Yes, Virginia, renters DO tip less than owners: Here's how much

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We've always suspected as much, but BrickUnderground's 2011 Holiday Tipping poll confirms that renters as a group do tend to tip less than owners.

More than half (57%) of the 810 renters in doorman buildings who took our poll said they tipped no more than $500 total last year, compared to around one-third (35% percent) of 630 owners in doorman buildings.

On the other extreme, two and a half times more owners qualified as Big Tippers, with 25% of owners in doorman buildings handing out $1,000 or more, versus just 10% of renters with doormen.

As we've speculated previously, several factors may contribute to the gratuity divide:  

  • Transience: Renters move more often than owners and may be reluctant to invest much in people they may not know very long.
  • Wealth: Owners may have more disposable income then renters (though the strength of NYC’s luxury rental market may prove that to be untrue). 
  • Renter mentality:  Bonuses should be paid by the landlord 
  • Owner mentality: Owners are concerned about property values and believe that if they take care of staff, the staff will take better care of the building.

We asked 30 New Yorkers--owners and renters--to explain their views on the renter vs owner divide. Here’s a sampling of their answers:


  • “We’re more inclined to be a little more generous [than renters] because of the permanence of the staff. We have a fabulous staff.” -Helen and Neil, Upper East Side
  • “I think owners feel closer to the people who work in the building.” -Anonymous, Carnegie Hill
  • “I probably tip more than if I rented. Renting is more transient, there is less permanence.” -Brad, Midtown
  • “I tip more now than when I was renting, mostly because when I ask for service I actually get it!” -Jackie, Upper West Side
  • “As an owner, I certainly tip more. I want them to take good care of the building.  When I rented I didn’t care…It was a walk-up, pre-war rental, and I was a medical resident, so I was just scraping by. It’s kind of like would you tip your land lord if you were a college student?” -Jim, Upper West Side


  • “I think owners are more concerned about good tipping because they’ll stay put longer.” -Kara, Gramercy
  • “I’m a renter in the process of becoming an owner, so it’s important to make a good impression; I’ll tip better than normal this year.” -Thomas, Upper East Side
  • “I don’t feel pressured to tip, especially now because I’m moving before the end of the year.” -Roger, Gramercy
  • “I don’t think it should matter if someone’s an owner or a renter. It  depends on the work of the individual.  Some are good, some are brain dead.” -Walter, Carnegie Hill
  • "Owners tend to make more money and ask for more frequent services.” -Peter, Upper East Side
  • "Don’t owners tip better than renters? I think I tip well, but I’m not sure all my friends who rent also tip well. By contrast, though, everyone I know who owns, tips.” -Jane, Upper West Side
  • “Owners should always tip. When you rent, it’s more of an option unless you’re a pain-in-the-arse tenant. -Casey, Upper East Side

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