Etiquette Corner: Home Sweet Home

By: Erin Newkirk

Dear Erin

I very much enjoy your etiquette section and have a question of my own. I rent an apartment from a dear lady. I am very grateful for the location and size as it is perfect for a single girl. The problem, however is that my landlady has increasingly "visited" for no particular reason. She will come down without asking and just start talking. I have always been told that I listen well, and have had to deal with this with very chatty friends, but the problem is she is always around. I had a friend over the other day and I found her sitting in my living room, talking his ear off. I didn't know how to nicely ask her to leave!

I don't want to be rude, but I need to find a firm way to explain that I would like her to respect the space as my home. Can you suggest a way?  I really would like to continue to rent from her on good terms, and I don't want her to be hurt.



Dear Jenni,

You are a dear soul. Complimenting me, worrying about others. Kindness is such a virtue! 

Alas, at the end of the day, you need to make sure you aren't confusing kindness for silence when it comes to what is rightfully yours. Privacy. You pay for it, you need it. And in the end, it's what's best for both. 

So start off by letting your landlady know what a wonderful person she is, how much you love her company, and how appreciative you are to have found her/your apartment. That being said, like most people who live alone, you value your privacy. Which is one of the reasons you fell in love with the place. While you love seeing her from time to time, it would be best to schedule visits together rather than fielding unannounced drop-ins. Hopefully she will pick up what you are laying down and give you some space. But, if she doesn't and continues to come around unannounced, do not feel rude about saying kind but firm good-byes like, "Ok. Great to see you, but now I'm going to..." If she actually pops into your space, physically stand up and walk her to the door.

Chances are, you aren't the first renter she's had that has felt this way. But hopefully, assuming she doesn't have deeper issues, you can be the one who does the right thing by helping her understand that inappropriate clinginess does not a friendship make. If you don't stand up for your rights, you will start feeling resentful and bitter. And eventually, you will be out a great apartment.

Be strong! Be honest! Your home is your respite! You can do this.



Have an etiquette question for Erin? Email her at [email protected] for a chance to be featured in the Etiquette Corner!

(photo: kathy jv)