Is it appropriate to thank landlord with gift?
August 7, 2008 10:58 PM   Subscribe

I am wondering about the appropriateness of giving a thank-you gift to our landlord for some emergency work he recently performed.

The work started out with what seemed to be a minor problem--a small leak under our bathroom sink. However, when the landlord came down to take a look at it, the pipes and sink completely fell apart and crumbled, and he had to head out and find a replacement sink on a statutory holiday, come back, and install it. What we thought would be a 10-minute job turned out to be an all-day project, and it was his only day off in weeks. My husband asserts that this is his job and that our rent cheques are his payment. I think a small thank you (e.g. a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, etc.) would be a nice gesture for his efforts. I should add that we have been renters in the basement suite of our landlord's house for 4 years (he and his wife live in the top two floors); we like living here and plan to continue to live here for the foreseeable future. However, although they are both nice people, they are very slow to respond to any requests we have (i.e. if something breaks)--by "slow" I mean weeks/months, with us having to remind them at least a few times before they "get" to anything. Perhaps an extra thank you, in the form of a small gift, would let them know that we appreciate their efforts? Is it a good idea to give them a gift, or is this inappropriate (it falls outside the standard landlord/tenant relationship) or unnecessary?
posted by parkerama to Human Relations (17 answers total)
My husband asserts that this is his job and that our rent cheques are his payment. I think a small thank you (e.g. a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, etc.) would be a nice gesture for his efforts.

You're both right. Doing this sort of thing is his job. It's also always nice to thank someone. The fact that they are slow at other times is, I think, irrelevant.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:05 PM on August 7, 2008

Ack! I apologize for pasting the entire text into the subject line.
posted by parkerama at 11:13 PM on August 7, 2008

If it takes them weeks and months to fix problems, I doubt a thank-you gift would even register with them. That is, if you hope a thank-you gift is going to help change their behaviour, well, don't bet on it.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:14 PM on August 7, 2008

Don't bother, if the gift is an attempt to spur them to greater efficiency in the future.

I tried this with my mailperson, who chronically (like, every day) forgets to pick up the outgoing mail- I left her a nice card and a gift card at Xmas, which she got and thanked me for - and has made utterly no difference on her behavior.

Send a nice card, reconcile yourself with having to remind them several times to get things fixed.
posted by arnicae at 11:22 PM on August 7, 2008

Do it because you feel like it. Do it because you're human and you want to. It will make you happy.

Don't do it as a way to manipulate the landlord into being a better landlord or person.

Do it because you're grateful he cared enough (even if that's only a little) to do his job right. If people only do the minimum required, it can get a lot worse. That feeling of gratitude? It's real and you shouldn't ignore it.
posted by amtho at 11:26 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

Seconding doing it because you feel like it, and because you'll enjoy giving it. Be really careful not to give anything big or personal enough that it will make you resentful when they're slow in future - it's a thank-you for this and now only, not a binding promise.
posted by carbide at 11:58 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

What could be the harm? The expense will be slight, and at least he'll know you appreciated his efforts this time. Sure, he gets paid to do this stuff already, but it never hurts to make a relationship a bit more cordial, especially as you're not renting one unit among dozens. Don't count on it spurring him to be quicker next time, but hey, you never know how far a little gratitude might go.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:11 AM on August 8, 2008

You could not be more right.

Your plan will pay untold dividends too, but that's clearly not why you're doing it.

I hope-- without much rational expectation my hope will be realized, perhaps-- that your husband will develop the judgment to fade into the background and let you handle the people you must do business with as a couple. All concerned will be much happier, and by observing you, he will have the chance to learn some very important things about human nature he clearly does not yet know.
posted by jamjam at 12:18 AM on August 8, 2008

I think the hive mind is not the least bit scatterbrained on this one.

Giving a small gift or card won't change the transactional relationship you have with them -- and you wouldn't necessarily want it to, anyway. But it will make you feel good (that's the cake) and there's a teeny outside chance that it could make your landlord a bit more responsive to your needs (icing).
posted by Bixby23 at 1:17 AM on August 8, 2008

Adding my voice to the chorus. Do it because you feel like it, and because it'll make you happy.
posted by desuetude at 6:15 AM on August 8, 2008

Paying your rent on time and in full is certainly an important part of the landlord/tenant relationship, but if you want that relationship to be more friendly and helpful than just 'I give you money, you fix my sink' then a gift -- something inexpensive, or even homebaked -- seems like a fine idea. Don't assume it will work magic and suddenly result in all your problems being fixed expediently, but it certainly won't hurt.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:38 AM on August 8, 2008

Yup, do it.

Why not? People like to be appreciated. A thank you couldn't hurt anything.

My landlords did some pretty routine maintenance things to my place, on my request- I was very happy to have them done and included a nice note in with my rent payment the following week. If nothing else, it keeps you all on good terms.
posted by gracious floor at 9:17 AM on August 8, 2008

Thank you, everybody, for your helpful comments. I am going to get a small thank you gift for the landlord, and I feel very good about it (better than before, because my belief that people need to feel appreciated is restored, and because I've been reminded to do it for the right reason--simple gratitude--rather than to hope to possibly also "get" something else out of it (i.e. faster service).

posted by parkerama at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2008

Husband chiming in here, husband with no knowledge of human nature (thanks jamjam, you TOTALLY had enough info to make that call!), with my two cents.

I have no problem at all with my dear wife giving them a small thank you gift, I only said in my opinion it wasn't necessary and that I wouldn't do it.

We have an excellent relationship with our landlords and in the 5 years I have been there no precedent for this sort of gift giving has been established, plus he IS just doing his job, something he himself said multiple times when he was fixing the sink and my wife and I both apologized for this taking up his day off.
posted by Cosine at 10:34 AM on August 8, 2008

Sorry Cosine, but you've lived in these people's house for five years. If they are a little older than you, they probably see you and your wife a bit as their children or younger siblings, don't you think? I wouldn't be comfortable having people live in my basement unless I really, really liked them.

Their feelings, whatever they may be, impose no formal obligations on you, of course, but contracts, jobs and financial obligations are relatively very recent additions to human experience, and cannot, frankly, prevail against sentiment in the long run.

I still think your wife sees some truly crucial things about getting along with people that you seem not to, and that you could not do better than letting her take the lead in those areas. From each according to their abilities, isn't that why you married her, etcetera.
posted by jamjam at 11:41 AM on August 8, 2008

Here here! Thanks jamjam! ;)
posted by parkerama at 12:43 PM on August 8, 2008

Do you think you should only thank people, or show them appreciation, or reach out to them, when it is "necessary"?
posted by amtho at 2:23 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

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