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Moving Sis’s Stuff

Last summer, my DH’s sister was in a bad relationship and needed to leave. His mother convinced him that the right thing to do would let her stay with us. SIL is a difficult, unhappy, and selfish person, and we’re not close, but DH felt like he needed to help his sister out, so I reluctantly agreed.

After four months of her (and her kids who she has joint custody of) staying with us, and slowly turning our lives upside down, DH put his foot down and asked her to move out. Naturally, she got upset, but did move out.

She wasn’t able to move all of her stuff out, so we agreed she could leave the “big stuff” at our house until she could rent a truck. Her stuff sat in our basement for three weeks; we could never get a hold of her and she never called us.

Finally, one Saturday, while DH and I were out running errands, she pulls up to our house with ex-boyfriend and his truck. My 14-yr. old son and his friend were just returning to the house when they pulled up. SIL asked my son if we were home; he said no, so she walked up to our garage, punched in the code, and walked right in. They got some more stuff out, then left before we got home.

When we got home, we noticed some of her stuff was gone, but there was still a lot of it left. DS noticed our confusion and told us what happened. I was a little upset that she had gone into our house without us there, so I texted her with a short: “Hey, noticed you came and got some of your stuff. Next time, could you call beforehand? Thanks.”

Her return text was not nice. I can see now that my text could be read as harsh and cold, and I was sorry that I upset her with my request, but nothing I said after could calm her down. She felt that because she still had some of her stuff here, that she technically still lived here and could therefore just walk in even if we weren’t there; I disagreed.

My question: was it wrong of me to ask her to call beforehand to make sure we were there? My own parents call to ask to enter our home if needed when we’re not at home, and DH’s parents have a similar rule, so I didn’t think our rule was out of the ordinary. Was I out of line? SIL is not speaking to us and the rest of the in-laws have “cooled” towards me. I could definitely use some advice! 1013-13

Change your entry code immediately.   Your SIL’s trashy ex-boyfriend now knows it.   And if SIL has a key to the house, change the locks, too.

Your house rule is well within reason and family custom so just ignore the drama.   Just be sure to be available for SIL to come get her stuff so that you are not nagging while making it hard for her to do so.   And I suspect the “cooling” you perceive from other in-laws is actually their attempt to disengage from this particular drama as well.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Abby October 14, 2013, 7:21 am

    I understand your discomfort, and I don’t think your request was out of line, but I do believe the request should have come from your husband. She might have responded just as harshly to him, but at least then it’s not the rest of the family ganging up on the in law.

  • Margo October 14, 2013, 7:23 am

    No, you weren’t out of line. SIL was rude and thoughtless.

    My only suggestion would be to let your husband handle any further arrangements for her to collect the rest of the stuff.

    So far as the other in laws are concerned, you do not owe them any explanation, and if they know what SIL is like they may simply be keeping their distance generally. If any of them raise the issue with you directly you can very briefly explain “We don’t really know why she has chosen not to speak to us. The only incident we know of was that we found it disconcerting that SIL let herself into our home without letting us know she was coming, after she had moved out. We asked her to call ahead in future, as other family members do. “

  • Emmy October 14, 2013, 8:06 am

    If DH’s mother was so concerned about doing ‘the right thing’, she should have let her own daughter and kids move in with her. I guess it is easy to ‘do the right thing’ if it involves somebody else making the sacrifice.

  • Pen^2 October 14, 2013, 8:08 am

    I agree with admin. Change your access code. She does not live there anymore, but apparently thinks she still is allowed to enter and use your home as her own. The fact that she didn’t even bother taking all of her stuff supports this unpleasantly selfish view. She would subsequently not have a problem with inviting her ex around, either. You don’t want people with no understanding of boundaries in your house without your knowledge.

    I’d suggest further to let your husband contact her in the future. Your text was fine, but this is his thing to deal with more than yours. It’s easier for her to get rude at you than at a blood relative, also. And you won’t have to worry about perceived judgement from the in-laws. They’re less likely to be as harsh on their own son as on you, as well.

  • Mae October 14, 2013, 8:12 am

    I soon as I read the first paragraph, I knew what was coming.

    I agree with pp- let your husband handle any further communication regarding the sister’s belongings and as Admin advised, immediately change your entry code! As well as the locks, if she has a key. Wanting to protect your home and belongings from a difficult, unhappy, selfish and now, PO’d, SIL is well within your rights. (Anger makes people do bad things) Hopefully, the family “cooling” is other relatives not wanting to be drawn into the situation.

    Another question: If SIL needed help and a place to stay, why did her parents not offer up their home instead of asking the son to take on his sister and her issues? I think he parents knew she was trouble and did not want to deal with it.

    I went through something similar with my own sister several years ago, when she left her husband. She only stayed a week because of her behavior, not watching her child and expecting me to babysit whenever she wanted to nap, go shopping or watch TV and lack of respect for simple house rules: throw cans in this bin, wash your hands before touching food and after diaper changes, don’t let child beat on computer keyboard, husband was working third shift, please don’t let child scream all morning long because he wants/needs something and you are ignoring him.

    The last straw was when I was cooking breakfast and she watched her 18 month old attempt to climb over the child gate and when he could not, she watched him grab the gate and pull/push on it until he loosened it enough to knock it over. He came in and again, she sat and watched as I attempted to finish cooking, keep him from getting burned because the stove and cook top both were hot, getting under the sink where chemicals were and getting tangled under my feet. The whole time I was saying “hey- you need to get him back in there before he or I end up hurt”. She did nothing. I bumped into him, he fell on his butt (not hard enough to hurt him) and she immediately launched into a lecture on how I should be more careful!

    We had the moving out talk right after breakfast.

  • NostalgicGal October 14, 2013, 8:22 am

    You are lucky she moved out in four months. I had someone I tried to help out and it was 3 years and an officially legally written eviction notice. I at least had done the ‘only the stuff you need in my house’ so most of the ‘stuff’ was in a storage unit. It was not her house, it was mine, it was my budget and money, not hers, and so on. I had tried to pay a favor on that a friend had shown me; it bit me good.

    Change the locks and codes immediately AND, secure your windows and doors for burglary protection. It is not above the two doing Breaking and Entering if they arrive and find the locks and codes changed. And I echo, you better be ready to drop everything to be there and let them in to get her stuff. Can you move it all to the garage or some similar ‘staging area’ and get it out of your house proper? And yes, DH is now the official liason with her…

  • Beth October 14, 2013, 8:26 am

    I have to admit, if my things were in someone else’s garage, and I knew the code because I used to stay there, it wouldn’t necessarily occur to me that I was doing anything inappropriate by letting myself in to get those things. I would consider it odd if she were to enter the living quarters of the house and help herself to things in the fridge or something like that, but if the only area she accessed was the garage where her things were, and the only things she took were her own, she didn’t do anything wrong in my opinion. Your message to her may have implied that you don’t trust her, and I can see how that would hurt her feelings. Nevertheless, it is your house and your rules, and your request to her to call beforehand was not unreasonable, so she should honor it without drama, especially since you were nice enough to let her live there for four months in the first place.

  • Alie October 14, 2013, 8:27 am

    … I don’t see anything wrong with your text.

    And nope, she doesn’t have a right to go on your property because some of her stuff is there.

  • Meegs October 14, 2013, 8:36 am

    I don’t know. She was LIVING in the house until recently so I guess I don’t see why you would need to be home for her to come and get some of her stuff. Presumably you were not home 24-7 to watch over her the whole time she was living there, right? I don’t agree with her statement that she is still living there because her stuff is there, but I can kind of see why she wouldn’t really understand why you were annoyed.
    However, I don’t really think your text was harsh and I think your SIL is overreacting a bit.

  • L.J. October 14, 2013, 8:37 am

    No good deed goes unpunished. The inlaws thought they had transferred the problem of helping your SIL to you and your husband. They’re upset that the two of you aren’t completely taking the burden, because it means they might be called upon to help her.

  • Kara October 14, 2013, 8:41 am

    OP, there was nothing that you did that was out of line.

    I second the admin in advising you to change your locks and security code.

    I would also (via your DH) tell your SIL that she has until X date to retrieve the last of her stuff. What you do after X date (start charging storage fees? move her stuff to the front porch or the curb?) is up to you. But I do think that the sooner that she (and her stuff) is out of your hair and out of your house, the better.

  • Jinx October 14, 2013, 8:46 am

    I think you extended a kindness toward someone in need, who unfortunately did not see it as a kindness, but something she was entitled to.

    I agree with Admin: change locks, codes, everything as soon as you can. I get ruffled when people drop by without letting me know when I am home. If someone were to drop by, enter my home and remove things (and who knows what else), I would be in extreme stress and anxiety. I don’t think that’s the kind of things that thoughtful people would do. Not that I’m always thoughtful, but at least a caring person might have said back “I’m sorry, we were trying to move our stuff, and we had such a small window of time. I just wanted you to have your garage back”

    I agree with the above posters that this should be something your husband handles. Does he feel the same as you about the intrusion? Stay out of it as best you can, and I suppose maintain a “business polite” relationship with SIL.

  • Wild Irish Rose October 14, 2013, 8:47 am

    I’m with Admin on this. Change your security settings right now. Evidently SIL wasn’t quite done with trashy ex-BF, and as Admin points out, he now has your security code.

    My feeling is that once you move out of a home, you no longer live there and no longer have instant access to it, regardless of how much stuff you left behind. The only exception I would make to this is when kids go to college and come home for weekends or holidays. You were right to ask SIL to call in advance. Your home, your rules. Now go change your locks.

  • ferretrick October 14, 2013, 9:06 am

    Having boundaries about the privacy of your home is not rude; don’t let anyone convince you it is. There was absolutely nothing wrong with your text or anything else you did. Ignore your in laws “cooling”-which I suspect is just them wanting to stay out of it, rather than anger at you.
    And Admin is right-change your codes immediately and your locks if SIL has a key. Someone close to me came home to find himself cleaned out of everything he owned by a former girlfriend and her new guy, and you just can’t be too careful with who has access to your home.

  • Kirsten October 14, 2013, 9:28 am

    I think that after putting your SIL up for 4 months, she has some nerve to be angry and rude when politely (if not warmly) asked not to enter your property when you’re not there. I agree with the others to let your husband take over from now on, but if called on it I would be absolutely blunt: “I asked her not to enter our home when we weren’t there, and she took exception.” If anyone complains, and you choose to justify yourself (you don’t have to): “It’s a rule we have for our property.”

    Definitely change everything you can – to punch in the code right in front of her boyfriend too! What a breach of your privacy! She does not live there and it isn’t her house. You had every right to text her and you weren’t rude.

    I would stay away from this woman. Am I right in thinking she has now gone back to the boyfriend? I really hope not, but from your post, I have a sinking feeling that this may happen. It also sounds like your MIL tiptoes around her – if she has the same rule, yet has cooled, and begged you to house DIL.

    Next time, don’t do this for her. She got free accommodation and storage, yet one text after she enters without permission and she isn’t speaking to you? Really, I think you should count your blessings and let her go!

  • Jewel October 14, 2013, 9:28 am

    Ahhh, another example of how no good deed goes unpunished!

    Your text wasn’t out of line and needed to be sent, but because the missive’s undertone is “we don’t trust you in our house alone”, your husband should have been the one to send it. As she is his sister, not yours, the in-laws likely wouldn’t have reacted as much as they have because you sent the text.

    Definitely change your locks and your garage code entry pad number. Also, husband should give sis a deadline to get the rest of her stuff from your house (say, by December 1st) or it goes to the curb/Goodwill, etc. If it’s large, bulky stuff he should also offer to help her move it so she’s not tempted to bring ex-boyfriend along to get it. His delivery of this message (and any response from her) needs to be done in writing for documentation purposes — a text will work.

    Other than that, ignore your in-laws reactions and carry on as normal. This will blow over if you and your husband refuse to “feed” the drama.

  • sweetonsno October 14, 2013, 9:31 am

    I think you were perfectly within line. While I can understand her reasoning (sort of… if I squint and tilt my head just so), there’s no reason at all for her to be bringing a stranger into your house. Not okay at all. I agree that you should let your husband handle the communications with her.

    I think the Admin is right about being available without nagging. It’s a tough balance, but I do think it will be best for all involved. If you have a deadline in mind for having all of her stuff out, let her know, and then support her efforts to get it done in a way that is acceptable to you. For instance, if you want her all things moved out by November 15th, then tell her (ASAP). Say that you need to use the space, and ask her when she wants to come get her things. Be there and be available to help, especially if you don’t want her ex in your home again.

  • Alexis October 14, 2013, 9:42 am

    The part that struck me most about this was that she still was in contact with–and perhaps reunited with–her ex?

    If I were you and had just let someone spend several months living with me to get them out of a toxic relationship environment and then they came back to get their stuff with their ex I think I would be upset. I don’t know the extent of how bad this bad relationship was–whether or not it was abusive–and I realize that with abusive relationships there is typically a high chance the victim will return to her abuser. But she was disrespectful to you here in multiple ways if that is the case.

    I agree with previous commenters that letting your husband handle this from now on, if he is willing, is a good idea. Not to pass the buck but simply to make sure that his family doesn’t gang up on you. Best of luck!

  • Lerah99 October 14, 2013, 10:17 am

    This is your husband’s sister. He should be handling the drama.
    You already know she is selfish and the type of person whose life is always filled with one catastrophe after another.

    If her parents felt she needed a safe refuge from her ex, they should have offered their house, not yours.

    I would suggest having your husband text her something along the lines of “Dear sister. We will be home Saturday the 19th from 9am -2pm and Sunday the 20th from 10am – 3pm. We will also be available Saturday the 26th from 8am – 4pm and Sunday the 27th from 9am – noon. Please come by to pick up the remainder of your things during these times. Anything left in my house Sunday the 27th after noon will be taken to our local charity shop with the understanding that you no longer want these items. Love, Brother”

    And then wash your hands of the whole situation. She is an adult. She has had months to get her stuff together. If she doesn’t have room at her place, she can rent a storage unit.

    It is time to get her stuff OUT of your house so there is no reason for her and what ever pillar of the community she is currently dating to enter your home. Also, listen to the admin. Change your locks and change your codes. Even is she gives her key back, she could have made a copy. It is worth the money so you don’t have to worry about waking up one night to her current beau walking off with your television.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith October 14, 2013, 10:21 am

    You’re kind of stuck, OP, because sis has been able to cal all of the shots so far. She had her parents wrangle help for her when a relationship turned sour and (if I read your submission to Ehell correctly) now she is back with the same guy. Her dysfunction seems to be spilling over in major ways onto your family in terms of peace, safety and being held emotionally hostage to her demands for access, safety, validation and favors. She cannot have her cake and eat it too. If the guy is bad news and she was doing everything in her power to get away from him and get a life of her own then she would welcome a chance to get on her feet and make the most of it. Sounds like she’s still pretty ambivalent about what the next step is for her in that she is bouncing from the relationship to your house, from your house to the ex- and who knows from there? One good thing- you’ve done your due diligence in offering her help. The rest is up to her to figure out. Secure your home, distance yourself from the drama and decline to let her “drop in” on you in the future. If it’s an emergency situation and she really needs help- there are ways that allow you to do so at a distance and still be available. So the griping on her part is just entitlement and the pain of her life circumstances. Don’t waste any more time on it. The less you allow yourself to be manipulated now, the more you will be able to give if and when it comes to a point where she really is ready for a transition to a better place in her own life (but from a distance- there are natural consequences to using people up like Kleenex and discarding them until you have another crisis and remember that they are useful…that’s when you can expect to hear about the obligations of family to help…without mention of her obligation to be responsible, of course!).

  • hakayama October 14, 2013, 10:26 am

    @Abby: Your suggestion is right on the money. “HIS family, HIS problem” and HE’S the one to deal with them in controversial and/or potentially touchy areas.
    Access code change and re-keying the locks are in order as of yesterday. Given that it was the MIL’s pressure that got her pwecious little girl into conflict with you and her brother, some folks might even go as far as not giving new keys to the ILs, and to keep things even, not even to your parents…
    Of course there’s the nagging question as to why MIL herself did not provide shelter to her little troubled chick, but pawned her off on others. Possible answer: MIL knows her children, and does not quite play fair.
    I wonder if SIL (via MIL) could be given a deadline after which her belongings could be either put in storage (in her name) or taken over to the ever loving and protective MIL. 😉
    After the poop fit, the least your family’s entitled to is to have no trace of SIL in your home.
    Good luck.

  • Jen October 14, 2013, 10:48 am

    @Beth, according to the post, the items were in the basement, not the garage, so that implies having to go through the house. Also, it was described as “as bad relationship that she had to leave” — I would be extremely uncomfortable if an ex from someone else’s relationship was in my house when I wasn’t there.

    @Meegs, this seems like a perception issue. The SIL wasn’t paying rent, so to me she was a houseguest for four months, not someone who lived there. After a houseguest leaves, they don’t have the right to enter my house whenever they want.

    Actually, I take that back, even if she had been paying rent and even if she had a lease, once she moves out, it is no longer her home, she doesn’t have entry rights. I don’t know if you rent or own a home, but if the previous owners came back a few weeks after you moved in and let themselves in, would you have been okay with that? It doesn’t matter if it’s a friend or family member, they still don’t have access rights to your home if they don’t live there.

    And her stuff being there does not give her entry rights. Some of my friends have borrowed things from me, but I don’t have the right to go into their home whenever I feel like it to get it back.

  • The Elf October 14, 2013, 10:57 am

    If you aren’t actually living there – no matter where your stuff is – you call before you come over. Period. Doesn’t matter if you have stuff there, if you help pay the bills there, if you are the owner’s parents. You call before you come over.

    Otherwise if I answer the door sans pants, that’s on you.

  • AIP October 14, 2013, 10:59 am

    Have you ever watched Judge Judy? If so you know she would go to town on anyone who holds your sister’s wrong assumption. Your text was fine, she’s just an entitled brat who should not take liberties with your property. I agree with everyone else – change that code!

  • Charliesmum October 14, 2013, 10:59 am

    Someone upthread wondered why it mattered if they went into the OP’s garage, and I’d like to point out the stuff was not IN the garage, but in the basement, so it sounds like SIL and EX went through the garage to get into the house. I don’t blame the OP for being miffed at that.

    And OP, I don’t see that your text was rude in any way. You just asked that she call you. You didn’t say ‘I have to be there to watch you’ you just wanted advance notice. There’s nothing wrong with that. The SIL interpreted it based on her own temperment, and thus drama was born.

    I hope your in-laws aren’t really blaming you. I hope it’s like others said, that they are just staying out of it. And I also agree, have your husband deal with her as much as he can from now on.

    good luck!

  • AIP October 14, 2013, 11:02 am

    I would also agree with Jewel; have your husband issue her with a clear deadline to have it out or it goes to storage or better yet Mommie-in-law-Dearest as this was her bright idea.

  • The Elf October 14, 2013, 11:02 am

    If you guys truly do not want to deal with this anymore, and can afford to take this step, rent your sister a storage unit. Move everything into there, give her the key, and now it is on her to get her stuff whenever she can within the time of the rental.

  • Yet Another Laura October 14, 2013, 11:08 am

    Reading that she showed up when you and your husband weren’t there but your 14 year old was, I was expecting that you were going to end this with: And she stole many of our valuables. I’m glad to hear that she didn’t. The paranoid person in me thinks that she left things behind for a second attempt.

    Change your locks and your code immediately if you haven’t already. You and your husband should talk to your son about what to do if she comes over again when you’re not there and he is.

    She ignored your messages until then and only responded to your reasonable request that one would assume would be understood: Don’t come over without calling ahead.

    You were kind and generous about doing a favor for family, but when family takes advantage, the kindness and generosity cease. The sooner you can schedule a time for her to get the rest of her stuff, the better.

  • Kimstu October 14, 2013, 11:34 am

    @Beth: “I have to admit, if my things were in someone else’s garage, and I knew the code because I used to stay there, it wouldn’t necessarily occur to me that I was doing anything inappropriate by letting myself in to get those things. I would consider it odd if she were to enter the living quarters of the house and help herself to things in the fridge or something like that, but if the only area she accessed was the garage where her things were, and the only things she took were her own, she didn’t do anything wrong in my opinion. ”

    I think this may be somewhat misinterpreting the OP: the way I read it, SIL’s stuff was in the LW’s basement, and she went THROUGH the garage to get into the house and proceed to take stuff out of the basement.

    Even if it was just the garage, though, I don’t think anyone should access any place they’re not currently residing without at least giving advance notice to the people who do actually reside there. Heck, my landlords OWN the house I live in, but they are always very conscientious about giving me warning when they’re going to come over to do some work in shared space like the basement or attic (not even my own private apartment). A family member/former roommate with no claim to the property or rights of residence on it should certainly be at LEAST that thoughtful when seeking access to the place that used to be their temporary home.

  • Allie October 14, 2013, 11:52 am

    Not unreasonable or rude at all, nor was your message. I wouldn’t worry about it. But do change the access code. I would also set a firm deadline and advise her that Goodwill will be arriving to collect the rest of her things the day after the deadline. It will amaze you how motivational that will be.

  • Miss-E October 14, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I have to agree with Meegs in that I can see how she wouldn’t have thought twice about coming by since she had lived there for awhile and I assume you let her come and go as she pleased.

    BUT your text wasn’t rude at all and, having helped her out so much, you certainly didn’t deserve a nasty response. If those are your rules, those are your rules.

    I also agree with everyone else about letting your husband deal with her now. Some families are like that. You know ‘I can say what I want because she’s MY mother/sister/whatever but don’t YOU DARE say a word’

  • Reno October 14, 2013, 12:52 pm

    I agree with admin.

    And while I do think it is best policy to have the sibling’s deal with each other on matters that could cause friction, I also think it’s likely your DH wouldn’t have adressed it with her. I base this on the fact he was coerced into allowing her to move in with you for an extended period of time.

    So when it comes to issues of security, I think you were well within your authority to tell her that you do not want her entering your home while you are not there.

  • just4kicks October 14, 2013, 12:53 pm

    I think you were incredibly polite and restrained given the situation.
    My response would have been a LOT less gracious! I notice your in law’s didn’t invite her to live with THEM, so they should butt out in my opinion.

  • Lindsay October 14, 2013, 1:14 pm

    Previous posters are spot on about your rights to know who will be in your home, and you should change your code.

    I was taken aback by Admin’s assumption that the SIL’s ex-boyfriend is “trashy”, as OP indicated nothing about him other than that he was being helpful in using his truck to help his ex-girlfriend move her stuff out of her relative’s house, as they had asked her to do.

  • Tracy October 14, 2013, 1:15 pm

    Honestly, I could see it going either way. If I knew you were anxious to have my stuff out of your garage, and we were close enough that I was able to move in with you and have your key and/or code, I might not think it was a big deal to let myself in (to the garage only) and retrieve my belongings. On the other hand, when you told me that made you uncomfortable, I’d be apologetic, not angry.

    Emmy, my first thought was also to wonder why she couldn’t move in with Mom. But maybe Mom didn’t have room for her and her children, or maybe Mom doesn’t live in the same town and it would involve changing schools, commuting to work, etc.

  • Katia October 14, 2013, 1:39 pm

    I think that what the SIL did was completely out of line. It doesn’t matter if she used to live there for some period of time, she doesn’t anymore. It’s like a roommate, once they move out, they have no right to enter the area without consent of those currently living there. Additionally, while it may have been better to let DH send the message, OP did nothing wrong in addressing a situation regarding her home. It’s her home, her sanctuary, her children who may have been at risk with a random stranger that SIL decided to bring. Her family’s home, so her rules.

  • David October 14, 2013, 3:21 pm


    I agree that the first thing you need to do is change the locks and the security code. Burglar – proofing the windows and doors would be a good thing too. This is because ex-boyfriend now knows the security code and probably had access to her keys as well. Truthfully, he (ex-boyfriend) will probably never do anything with the knowledge, but it’s better to just be proactively careful.

    Let your husband handle any messages to her from now on. She has shown that she feels she can be disrespectful of you without consequence. As far as the rest of the in-laws; they’ll either get over it or they won’t.

  • Marozia October 14, 2013, 3:21 pm

    Your text was not harsh or rude. This is your house and your rules still go.
    I agree with Admin’s advice about changing locks & codes now that the ex knows combinations.
    Why don’t MIL & FIL let her stay in their house? No doubt because she’s turned their lives upside down just like yours.
    You can do without SIL’s toxicity in your lives.

  • babs October 14, 2013, 4:34 pm

    For those who are questioning the OP about why it was not OK for her SIL to enter the house that she had lived in for a few months, this time she brought her ex, which I’m thinking was the “bad relationship” she had in the first place! Doesn’t everybody feel a bit creepy about someone you don’t know being in your house while you’re gone? I sure do. And, if the son wasn’t home, she would have just punched the code in walked right in with the boyfriend. I don’t think that would have been OK with anybody. Whether she’s by herself or with her ex, the right thing for her to have done is text or call you and say “I’m picking up my stuff today, is that OK?” She was clearly in the wrong, even though she may not have thought it was a big deal.

    OP, your text to her implied that she thought you didn’t trust her. Like many have said, let your husband deal with it in the future. Parents are much more forgiving of their own children and it probably would have blown over very quickly if he was the one to make contact.

  • Kimberly Herbert October 14, 2013, 7:13 pm

    I think everyone’s advice about changing locks and codes and having DH deal with his sis is good advice as far as it went. I’m worried about the 14 yo and any other minor children that might be home without the parents, only to have Aunt and her bad relationship show up.

    I think you all should
    1. Change keys and code
    2. DH should contact his sister in written form and give her 3 – 5 days/times he will be available to be at the house for her to pick up her stuff. She needs to pick one ASAP. (LW and kids will not be home at the time she comes). She is not to show up at any other time and if she does the kids and you have been instructed to tell her to leave.
    3. Decide what you want the kids to do if she or she and bad relationship show up when they are home alone. Then drill this into the kids’ heads. (If bad relationship has 1 violent act in his past I think you should default to call the cops if he shows up).

  • Miss-E October 14, 2013, 8:10 pm

    @babs – I’m not saying that the SIL had the right to walk in whenever she pleased. Just that I can understand why she might think she was welcome to do so. It also depends on the kind of home she grew up in, my family is very much the unlocked-door-feel-free-to-enter kind, maybe SILs family is the same and she felt free to enter her brother’s house, especially after having lived there awhile.

    But, like I said, if those are OPs rules then those are the rules and I don’t think she was out of line.

  • Angel October 14, 2013, 8:27 pm

    I second post #19. And I don’t think the OP did anything wrong at all. It is her house too and she has as much right to reinforce the house rules as her husband does. What the SIL did was very disrespectful and took a hell of a lot of nerve, given that she got free room and board for 4 months!

    But knowing how the sister is, it probably would have had a better outcome if the husband sent the text to his own sister. But that doesn’t mean the OP was wrong to send the text–because what she put in there was a more than reasonable request.

    Even if the sister never ends up speaking to you guys again, (which I highly doubt judging from this story–she’ll turn up again every few years or so like a bad penny) I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. She sounds like a user with no boundaries. I would consider myself well rid of a person like this even if they are family!

  • LizaJane October 14, 2013, 9:25 pm

    I’m with Lindsay; is the ex- boyfriend that brought her to get the stuff the same person she was in the bad relationship with? I don’t think the OP states that specifically. Further, did may be the one who made the relationship bad.

    Change the codes and have your husband deal with her.

  • Lisatoo October 15, 2013, 5:18 am

    I’m so sorry that you have generously helped this person out, put up with her for FOUR months, and then recieved attitude about a ‘maybe slightly cooly worded text’.
    Put this in perspective: You let her live in your house for FOUR months, and this is the thanks you get??? She has no right to speak up about something like this in an ungrateful manner in any way.
    Don’t let anyone, including inlaws, tell you otherwise. You did her a favor, and she repayed you with drama and insults. Keep this person out of your life is at all possible, she’s not worth it by a long shot.

  • Celia October 15, 2013, 5:39 am

    Agree with admin on changing locks and codes.
    Also agree with Op that sister entering the premises without Op and her DH being home is not on.
    I do wonder however if texting is appropriate in this situation. I don’t know, sister would probably have found fault with anything that was said but I can’t help but think a phone call, from DH to sister, instead of a text would be best.
    That way the conversation can be clear, sister can’t argue that she read ‘tone’ into a text that wasn’t there etc and the conversation can be polite, friendly even, but firm.

  • Abby October 15, 2013, 7:05 am

    @ Angel- it’s not about who has the “right” to enforce house rules. If OP were the husband and the sister was related to the wife, everyone would be telling OP to let his wife deal with it. The question is, how can I get a sensitive message across without being alienated by my inlaws? The answer is, let the spouse related to the family deal with it. Allowing the spouse to do the dirty work just paints a target on his or her back for angry or unreasonable inlaws.

    OP, Admin might be right that the inlaws are not truly backing away from you personally, just the situation. However, 10 bucks says your SIL called her mother and gave her a story something like this- ‘Mom, Brother and Wife kicked me out knowing I had nowhere else to go and my kids would suffer. Than Brother’s Wife constantly hassled me to pick up my stuff knowing I had no access to a moving truck and no money to rent one. Finally, I talk Ex Boyfriend into helping me just so Brother’s Wife gets off my back, and the only time he could do it was X time. We show up, we don’t touch her stuff, we are in and out in 10 min, and my nephew saw the whole thing. Then I get a nasty text from Brother’s Wife telling me I am not welcome in her house without her there. I am stressed out and depressed and she’s kicking me while I’m down’. This is not to say this is what happened, but it is likely the story SIL spun to her mother.

    If this is indeed the case, then MIL has already picked her side without bothering to hear yours. Until she confronts you, there’s not much you can do. Some people don’t care that you help them 99% of the time- if there’s one favor they ask and you can’t deliver, they’ll hold it against you forever.

  • Elizabeth October 15, 2013, 8:56 am

    During the time that SIL lived in your home, she was a guest. GUEST. Once gone, you are now being very kind to store her possessions. She was wrong to walk in without your knowledge or permission, whether she was once a guest or not. Please change the code, ignore the family drama and look to DH to deal with this messy dysfunction.

  • Anna October 15, 2013, 9:34 am

    Hey, y’all! OP here; just wanted to thank everyone for weighing in on the situation and the advice. I’m amazed at how many of you are spot on about my SIL and her personality; I didn’t think I could convey it well over the internet.

    I also wanted to give an update and make a correction, so I’ll try not to write a novel. 😉

    I don’t know why I did, but this actually happened 2 summers ago, so in 2012. I guess I can’t accept that this summer is over or something, lol. But, I apologize for the mistake. Anyway, 2 days after the whole situation went down, DH ended up borrowing a friend’s truck and we loaded all of SIL’s stuff and took it to IL’s storage unit (we knew she was never going to come and get her stuff because she can hold a grudge when she’s upset.), then told them to tell SIL where she could get her stuff. And, that was that. We never bothered to find out if she got her stuff.

    However, she did end up back with her ex-boyfriend; in fact, about two months after she moved in with us, they were back together. It was one of those, they were together, but they can’t live together situations, so she continued to stay with us. Boyfriend is mentally abusive, lazy, and not smart with money. Before she moved in, they were constantly fighting because of financial reasons (they’ve both filed bankruptcies several times, and were still dealing with the after affects of nasty divorces), and the nastiness was escalating.

    After SIL moved out, she went back to Boyfriend, they found a new place to rent, and everything was fine for a couple of months. Then, the whole cycle started again, and she left to go live with MIL. From what I hear from MIL (because she constantly calls DH to give him updates even though he doesn’t want to know), SIL and Boyfriend are constantly on and off again. And, they still fight.

    SIL has always been an angry, unhappy person; MIL, DH and his other sisters confirm that. She’s very self-centered and entitled, and has found ways to emotionally blackmail and manipulate the ILs into giving her what she wants, and she sabotages any relationships she might be in. I could tell you LOADS of stories to give you examples, but I won’t. Just know that she’s generally just not a nice person and she uses her personality to bully her parents, especially MIL to get her way.

    It’s been a year, but the ILs still keep their distance. Whenever we did get together in the months after SIL moved out, it was painfully awkward and uncomfortable. I attempted to mingle with them, but was often pushed to the side with only DH to talk to at family functions, while his sisters and parents made it very clear who they supported. I suffer from major depression and anxiety, so their actions did not help. Since Christmas of 2012, I haven’t attended a family function, not wanting to feel uncomfortable, but have encouraged DH and the kids to go.DH has always made excuses for my absence, but I think the ILs realize the reason. Just recently, one of the other SILs has started contacting me thru Facebook and text; she’s SILs biggest supporter, so I’m a bit wary and keep the contact short and civil.

    So that’s it. I hope it wasn’t too long and that it answered any questions that y’all have. Thanks again for reading and offering advice. 🙂

  • PWH October 15, 2013, 11:17 am

    First, OP you are totally in the right here. It is your house, and no one should be entering the house without permission even if they previously lived there. Especially with a stranger.
    Like many other posters, the minute I started reading this I immediately thought the worse. I thought it would have ended with SIL walking off with not only her stuff, but perhaps some other items from the house. I’m glad that wasn’t the case. I had a friend that wasn’t so lucky. She had invited someone to stay with her because they were experiencing family problems. Later it came to light that this girl was lying about her family problems and was asked to leave. My friend got her key back, but the girl must have made a copy, because she came back some time later and helped herself to some of the friend’s belongings (pictures, makeup, jewellery, etc). It is better to be safe than sorry. Hopefully it all works out for you.

  • MichelleP October 15, 2013, 12:58 pm

    Totally agree with admin and I’m on OP’s side, especially after the update. No good deed goes unpunished. I lived with my father and his wife for a few years to get back on my feet. (Paid rent and did all the housework while there.) I still have the key to their house. None of my belongings are still there, we are family, and I wouldn’t go over there and parade through the house when they aren’t there. I wouldn’t do that to ANYONE’s home. I would be shocked and furious if I was the OP in that situation; SIL needs to grow up.

    OP, not to change the subject, but you seem like a lovely person and I hope you get help for your depression, and your husband supports you. Don’t let your ILs live in your head.