Dueling Houseguests

by admin on February 25, 2016

I have a rough situation that I would appreciate you and your Ehellion’s input. A bit of background: A few years ago, at the request of my mother, my husband and I moved in to my Great Aunt Sandy’s house to help take care of her and the property. My GA is getting on in her years and desperately needed some assistance. At the time, I had recently accepted a new job that required us to move near my GA and the timing seemed perfect. The house is quite large (five bedrooms across three floors) and it was too much for one person to handle on their own. Our goal was to stay only for a few months to help her get settled and to allow us time to find a proper home. A few months turned into a year and anytime my husband and I discussed moving out, my mother and Great Aunt Sandy would ask, “But why?!”

About a year ago, the health of my Great Uncle Roger began to deteriorate. My GU Roger lives with his son, Fred. Roger’s youngest daughter, Carol, lives a few hours away by plane. Carol heard the news and decided she would like to spend more time with her ailing father. Carol is unemployed and her husband, Bob, is a consultant and makes a quite comfortable living while telecommuting. It was assumed that Carol and Bob would stay in a hotel or with her brother, Fred. Surprisingly, she asked if Bob (and only Bob) could stay with us since we lived a few minutes away. GA Sandy agreed, although we were quite confused as to the reason why since Fred’s house had plenty of space and we barely knew Bob (we had only met him a few times over the 30 years they’d been married). But she loved Carol like family and agreed to her request, so we hosted Bob for those four weeks. It then turned into a year (on-and-off). Carol would care for her ailing father, and Bob would stay with us, often without warning.

Bob is not an easy man to live with. He commandeered our common living room and turned it into his personal office space. The house has plenty of rooms, but he felt most comfortable working where the family relaxed, interrupting our conversations or quiet time to talk about his clients. My husband and I are our own “maid service” and spend the whole of Saturday cleaning the house top-to-bottom. Bob would conveniently be visiting Carol and her family when Saturday rolled around. He constantly left dirty dishes and pans in the sink, never took out the trash, and left lights on in every room of the house. At one point during his stay, it began to snow quite heavily outside. Bob stomped around the house, yelling about how much he hates snow. As the snow continued to fall, he decided to he would clear the driveway and snow around our cars. I peeped out the window to find Bob with the snow shovel trying to use it to shovel snow off my car! I ran downstairs and kindly suggested he wait until tomorrow to finish. But it was too late. My car had scratches from the snow shovel and a broken mirror, to boot. Bob never apologized or even acknowledged the damage to the car. When I walked in and told my husband and GA Sandy about the broken mirror, he expressed mild surprise and quickly left the room.

My GA Sandy decided to become a Snow Bird and flew to Florida for the Winter. She asked if my husband and I could stay with the house until she returned, upon which we would move into our home that is currently being built. We were looking forward to having the house to ourselves until I was surprised with an e-mailed flight confirmation from Aunt Carol. Guess who’s back! My husband and I have no idea what to do. While the house is not ours, it is one that my GA said we could use as we wish until her return. And we are simply not able to prepare the house for uninvited guests since I will be traveling soon for work. We would appreciate any suggestions to help steel our polite spine. Since, as GA Sandy would say, “He’s family and family comes first!”    11-24-15

The situation is simple and obvious.  Both you and your husband and cousin-in-law Bob are houseguests of Great Aunt Sandy.   Both houseguests intended to stay only a short time, a few weeks to a few months, but both ended up extending their stay to over a year with Great Aunt Sandy being very gracious with her hospitality.    I’ll assume that since Great Aunt Sandy has the financial means to be a Snowbird during winter that she has and continues to pay for the mortgage thus releasing you and your husband from a financial burden to pay rent or a mortgage in exchange for caring for her and the property.  So, you have a nifty arrangement where, for one day’s work a week, you get to live in a lovely house rent free.

Great Aunt Sandy can invite whomever she wishes to stay in her large house and as a guest yourself, there isn’t much you can do about this.   You made an arrangement to swap care for free boarding but other guests are not obligated to negotiate that kind of deal or any deal for that matter.   Bob came into the picture as a guest only with no strings attached to his staying at GA Sandy’s.    Great Aunt Sandy did not appear to be disrupted by Bob’s makeshift office in the living room unless becoming a snowbird was her passive aggressive way of avoiding Bob.

So, your lack of a polite spine was in not standing up for having a house of your own and moving out to be the masters of your own domain.   I’m dubious about the need for a live-in family to “care of her” since Great Aunt Sandy has no issues whatsoever with packing up, getting on an airplane and living alone for months during winter.   So, move out.   It’s as simple as that unless you have indentured yourself to Great Aunt Sandy as a means to save money for the house being built.   Until the house has been finished and is habitable, you and the husband suck it up, do what you agreed to do and count the days until you can leave.   What happens to Bob and how he trashes the house then becomes an issue between him and GA Sandy.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

abby February 25, 2016 at 9:02 am

I agree with Admin, and find it baffling that an elderly woman that needed daily assistance from her grandniece could, a year later, move down to FL by herself. Maybe she lives in some kind of assisted living facility while there?

Yeah, OP, I don’t think there’s much you can do to block Bob from staying. Aunt Sandy lets him stay there as a favor to Carol. If you’re not paying rent, I would consider tolerating Bob’s presence to be a fair trade. You could try asking him though to please clean up after himself.

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starstruck February 25, 2016 at 9:11 am

Yea I agree. The only thing you can do is move out . I do find it strange though that bob would live with yall and not his own wife. Thats just weird. And the fact that he doesn’t clean up after himself makes it worse. I’ve had the messy roommate who wouldn’t clean. Never again. If the money is there I would get a cheap apartment while waiting for the house you are moving into. But whatever u do I wouldn’t clean up after bob anymore. You agreed to do that for your aunt. Not a grown man who is lazy.

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PJ February 25, 2016 at 10:09 am

I agree with Admin on this.

The things you can’t control:
Great Aunt Sandy allowing guests in her home, regardless of length of stay.
Bob taking advantage of that generosity, maybe too much, and taking advantage of your housekeeping.
Bob being clueless (shoveling off a *car*? really?)

The things you can control:
Where you live, and when you choose to move.
Your relationship with Great Aunt Sandy.

I’d also suggest that you can also ask Bob to pay the deductible on car repairs for damage he did. It may not go over well.

If the benefits of living with GA are outweighed by the disadvantages, then it is time to go. There’s no reason not to be totally honest about it, though. You can tell all interested parties (ie: GA and Mom) that you are not willing to put up with Bob’s treatment. Maybe GA will change her mind or lay down the law with Bob as a houseguest, maybe not. You can then decide when enough is enough for you to leave.

It is sad that the Bobs of the world can throw such a wrench into our orderly lives! 🙂

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Lisa H. February 25, 2016 at 10:45 am

WOW.. the OP needs to get a grip on reality. Agree with Admin; suck it up cupcake.
We are not disappointed that we got too little; it’s that we expect too much!! She needs to appreciate what she has.

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AnaMaria February 27, 2016 at 10:59 am

I’m sorry, but this is inexcusably harsh and I find it ironic that you are using such a tone on an etiquette website. The OP is in her current living arrangement because her GA wanted her there. I see no implication that she is out of touch with reality or thinks she is entitled to anything other than common courtesy from Bob. She is simply asking if there is a good way to approach an awkward situation. If the answer is, “move out,” then so be it, but there is no reason to address her like a 19-year-old complaining that her parents are exploiting her by asking her to clean the bathroom once a week!

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NostalgicGal February 25, 2016 at 10:53 am

This is a difficult at best. OP’s best situation is to get moved out of there and leave Bob to GA Sandy, I’m afraid. Bob is being ‘the world is his ashtray’…. and without the house being yours, not much else to be done.

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Anonymous February 25, 2016 at 11:10 am

I think this is partly an “Assertiveness Heck” thing. Most adults should know to clean up after themselves, not commandeer public areas of the house, and to use a snow brush to remove snow from a parked car, NOT a shovel, but clearly, Bob doesn’t. So, maybe it’s time for the OP couple to ask for what they need–for Bob to clean up his dishes, participate in the housework (it wouldn’t even have to be on Saturday; he could clean something on a different day to lighten the load when the OP and her husband do their major Saturday cleaning), to set up his office in a more private room in the house, and where the snow brushes are kept for next time, but that he still needs to pay for the damage he caused to the OP’s car in the meantime. Maybe Bob just doesn’t know, because Carol’s always done the housework, and the snow shovelling (or paid a neighbourhood kid to shovel), and put up with his selfish behaviour in general. Also, I find it rather telling that Carol wanted JUST BOB to move in with the OP–I have a feeling that they might be separating, and Carol simply doesn’t want Bob around anymore. Maybe it’s because she finds his behaviour annoying too.

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Devin February 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm

I was thinking Bob wasn’t staying with GU because of the reason he needs home care. Maybe dementia or Alzheimer’s where ‘strangers’ can trigger unexpected emotions or actions from the people suffering from them. I empathize with OP for having several elder family members needing care. I’m sure she is feeling stress from the situation.

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Michelleprieur February 26, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Sorry, no. Neither Bob nor the aunt seem like they require care. The OP is upset that someone else has intruded on her and her husband’s free ride.

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keloe February 26, 2016 at 1:33 pm

I think it’s supposed to mean that Great Uncle Roger requires care – provided by his son and daughter, Bob’s wife – and Bob’s presence in his house might be a problem.

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Amanda H. February 26, 2016 at 3:15 pm

Devin didn’t say that Bob needed care, but GU (Carol’s father) needed it, and maybe Bob is staying away because he could trigger unexpected and unwanted reactions from GU.

I, personally, figured that maybe Bob didn’t like GU for some reason (or vice versa), but Devin’s explanation is just as plausible.

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Michelle February 27, 2016 at 1:31 am

What a rude response! OP has mentioned that every time she talks about moving out, she is asked to stay. That is NOT a free ride. Frankly, I’d be rather upset too if I was pressured i to living somewhere and expected to put up with such a boar.

Not sure where you got “free ride” out of her car being damaged, either.

If she is caring for the home and being asked to stay, then her status goes beyond that of a simple houseguest and she therefore should have more say over the type of behavior this jerk is allowed to get away with in a living space she is being asked to stay in. With Sandy gone, I also think she should have the right to flat out refuse Bob’s invasion, or at leadt the right to lay some ground rules. “No touching my car” should be numero uno.

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Jessica February 27, 2016 at 11:00 pm

I thought that too, she isnt a guest it is her HOME she was expected to be there to care for the Aunt. I do not think she has a free ride, do people know how hard it is to care for someone? She might have gone to a nursing place for the winter we do not know. I think the Admin was out of order this time sorry. They did the ausnt and her mother a favour staying as long as they did now they are expected to stay and care for the house while the aunt is away and have to put up with their lives being interrupted by a guest in their home?

Miss-E February 29, 2016 at 8:56 am

She isn’t there to care for her GA. I’m sure she’s helpful in caring for the house but seeing as GA just went off to Florida for the winter it seems pretty unlikely that she needs round-the-clock care from her grandniece. Like Admin said, she can’t demand that Bob leave or even really put her foot down because it isn’t her home. She’s just going to have to grin and bear it until her house is ready.

Michelleprieur March 1, 2016 at 12:59 pm

I may have been harsh, but I fail to see how your pointing out my rudeness was any less rude. I apologize for the misunderstanding of Devin’s post. I stand by my comment, however. The OP does not own the home and from what I can see, does not pay expenses. That’s a guest. If it’s that bad there, leave.

Michelleprieur March 1, 2016 at 1:00 pm

My reply was to Michelle.

Jessica, as a nurse I absolutely know how hard it is to care for someone. I don’t think that’s the case here.

Angela February 25, 2016 at 11:12 am

Sigh….I agree with the Admin. The only thing you can do is ask Bob to pay for any personal items that he breaks, and ask him to clean up after himself.

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JWH February 25, 2016 at 11:30 am

I think these long-term situations are better set up as rental situations then houseguest situations. If OP had leased furnished rooms from Aunt Sandy, or leased the (furnished) house from Aunt Sandy, in exchange for a token rent (say, $50 a month) and the understanding that Aunt Sandy could come back and live there, then this would hardly be an issue.

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Calli Arcale February 25, 2016 at 12:42 pm

One thing I’m not clear on — was Carol telling you or GA Sandy that Bob will be coming again? If she only communicated with you, then the proper response would be “I’m sorry, but I’m a guest in this house myself, and Sandy won’t be here this time. I’m not comfortable agreeing to guests for her, so you should contact her and ask if it’s all right.” Sandy will almost certainly say yes, at which time then, as admin said, you have to suck it up and deal with it. It’s not your house. If more of your own property is damaged, you could consider taking Bob to small claims court, but otherwise, just put up with it.

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Livvy17 February 25, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Generally, I agree with Ms. Jeanne’s assessment – it’s not your house to give or deny per se, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t directly talk to Bob and tell him in no uncertain terms that you are not his servants, and that he needs to pull his weight. The second he puts a dish in the sink, remind him to wash it and put it away. When he talks on the phone when you’re watching TV in the living room, turn it up, and if he complains about the noise, remind him that this is a common room, if he needs quiet he could go to a quiet, private room. If he damages your property, insist that he pay for it. You don’t really have the authority to rescind his invitation, but as caretakers, you can dictate the daily operations. As you’re not his hosts, but his housemates, you don’t have to treat him like a guest.

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Mizz Etiquette February 25, 2016 at 3:59 pm

This. This. And this.

You’re having to share a space and everyone needs to be respectful of others. If Bob can’t handle that, then rent an apartment short-term and leave him in the house alone (informing GA Sandy of your departure, of course).

Once Sandy returns and finds her house in disarray, I would bet she’d start speaking up real quick.

And one big question: Bob damaged your car. Why wasn’t he asked to pay for it? That’s ridiculous!

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Anon February 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm

I agree with this. The OP cannot really deny Bob access to the house. However, in Aunt Sally’s absence, the OP, her husband and Bob become housemates with equal say over the household. When he arrives, tell him he cannot set up his office in the living room, and if he does, you will continue to make use of the space as a living room. Don’t clean up after him, and put pressure on to make sure he cleans up after himself. Since you are a guest in someone else’s house, there are limits to your control, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stick up for yourself as housemates in the absence of a host.

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Cat February 25, 2016 at 12:49 pm

It does seem rather simple to resolve this by moving out of her house and into your own. Your great aunt can hire a housekeeper to clean and Bob will be auntie’s problem and not yours.

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Lady Catford February 25, 2016 at 4:59 pm

My thoughts exactly. Get out Now. This situation will not end well.

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ally February 25, 2016 at 12:55 pm

Why did OP run tattling to Great Aunt Sally instead of presenting Bob with a bill for the damage to the car? That has nothing to do with being a house guest.

OP, it seems from this post that you are sitting back silently, hoping for Great Aunt Sally to read your mind and lay down some house rules for you. It won’t happen.

You and Bob are both guests, with your status somewhat firmer since you’re a long term guest. Hash it out with Bob directly. If he’s interrupting conversations, ask him to please wait until you’re finished speaking. Assuming he is asking for quiet to talk to his clients, you tell him the living room is a common area and I’d he wants privacy, go to another room. Don’t alter your behavior.

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Dee February 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

I’m with Admin. I have no idea what the OP is complaining about. Great Aunt Sandy is in control of her house and if OP doesn’t like it then she’s free to leave. Instead, she complains and stays. Sounds like OP just wants to be a martyr. I have no patience for martyrs and their constant need for pity attention. It’s so incredibly selfish.

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lakey February 25, 2016 at 12:57 pm

I agree that since OP isn’t the home owner she is limited in what she can do about Bob. However, I think that it would be fine for OP and her husband to tell Bob that he needs to help with household chores. If he doesn’t follow through, there isn’t much they can do, but they can at least try. I’ve lived with roommates who didn’t do much as far as household upkeep. Sometimes if you tell them what you expect, they at least improve. Some of our problems are due to the fact that we don’t like to speak up, so we silently get resentful.
Also, if he is clueless enough to use a metal or hard plastic shovel on a car, I wouldn’t let him anywhere near the laundry.

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Shoegal February 25, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I find the entire matter to be quite odd. If GA Sandy needed help living there etc etc – then I would expect that living there temporarily wouldn’t fix the problem. But problem solved since the OP and her husband stayed on for a year. Why the heck would Bob want to come live with strangers (although relatives by marriage) and away from his wife? There must be more to this story that he wouldn’t go live with Carol in Fred’s house. I mean, where the heck does Carol and Bob live that they could up and leave their home for an extended amount of time and not be concerned about getting back there. Since it doesn’t seem as if Carol and Bob spend much time together anyway – why doesn’t he just go on home?

Living with Aunt Sandy must be rather pleasant because why else would the OP and her husband want to stay for an entire year caring for an elderly woman and cleaning her house. For my myself, I would want privacy – I would really want to be in my own home and I certainly wouldn’t want to be forced to live with Bob. But again, if the OP and her husband lived with Bob for a year (off and on) he probably isn’t as bad as all that. I also agree with the Admin that GA Sandy doesn’t sound as if she needs care if she can move out to Florida and live alone for the winter. As to the question at hand, it’s Sandy’s house – the OP has no right to stipulate who gets to stay there or not.

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KarenK February 26, 2016 at 10:01 am

I can’t speak to why Bob can’t stay and her Uncle’s house, but the OP states that Carol is unemployed, and Bob is a consultant who can work from anywhere.

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Becca February 26, 2016 at 3:33 pm

After re-reading the post again, I’m wondering if Bob doesn’t get along with his father in law? Perhaps there’s some sort of bad blood and FIL isn’t keen on him at the house, possibly because he’s a bit of a messy loud boar :X Perhaps instead of standing up to her husband, Carol decided to get Bob t stay elsewhere, with folks who won’t stand up to him either.

That’s my far reaching assumption when thinking it over at least! Since OP states she’s unsure why Bob can’t stay over there either. Sounds like something other than space. Maybe Great Uncle cannot handle Hubby and since he’s ailing and his daughter is visiting more to help him, not hinder, they dump Bob off at nice, accommodating Auntie’s house!

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Ernie February 25, 2016 at 3:29 pm

I agree with the Admin’s take on this.

I’m not sure why Great Aunt’s living room turned into “our common living room”, and a stay at the Great Aunt’s house became “stay with us”.

I’m not sure what “prepare the house for uninvited guests” means. First, if Bob was told by the Great Aunt that he could stay there, then he is not uninvited. Since he doesn’t seem to have much of a standard of how clean things need to be, then what, if any, preparations need to be made? If the OP and her husband clean the house every week, then it should be ready for use.

Another thing that rubs me the wrong way about this is the part where they do the cleaning on Saturdays, and Bob is always gone on Saturday. Not everyone is going to clean on someone else’s schedule. I don’t like it when people unilaterally set an arbitrary time/schedule to do something, then get angry when others don’t conform to it.

As for the car damage…I’d probably just present Bob with a estimate amount for the needed repairs.

I recently was a part-time guest in my parent’s home while my fiance and I searched for a home to purchase. When their way of living came to get on my nerves a bit, my response was to step up the effort of buying our own home, not to complain about the conditions of the kind hospitality they had offered me. I knew that my feelings conflicted with the reality of the rules/running of their home, and that the onus was on me to make life better for myself, not the other way around.

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abby February 25, 2016 at 4:37 pm

“my GA said we could use as we wish until her return. And we are simply not able to prepare the house for uninvited guests since I will be traveling soon for work. We would appreciate any suggestions to help steel our polite spine”

In response to your question about how GA’s house has morphed into OP’s house, it sounds as though OP feels that GA saying, ‘use this house as you wish’ to mean, ‘consider this your own house and make rules accordingly’.

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Devin February 25, 2016 at 3:30 pm

I’m wondering if there was never any clear communication between OP and her great aunt on the expectations of the living situation? It sounds like it was all arranged through the mother and could have been a situation where the GA needed some assistance, wouldn’t ask for it, but was happy to have the couple move in as ‘house guests’. It also sounds like the OP thought they would be more ‘care givers’ than guests. In either case, you are close to the end of your stay so try and muster through it. If there continues to be an issue with Bob taking advantage of the living situation, still not cleaning up after himself when its just him and GA; speak with Carol (as his wife I would think she would pop by the house occasionally to see her husband) since it seems she is closer with your family. Maybe phrase it as “We’ll be moving out soon, and GA needs help keeping up after this big house. Could Bob pitch in and help when he stays here so she doesn’t get overwhelmed?”
Additionally, I think him never being around on Saturdays could be that was the day Carol had someone else to help out with her GU, and she was free to spend with her husband. Try switching cleaning days and see if he magically has plans on those days now.

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Mustard February 25, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I’m wondering whether OP’s mother ‘leaned’ on Great Aunt Sandy to help out her daughter and son in law while they were saving to buy a house?

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Devin March 1, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Good point, I can also see that being the situation.

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Michelle February 25, 2016 at 3:57 pm

While I agree with a good bit of Admin’s advice, I think Bob should have some common courtesy while he’s there, no matter whose house it is.

GA Sandy is not innocent in this and, to some extent, OP’s mom. OP& her husband are not really “guests”, as in they are there to provide support and presumably companionship. GA Sandy should have said something to Bob,especially since OP & husband are there as daily, live-in caregivers and not “drop-in” guests. If they are expected to live there and take care of GA Sandy, some consideration should be extended to them.

I think the situation is OP’s mom wanted someone to be there to sort of “watch over” GA Sandy so instead of making arrangements for care or OP’s mom moving in and living with GA Sandy, they dangled they “rent-free” carrot over OP & husband’s head and they thought they would have a place to stay until they could get settled. I think GA Sandy kept telling them to stay because she like the companionship and convenience of having live-in caretakers. I do agree with Admin that if GA Sandy can fly to FLA for months and be fine, she doesn’t need as much “assistance” as originally told to OP.

While OP & her husband are in the house and GA Sandy is in FLA, OP & husband are de facto owners of the house and I think they could laid down some ground rules: Bob has to clean-up behind himself ( he’s an adult!), he needs to pick another room to use as an office and he has display common courtesy to everyone living in/staying in the house. If he can’t abide by 3 simple rules, he could find other accommodations. If GA Sandy gets upset, well OP & husband are going to be out soon anyway.

Personally, I would pay to get a small apt until my home was done instead putting with Bob. If he scratched my car with a snow shovel, he would pay for repairs or get sued.

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lakey February 26, 2016 at 5:45 pm

“While OP & her husband are in the house and GA Sandy is in FLA, OP & husband are de facto owners of the house ”

Not unless Aunt Sandy agreed to it, they aren’t. They really aren’t in a position to make demands on Bob, even if he isn’t pulling his weight. Sometimes family members make these informal deals, without clearly spelling out what is expected of each side. When a lot of the “deal” was made through a third party, the mom, things can be even more unclear.
The thing is, OP is getting a lot out of this deal. A year of not having to pay rent is pretty nice. The best she can do with Bob is to try to work with him.

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Pam March 1, 2016 at 10:23 pm

The only real issue I see is that Bob made messes and expected OP and her husband to clean up after him. If I’m a guest at someone’s house, I clean up after myself but the responsibility for meals and housecleaning falls on the homeowner. That’s why this situation seems different. If OP is doing all the household chores, then the relationship of guest/owner is changed. You’re not really a guest if you’re doing the normal household chores. I would think the simplest solution is for OP to tell her GA the issues and see what she says. If it’s not a big enough deal to trouble GA over, then just bite the bullet until OP and her husband move out.

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JD February 25, 2016 at 4:15 pm

I’m a little confused. OP said they were asked to move in to be what sounds like caregivers and household help, their “pay” being a free place to stay. I’m not sure “houseguest” is an accurate description of the OP’s situation. The waters are muddied somewhat by this being a family situation, but still, that’s how it sounded to me. Great Aunt Sandy may be going to Florida to stay with other family or friends, not necessarily alone. Maybe knowing that her house is cared for gives her the freedom to visit others while she’s still able. That’s not uncommon here in Florida at all.
That being said, if Great Aunt Sandy says Bob can stay anytime, OP should certainly ask him to clean up after himself and such, but she can’t tell him not to come, no matter how often or long his visits are. The visits are weird, though. Why does he even come on these visits if he stays apart from his wife? Can’t they be apart just as well with him at home? Maybe Carol’s brother can’t stand him either?

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Kirsten February 25, 2016 at 4:42 pm

I’m not sure that the OP is providing care for Sandy. She just says the house is too big for one person and they take care of it for her.

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Becca February 26, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Good point, they’re probably taking care of the home more so than Auntie. An elderly lady may have plenty of energy to be retired, snowbirding and all. Just who wants to be that age and cleaning a 5 bedroom house? Maybe it’s the alternative to her having a housekeeper, maintenance man and someone to watch the home when she leaves on vacations!

It could also be projecting the need to assist an aging relative in some way. You want someone nearby who can see if Auntie takes a fall or falls ill suddenly, not necessarily that she has anything particularly wrong with her in this case.

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Jays February 25, 2016 at 6:40 pm

I have some sympathy for the OP, but I also have some confusion.

If the OP and her husband moved in to take care of Great Aunt Sandy, I’d say they’re due some of the rights of homeownership, at least on a temporary basis. (That’s a pretty big favor, even in return for free rent.)

But … then she didn’t need the care? Enough so that she could live in Florida on her own? That makes it sound like the OP and DH are just houseguests, albeit long-term ones.

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AnaMaria February 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm

My mom has had some serious health issues due to the cold in the winter- her hands and feet turn yellow and cause her hours of severe pain if she is out in the cold too long, and she is vulnerable to frostbite. Unfortunately, she also burns after a few minutes in the sun, so the snowbird route wouldn’t work for her. It is possible, though, that GA may also have trouble tolerating the cold as she ages and, if she has a good place to stay in Florida, might be better off there than paying for heat and healthcare in a cold climate.

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stacey February 25, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I wonder what this story would look like from Bob’s perspective? Or from Great Aunt Sandy’s? In any case, there is no way to be certain who the fly in the ointment is from the information included. Is Bob attempting to remove OP and her husband from the home at his wife’s behest? Is OP taking de facto “ownership” of a property that is not hers? And what of poor, uncomplaining OP’s husband? Moving out makes the most sense. Clarifying timelines and expectations is overdue as well, but I agree with Admin that you have benefited from the arrangement. So has Bob and (apparently) Aunt Sandy. Even if he is an unhelpful roommate with a childish attitude about snow and the desire to scratch the paint of innocent cars in a fit of pique, he will soon be your problem no longer. Meanwhile, perhaps this could be filed under Lessons Learned and you can speak up a bit sooner and more firmly when people leave their dishes for you to wash or damage your property. That you do have standing to speak about. The other questions (who is staying, when and why)… well, you don’t.

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Roslyn February 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

Actions speak louder than words. Did you ever stop to think that Bob doesn’t clean up after himself because you do? He puts dishes in the sink and you clean them. He leaves a mess and you clean it. Your own actions are saying to him “don’t worry about this Bob, I’ll take care of it”. If he scratched your car and didn’t offer to pay for damage, well, did you ask for him to repair your car? No? Well, then your actions told him not to worry about it.

The solution is simple. You are both guests in someone elses home. Different levels of “guestdom” but guests. When he arrives you tell him that he needs to clean up after himself from now on. You will take care of your personal cleaning for yourself (and your husband) and your husband and you will continue with the whole house, but he is expected to clean up after his personal use in the kitchen, bathroom and living areas. You aren’t his mother, you don’t nag and moan and bitch at him. However, if he is clueless about cleaning up after himself he might need guidance. If he can’t figure out how to clean off snow from a car and walkways etc, he may truly be that clueless about how to clean up after himself.

After you finally move into your own home, then his issues will be solely the problem of your GA.

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Becca February 26, 2016 at 12:29 pm

This sounds like someone who feels that because they were there ‘first’ they have some sort of extra dibs on the home of a relative they are staying with.

I understand why Bob’s behavior is annoying you, OP. However you do not have any authority to do anything, you are also a guest. If he damaged your property, you need to ask him to pay for it or to file an insurance claim against his auto insurance perhaps? That sounds like a brain fart on his part.

It sounds like a cooped up situation. There is essentially enough room for all four of you but you feel intruded upon by that one extra body. If he’s in the living room, speak with him about him about it. Or speak to your auntie, it’s her call. If she’s not bothered, then leave it be.

You need your own space. I had similar issues with my parents when I lived with them as an adult. I paid rent and we split all the bills, only because I demanded they take my money, my mom pulled the “I don’t want to charge my daughter!” card. NO, you pay them rent, no matter what. You view it as a roommate situation in that way or you are at their mercy as others have pointed out.

How do you know Auntie didn’t say “Come by ANY TIME!” and that’s why they send confirmations without anything else? Or they’re not telling Auntie before coming and you are just not informed because it’s not your home? Also since you seem passive about it, Auntie may not think it’s any problem. Especially since she’s gracious enough to tell you when she’s snowbirding to just make yourself comfy and completely at home. You are not her only family she treats like that, she seems very kind, gracious and like she has no problem with the situation.

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InTheEther February 26, 2016 at 4:49 pm

I agree that as it is the Aunt’s house the OP and husband don’t have too much room to say anything about Bob staying. That doesn’t make it any less annoying. Op and the husband are actually living there, as opposed to using it as a hotel and as part of the agreement with the Aunt they seem to have taken over most of the maintenance, so I do think they have some room to lay down some basic cleanliness rules and ask Bob to keep his business stuff in a specific place (aka not the living room). Can’t do much about his choice in conversation topics other than make your disinterest clear and trying to change the subject. Since they are so close to moving out though, it may not be worth the fight and they can just grit their teeth for this one last visit.

Even if they were on the same level of guest, as opposed to them actually living there (even if temporarily), it is annoying when you’re trying to be a good guest and someone else is doing the exact opposite. And raking the car with a shovel was just plain stupid.

Why is this guy coming to the state? I mean, Carol makes sense. Bob coming with because the couple don’t want to be separated for that long would make sense, if they were actually spending time together (other than part of Saturdays). His presence just seems pointless, and why would you want to be away from your own place and all your stuff if there isn’t a trade off?

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Jessica February 27, 2016 at 11:49 pm

The problem I have here is that the OP and her husband are not occasional or drop in guests they LIVE at the house. GA sandy might own it but they are residents there, the same way tenants are, they just pay with the care of the aunt and the home probably because as they said it is too big for one person, the aunt would have to give it up if there were not other people to care for it. This also frees her up to go away when she likes (and btw it doesnt not say she went to florida alone, she could have been staying with relatives who would provide temporary care for her) OP and her husband were doing great Aunt a huge favour, admittedly it helped them too in the short term but they kept being asked to stay when they went to get their own place, they are being asked to stay while she is away too. This is their HOME, it doesnt matter if they pay rent with money or care. I think its a bit rough to say ‘come and stay with me, help me out, look after my house and myself but give up the comforts of home and relaxation and consider yourself lucky for it’.

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abby February 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

I think it’s fair to consider themselves tenants instead of long term houseguests, who’s “rent” is not monetary but comes in the form of labor. However, where the lines is blur is what their actual domain is.

If I rent an apartment from someone, I have no control over who the landlord lets live in the other units, just because I pay rent in my unit. However, the landlord can’t move someone into MY unit with the rationale that he or she owns the building and therefore has control over the space I pay for. So, what the issue really boils down to is what is the OP’s space? Is it the house, or a room in the house? No clear lines were drawn but given that the situation is very temporary, I still feel Admin’s advice is valid, and that OP should grit her teeth for the remainder of the time and then move out. Her inconvenience is being compensated by the savings she can put towards her new house.

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Library Diva February 29, 2016 at 12:09 pm

I agree, jessica. I’m kind of baffled by the undercurrent of “bad freeloading OP” in many of these responses, including admin’s. OP mentioned that they do one day a week of heavy housecleaning. She didn’t say that was all she did. She and her husband were invited there, are clearly welcome there, and were even asked to stay with Aunt Sandy’s place until she returned from her winter getaway. Given that, I don’t think bolting is the answer, even if their new home was ready, since Sandy asked them to stay until she got back and they agreed to do it. I think first-time snowbirds are always nervous leaving their homes for that long. The first time my parents did, they asked me to come every week. By their last year, if I mentioned I’d been out twice in a month, they seemed to find it excessive.

The Bob situation is a tough one, and I’m not sure OP has much of a leg to stand on in barring him from the house, since it’s really Aunt Sandy’s call. They could always just ask Carol and Bob if Bob wouldn’t mind staying with Carol or in a hotel just this one time, invoking their plans to be out of town and unable to be much of a host, but they’d have to be prepared for a “no.” They can rebut it by saying, “In that case, Bob, we’re going to have to ask you to do your own dishes, to take out the trash when you leave, and to ____ (insert anything else you want him to do). We just won’t be able to help out very much.”

Whatever happens, some perspective is helpful. OP, it’s almost March. Aunt Sandy will probably be back in another month or two, you and your husband will be in your new place, and the Bob thing will just be an unpleasant memory. And look at it as a positive. If Aunt Sandy gets tired of Bob, Carol might have asked you. Had you not had this experience, you might have agreed. Since you have, you’ll be able to keep him from messing up your own home.

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Cheryl February 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm

In this case it is GA Sandy’s house, if you ask her if it is ok and she oks it then it is up to her but if you can’t then it is up to you. What bob did to your car was unacceptable and I would have said something to him and had him pay for damages. As for anything else that bob did, that would be up to GA Sandy to say something. You will move out soon and not have to deal with any of it, if bob stays there then he will have to be a descent house guest, otherwise, talk to Carol and explain the situation. I am betting that Fred experienced this and informed Carol that she can stay but Bob can’t which by the sounds of it, is fine with her.

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Herring March 1, 2016 at 11:33 am

Yes, Bob should pay for the damage to your car. It would be really interesting to hear from Great Aunt Sandy whether she thinks this arrangement is for OP’s benefit or GA’s benefit.

But, does no one else in this comments section live in an area where it is common and necessary to shovel off cars? Where I was raised in western New York, you shovel off the first two-plus feet of snow, then brush off the last six inches. Only really clumsy people end up scraping their cars that way.

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Michelleprieur March 1, 2016 at 1:10 pm

I’m confused as to why some posters here seem to think that the admin or anyone else said that the Op or her husband can’t ask Bob to clean up after himself, etc. I certainly didn’t say that. I agree that Bob should clean up after himself.

For the record, my daughter and I lived with my father and his wife for 3 years a few years ago. I paid rent, did all the housework and cooked. Was I still a guest? Yes. Was it my house? No.

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Cat2 March 2, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Honestly, at this point, I would say “suck it up and deal”.

Truly, how much “preparation” could the house need for a guest? If it’s not in the previous spic and span shape you’re saying it was before, then simply tell Bob “Yes, we wanted to make sure we didn’t create an uncomfortable situation for Sandy, and we’ll have it back in shape before we leave, but in the meantime, we’ve relaxed some about cleaning up everything instantly. If you could just take care of whatever mess you make, that would be really appreciated.”

IMO, where you went wrong was not having a conversation with GA Sandy a long time ago. She’s the host, it’s her house, she’s asked you to stay as permanent houseguests, and that means that it’s up to her to deal with other problematic guests. She could certainly have communicated to Bob that if he was going to be staying there so much, he needed to clean up after himself, and he needed to pick a room that wasn’t the communal hang-out room to act as his “office”, because he was inconveniencing everyone else and he was there too often for that to continue. And if Bob didn’t get the message, communicate to Carol that it was not going to be possible to keep hosting Bob for her because he was not a well-behaved guest.

Sandy might have chosen not to do those things, but then that also significantly freed you up – because she was willing to ask you to stay for her benefit, but not manage her other houseguests for yours when they became a problem? You may want to help her out, she may want you to, but not at that cost.

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