However, it might also imply that you supply shower curtains on demand. I have gotten a call from tenants asking me to buy them another one.
posted by Dashy at 7:09 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Honestly? Others might disagree, but this seems like overkill to me. I don't want to be friends with my landlord. It's a business relationship. I want to pay my rent on time and I want the place to be maintained and repaired promptly. A basket is fine, but make the contents very cheap (yes to take-out menus and furniture pads, no to champagne) so I don't have to think about my rent money being used to pay for it. I would find the dinner party invasive. Not everyone wants to hang out with their neighbors. Let your tenants decide for themselves.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:10 PM on April 5, 2017 [83 favorites]

Nice cleaning products like Mrs. Meyer.
posted by saturdaymornings at 7:12 PM on April 5, 2017

I agree that champagne is overkill, but a note (not even a gift card) about great local restaurants or delis might be nice, especially on the first evening after moving in when I never want to cook and do want to explore the neighbourhood.

It would be nice to have the chance to meet neighbours but I'd do something lower stakes than a dinner party, like tea in a shared garden if there is one.
posted by tavegyl at 7:15 PM on April 5, 2017 [5 favorites]

The only thing I've ever wanted from my landlord was a cordial business relationship where all issues were dealt with quickly and professionally. Make sure the place is clean and everything is functioning. A roll of toilet paper is good too. Anything after that I feel is unnecessary. Take out menus? No thanks, I have my phone. No offence, but that's just more clutter of the move I need to deal with. Champagne is way too much. Spend that money on quality lightbulbs instead please.
posted by cgg at 7:16 PM on April 5, 2017 [13 favorites]

First of all, I'm just blown away by the idea of a landlord welcome basket. That is ridiculously awesome! I think you're already including more than enough, but if you want to supplement, I'd think in terms of essentials, since you are already including champagne & the restaurant gift cards, which are fun things. Along the idea of toilet paper, I'd say a couple of rolls or papertowels (or a nice lint-free/flour sack type dishtowel), WD-40, a Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser, and/or Goo Gone, all of which have always been lifesavers at one time or another. Maybe consider including a couple of bottled waters or a water filter for the tap, if one isnt' already installed. I'd stay away from anything that could wander into someone's home decor/aesthetic preferences. You could also take regional/seasonality into account. For example, in the Northeast, we're pretty much out of winter, so a cheap shovel or ice melt isn't helpful, but a citronella candle, natural bug spray, or something to keep drinks cold would be awesome. You could also think in terms of seasonal fruit or plants. Honestly, I think this idea is super sweet.

As for your bonus questions, I wouldn't bother to facilitate a meet & greet but would ask their permission to share each other's contact info in the event of emergenices, and, if they agree, then do a virtual introduction sharing contact info, and let them take it from there. They may become friends, they may end up hating each other, but if something happens and they know how to get in touch with each other without bugging you that could be a good thing, as long as both agree to share their info, of course.
posted by katemcd at 7:22 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

To be honest, I'd take the furniture pads as a warning.
posted by zadcat at 7:27 PM on April 5, 2017 [33 favorites]

A TV channel listing would be helpful.
posted by lakeroon at 7:32 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

When I moved into my current building, my welcome "basket" was a bottle of wine, a wine glass with the apartment logo, a reusable shopping bag with the apartment logo, a scented candle, and then handy information: numbers and addresses for local restaurants, emergency services, businesses and coupons. I was surprised they left me it and thought it was very sweet, to be honest. This is a big corporate building, but it's also expensive, so it kind of makes sense they try to make their tenants feel special. (When I renewed my lease, they sent me a mug with the apartment logo, a bag of locally roasted coffee, a chocolate biscotti, a little jar of honey, and a honey dipper.) At previous apartments, they usually only left me an information packet with said contact info and coupons, no gifts. I don't think you need need to do more than what you're doing already, and what you're doing already is generous.

Personally I wouldn't want a dinner invite that felt like an obligation. Again, I live in a huge building, but they regularly have things like a Super Bowl watch party, a chili cook-off, a margarita night, etc. and I skip them. I just don't like parties. If I were invited by a landlord of a two-family townhouse, declining would be awkward. I'd wait to see if you build a friendly relationship or if the tenant prefers to keep to him/herself.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:37 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Toilet paper, a very small set of disposable dishes and a roll of paper towels and a binder full of the instruction manuals for appliances.
posted by HMSSM at 7:38 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was genuinely happy to find a two-liter bottle of Coke and some major coupons for pizza as a welcome basket when I moved into my latest apartment. I used them the first two days I moved in!
posted by kimota at 7:54 PM on April 5, 2017

juliapangolin: "Honestly? Others might disagree, but this seems like overkill to me. I don't want to be friends with my landlord. It's a business relationship."

I'd generally agree, but with a major caveat: do you live in the townhouse too, or REALLY close by, like next door? That makes a huge difference. The couple who rented their converted basement out to me? Sure, yeah, it was lovely when they invited me upstairs for dinner and card games with the wee grandkids. But with every other landlord I've had it would be overkill for sure.
posted by capricorn at 7:57 PM on April 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

My landlords left me a towel, some Windex (and probably paper towels and maybe toilet paper, I don't recall), and an air mattress on loan (which I didn't end up needing and gave back right away but was sweet nevertheless) and several extra light bulbs of the same type currently in my fixtures. They also did way more than that, too, though*, and the landlords and I are now friends in addition to having our business relationship.

*Bought a not-required-by-lease washer and dryer for the house as a surprise moving-in present when I indicated I didn't own those and had no idea really what to get and if they knew where I could get used ones to save on money. Also gifted me with really nice, like extravagantly nice, Christmas presents twice and take me out to lunch occasionally and water my plants when I travel. It does also mean I am more likely to not be adamant about them fixing certain things and am a star tenant since I value our relationship. I mean, I'm a good tenant anyway, but I go out of my way to be c'est la vie with these guys.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:05 PM on April 5, 2017

Actually coming back to more practical things - this may or may not be an issue in the US or the type of flat you're renting out, but I would send a marriage proposal to a landlord who provided a clear, room by room, list of bulb and battery types for all light fittings and appliances. I'd appreciate that far more than actual spare bulbs and batteries.
posted by tavegyl at 8:08 PM on April 5, 2017 [3 favorites]

Please consider that there are people for that for medical, personal, or religous reasons avoid alcohol.
posted by DanSachs at 8:11 PM on April 5, 2017 [9 favorites]

I'd swap out the champagne and instead do a small plant. My grocery store sells super-cute tiny potted succulents for $6. Plants are happy!
posted by mochapickle at 8:32 PM on April 5, 2017 [8 favorites]

If you want to give your tenants something, give them money or decrease their rent. They are not renting from you in order to get a gift basket, they are renting from you to get a place to live. If you can afford to rent them a place and get what you consider to be sufficient profit and give them the gift basket, then you are overcharging for the place. Decrease the rent and make their rent commensurate with your actual expected cost plus profit margin.
posted by saeculorum at 8:33 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think it would be best to skip the basket. I think that anything like cleaning products or furniture pads could come across as a passive aggressive way of letting them know that you want them to look after the place. Alcohol is not a great idea because your tenant might be in recovery or otherwise avoiding alcohol (as already mentioned by DanSachs). People don't need paper menus or information about their new neighbourhood, as everything can be found online.

A roll of toilet paper would be awesome. If there's anything tricky about the house that they may need to know, like the location of light switches if they don't make sense, that would be useful information.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 8:36 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Now that I think of it...

We just bought a house and the previous owner left a couple of rolls of toilet paper, a box of extra lightbulbs, and a small dustbroom with a pan and we were over the moon.
posted by mochapickle at 8:44 PM on April 5, 2017 [12 favorites]

I think this is a great idea, as long as you keep it low key.

I would keep it to basics that anyone could use in the first few days, such as:
Nthing toilet paper (even better to put in in the holders)
Paper towels
Liquid soap
Paper plates, plastic ware, cheap drinkware
TV channel listing (as suggested above)
Information on all the utilities (but maybe move-in time is too late for that)
Maybe gift card or coupon for place that serves pizza and more

Anything else might be in the realm of too personal and differing tastes. For instance, some of us (such as me) don’t even drink soda. I wouldn't want a plant. Etc.

But I would love you for leaving toilet paper.
posted by maurreen at 8:57 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

My dream basket would involve the following:

Toilet paper
Coupons for some local restaurants
Coupons for some local grocery stores
Some disposable plates and utensils
Maybe a guide to local shops in the area, if that's something that's easily available
Maybe a 6 pack or something of soda or fizzy water

I'd stay away from food, booze, plants, scented cleaning products, etc. because of possible allergies and irritants that you may not know about. Like, I'd appreciate the champagne, but there's no way I can possibly drink it - I don't drink booze - leaving me with either the awkwardness of refusing a gift, or having to dispose of it in what may be a strange city where I don't know anyone.

But pizza or grocery coupons? Or a gift certificate? I can get stuff I actually enjoy, and thus have a little feast.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:25 PM on April 5, 2017

Manuals for all the appliances, please - they can often be found online or with a call to the manufacturer if you don't have the originals.
posted by une_heure_pleine at 9:26 PM on April 5, 2017 [4 favorites]

Toilet paper and hand soap, so the bathroom can be functional from the get-go. Bottled water is nice to have for people moving heavy things in - bonus points for putting it in the fridge so it's cold (but let them know it's fresh). Maybe some packets of powered gatoraide etc. if it's warm there. A USB charging hub might be helpful if they have people helping move in all day and a few people need to charge.
posted by Candleman at 9:42 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Some bottled waters in the fridge is a nice touch.
posted by mullacc at 10:11 PM on April 5, 2017

All I'd need and want is a scrupulously clean apartment. I've yet to move into one as clean as it should be.
posted by soakimbo at 10:19 PM on April 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

Once I moved into a place which already had a new toilet brush sitting next to the toilet. That was really handy, but might be considered weird by some people.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:22 AM on April 6, 2017

I get the instinct, and you sound like a great landlord, but I agree that it seems like overkill, outside $$$ or corporate housing.

One cool thing my building did was give me a gallon of water and and earthquake preparedness packet of information.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:53 AM on April 6, 2017

I would recommend leaving a small basket or something with just practical things like cleaning supplies extra light bulbs paper towels Etc. Leave some toilet paper in the bathroom and maybe some bottled water in the fridge. But nothing fancy and certainly no wine or house plants or personal gifts.

They are not your friends, these are your tenants and you have a legal relationship with them. By acting like you are friends giving them a housewarming gift you are moving from being a business relationship to a more friendly one.

This is great if everything works out. But I know from 7 years experience as a property manager, it frequently doesn't work out. Even if you have the nicest tenants many situations can come up where they feel they can't pay their rent.

Of course as their friends, you will understand that their car broke down or one of them lost a job. I mean you have lots of money and you gave them a nice expensive gift basket and hosted a dinner party for them. You even have enough money to own rental property. And you like them. You just went way far down on the list of people that they are going to pay when they have money.

You seem like really nice people and probably excellent landlords. But even when things start out good they really can go bad and you should try to insulate yourself from this. Otherwise it can turn into a terrible emotional painful time if anything happens with this relationship. And that would be on top of the financial and legal problems.

Be friends with them after they move out of your property.
posted by Melsky at 3:09 AM on April 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

When I moved into my house the previous owners left me a folder with all the appliance manuals, and also left me their leftover light bulbs, toilet paper rolls, paper towels, and Kleenex boxes. I appreciated this much more than the bottle of champagne I got from my realtor.
posted by bookmammal at 3:30 AM on April 6, 2017

I would be so weirded out if a new landlord gave me a gift basket with toilet paper or cleaning products in it. It would feel like "ASK ME ABOUT MY LAST GROSS TENANT WHO LIVED HERE".

A nice note and instruction manuals for any appliances, plus info on any apartment issues that require attention (like uncommon lightbulbs as mentioned above) is about all I would be grateful for.
posted by Mchelly at 3:34 AM on April 6, 2017

I tend to agree this is overkill -- especially the champagne. I'd do a Starbucks gift card with a somewhat low value instead of a restaurant gift card -- especially if there's one within walking distance. (And if they don't drink coffee, Starbucks cards are easy to pass along to others.) Or, along those lines, a grocery store gift card with a similarly low balance (like $20-25) if there's one close by.

I like the idea of basic necessities that tend to give overlooked when moving -- yes, toilet paper in the bathroom (and a plunger under the sink! which they won't need right away, but when they need it, it will be 1 a.m. on a Sunday), paper towels in the kitchen, maybe a small toolkit with basic tools (like this one from IKEA), extra light bulbs (especially if some of the fixtures take non-standard ones). Anything they may need the first day they're moving in, basically.

I'd also make a list of important numbers (yours, local utilities, non-emergency police/fire/etc.).

I like the suggestions of bottles of water in the fridge (fizzy and still).

Please don't have a dinner party introducing everyone to each other.

I think you intentions here are good but I do think this would make me feel odd and like I was being watched. As others have said, this is a business relationship.
posted by darksong at 4:57 AM on April 6, 2017

I've had landlords do this twice, and both times I appreciated it.

1. Large complex with corporate ownership: We got a small basket with toilet paper and sample sized dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent, and a few other cleaning products. I appreciated it as very helpful because I was moving across state lines and I showed up before my boxes of cleaning products etc. showed up and it gave me something to use before I made it to the store.

2. Duplex with the landlord in the other unit: A bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, and packet of info with contact info, utilities, and some neighborhood history. Again, I appreciated it, but it's an old building that's been in the landlord's family for a long time, so I knew coming into it that we were going to have a less business-y relationship. I still would find a dinner party weird.
posted by asphericalcow at 6:26 AM on April 6, 2017

I'm a strong no on Proposition Dinner Party. If you do this you foist a social relationship on people who may prefer to keep a little distance. If everyone's a social butterfly, a dinner party might be OK, but also unnecessary because in that case the social relationship will develop naturally anyway. Let your tenants figure out how to navigate this.

I say this as an introvert who once rented half of a duplex. The other tenant was really bubbly and if I was coming home and saw her outside I had to steel myself for 10 minutes of small talk. After a long day of work (people) and a long commute on public transit (more people) I just wanted to retreat into my apartment and be alone for a while. I ended up moving in part because of this.
posted by mama casserole at 6:40 AM on April 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Hmmm. I left a bottle of champagne and Girl Scout cookies in the fridge when I rented half my duplex. The tenants meant to stay 3 months, but it's been a year and now we're friends.

I credit the Girl Scout cookies.
posted by slateyness at 6:45 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

The things I remember from my first apartment's welcome basket is the toilet paper and granola bars. I'm sure there were other things, but those were the items I was thankful for.
posted by advicepig at 7:00 AM on April 6, 2017

Make some ice if there's no icemaker.
posted by jgirl at 7:04 AM on April 6, 2017

Nthing the practical stuff:

- a few bottles of water in the fridge and maybe some ice ready to go were huge one summer move.

- a bottle of soap suitable for handwashing was great, and/or a small thing of dishwasher detergent/liquid.

- a roll or two of toilet paper is also very handy.

- info on local takeout/delivery would be lovely especially any details that aren't standard business as usual or obvious from the web sites for those places if they have them. (Like "the sandwich place next block down is totally worth it, but they only take cash. Nearest ATM is over here.")

- if they're moving from somewhere not very nearby, info on where the nearest hardware store and general goods store would be very helpful (for the 'argh, we need a new broom' or 'this trashcan does not fit here, we need something different' kinds of needs.) Especially if traffic / parking / other logistics make a store that's slightly further away a lot easier in practice. The stuff the Internet doesn't tell you reliably, in other words.

- one of my moves, they left some nice bath salts, which were very nice after being exhausted, but that's on the edge of overkill for me.
posted by modernhypatia at 7:16 AM on April 6, 2017

Echoing what Melsky said. We did this with our first round of tenants -- we wanting to have a great relationship! We were living in the same building and brought down dessert and basically treated them like friendly neighbours.

And then the "I didn't get the hours I expected" notes started, and much drama ensued. They want a nice, well-maintained place to live in. You want their rent payments and that they take decent care of your place. Changing the parameters can lead to weird drama and issues. Definitely do not be the social coordinator, or you might also become the social moderator and you do not want that!

I think a very small token gift is okay if it's clearly something you would provide to anyone. I'm not sure how I think about toilet paper except filling the holders for that first day.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:23 AM on April 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Sometimes when people talk about how a landlord/tenant relationship should be Strictly Business, I think they must work for much better-run businesses than I do. I would not want the roof over my head to be reliant upon the same people who cannot decide on when to schedule a conference call to save their lives!

To my mind the ideal landlord-tenant relationship would be a little more than pure business; it must be professional and with clear obligations, but this is someone's home, where they are asleep and vulnerable. And it's also someone's massive investment. In other words, there needs to be an element of care.

I think your idea of offering a small welcome basket is precisely in line with adding that element to the relationship, but nthing that there shouldn't be alcohol (you never know) and that practical things that will help them care for the unit are best. What you're communicating is, "Hello, we are asking you to take good care of our property, but we're also willing to help you do that."
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:34 AM on April 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Appliance manuals for everything, or at least model numbers so they can look them up online.
Local utilities info, like leaf/garden debris pickup, what recycling is taken curbside. Telecom options available? Even though we moved towns within the county, telecom options were very different, and figuring out who to call was a hassle.
Info on local stores -- hardware, grocery, pharmacy, takeout.
Toilet paper, soap, hand towel/paper towels. Trash bags!
posted by Princess Leopoldine Grassalkovich nee Esterhazy at 5:13 PM on April 6, 2017

Maybe I'm traumatized by the NYC rental scene but this would seem...invasive to me, as though my landlords were trying to insert themselves into my personal life. That can happen organically of course, but this sort of gift right at the outset would make me worry about how you see our relationship.

Because there is a power dynamic here, given that I am sending you like half of my take-home pay and you're profiting--and I'm depending on you for my home. And I'd worry whether you'd have appropriate boundaries about that. E.g., I'd worry you were going to "pop in" all the time or email me passive aggressive micromanage-y notes disguised as friendliness or ignore my pleas to fix a leak or judge my curtains or kick me out if you don't like me.

If you have the money to give me champagne and gift cards (both of which have very easily discerned monetary value) that number might stick in my craw when I'm writing you my biggest check of the month for your enrichment. Or when you repair that broken faucet with a cheaper model.

If I were a horrible person I would take this extravagant gift as a signal you were green and a people-pleaser who wouldn't do shit if I didn't feel like paying my rent one month.

There is something to be said for moving into a pristine apartment with ZERO crap in it. I don't want other people's toilet paper choices or wasteful plastic water bottles inflicted on my brand new home. Paper is clutter and I can look up cable providers on my phone.

I don't think people who live in duplexes want to feel like they're living in a shared space with the other side. Let them make friends, or not, on their own.

I sound like the biggest grinch in the world and you seem like the friendliest person ever. But maybe my grouching will help you see how renters feel about their role and their space. The best landlord is not a pal or a sweetie; the best landlord fixes everything as soon and as well as possible and lets me live my life.
posted by kapers at 5:49 PM on April 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

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