• Should You Allow Your Tenants to Have Christmas Trees?

    The holidays seem to creep up on us earlier and earlier each year. Ghoulish masks and fun-sized bags of candy are hardly off the shelves before we hear holiday music in Starbucks and see Christmas tree stands on sidewalks. As a landlord or property manager, one of your worries with all this yule tide is the idea of your tenants hauling needle-filled trees into your property’s lobby or setting their living room on fire!

    It begs the question – should you allow your tenants to have Christmas trees? After all, you don’t want to become the Scrooge of your neighborhood.

    It’s uncommon to ban Christmas trees.

    Dead, dry trees mixed with electrical twinkle lights can often be considered a fire hazard that you may want to avoid. The idea of sweeping sticky pine needles off your lobby floor probably doesn’t sound all that appealing either. But it’s fairly uncommon for a lease agreement to specifically ban the use of Christmas trees in a rental property.

    You can educate your tenants on Christmas tree safety, though.

    To avoid forever being known as the Grinch who stole your tenants’ Christmas, you may want to avoid the banning of certain holiday decorations. But that doesn’t prevent you from keeping your tenants educated on important rules or precautions related to their holiday décor. A newsletter or hallway bulletin is a great place to keep tenants informed.

    Suggest they use artificial trees. Many artificial trees are fire retardant and don’t leave sticky sap or pine needles all over your lobby. Try leaving your tenants a coupon or a sale flyer for businesses nearby selling artificial trees at a better price than the tree stand on your block.

    Reiterate the fire hazards. If you do decide to create specific rules around holiday decorations, focus on things that could be fire hazards. For instance, a tree near a fireplace or radiator can quickly send it up in flames. Remind your tenants to keep their trees far from these areas of the property. Also inform them of the dangers of using extension cords that are far too often the cause of fires, and can overload electrical outlets, or the risk of leaving the lights on the tree plugged in while unattended or away.

    Do the decorating for them. Setting up a live tree and other holiday decorations in a common space may put your tenants in the spirit enough that they are okay without their own. If your common space is an all-purpose room, remind your tenants that they can reserve it for their holiday party. Then they don’t have to go through the trouble of decorating their own space.

    Give specific instructions for disposal after the holidays. It’s crucial that your tenants know the process for disposing of trees once the holidays are over. Check your city’s process for proper disposal and pass it along to your tenants. The last thing you need when trying to rent vacant units to new tenants are a bunch of brown Christmas trees on your property’s curb.

    Happy tenants are tenants that will care for your property and renew their leases. The hazard of having Christmas trees on your property is fairly low in the grand scheme of things, but including rules in your lease around interior décor may make potential tenants feel that you would make a difficult landlord or property management company.

    So, join the Christmas spirit and allow your tenants their holiday joy. Just remind them of how to keep themselves, and your property, safe this season!