Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dick­in­son

Dear Amy: My hus­band and I rented our house to friends ap­prox­i­mately two years ago, for sub­stan­tially BE­LOW-mar­ket rent.

Shortly after they moved in, prop­erty val­ues started go­ing up and we hinted that we would like to sell the prop­erty when they va­cated it.

About six months after their lease ended, we thought they were get­ting ready to move out. How­ever, they broad­sided us with news that the hus­band had can­cer. We told them not to worry about mov­ing at that point. We feel that we have been pa­tient and un­der­stand­ing with them, while they have made mul­ti­ple, ma­jor de­mands of us.

Things came to a head when the wife de­manded that we re­wire the en­tire house, after they had overloaded the cir­cuit breaker with mul­ti­ple space heaters!

Fast-for­ward an­other six months and now they are not talk­ing to us and have no plans to move out un­til next year at the ear­li­est. We have taken a loss on the rent for nearly two years now — to the tune of al­most $10,000! We feel that re­gard­less of the can­cer is­sue, we need to give them no­tice to move out. What do you think? Are we be­ing un­rea­son­able and heart­less? — Catch 22

Dear Catch 22: Your ten­ants are pay­ing the rent, and even though the rent is be­low-mar­ket value, you set the amount. You should re­search the laws in your state, but ac­cord­ing to my re­search, they are “ten­ants at will,” which means that they have stayed on be­yond the end of their lease, with your per­mis­sion. They are ba­si­cally rent­ing month-tomonth, and would have to move as long as you gave them 30-day’s no­tice in writ­ing.

You have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­vide a safe home while they are rent­ing, and they are re­spon­si­ble for any dam­age they do to your home. They can de­mand any­thing they want to de­mand, but you don’t have to make changes un­less these are nec­es­sary re­pairs. If they are plug­ging in mul­ti­ple space heaters, it sounds like your fur­nace may need ser­vic­ing.

Be­cause of your ten­ant’s health prob­lems, the com­pas­sion­ate thing to do would be for you to give them plenty of no­tice be­fore they are re­quired to va­cate the prop­erty — per­haps by the first of the year. Their move-out date should be your choice, not theirs. Con­sult an at­tor­ney to put this no­tice in writ­ing.

Dear Amy: Ev­ery sum­mer I face the same (mi­nor) dilemma.

When in­vited to some­one’s house for a va­ca­tion-type overnight, what are the ba­sic guide­lines for be­ing a good guest? — Fre­quent Guest

Dear Guest: Good overnight guests bring some­thing with them and present it on their ar­rival, such as freshly baked ed­i­bles, pretty linen dish tow­els, a lightly-scented can­dle, or some­thing that rep­re­sents your own home re­gion, such as a lo­cal wine, cider, honey, or maple syrup.

In a re­cent ar­ti­cle in The Wash­ing­ton Post, my friend (and great guest) Jura Kon­cius sug­gested that good guests step up and help with chores: “Don’t sit there and ex­pect to be served like at a restau­rant. Hosts ap­pre­ci­ate your clear­ing plates from the ta­ble, emp­ty­ing the dish­washer, tak­ing out the trash and strip­ping the bed when you leave. Set up the cof­fee for the next day.”

Kon­cius also sug­gests that be­ing a good guest re­quires sim­ply be­ing on your best be­hav­ior while you are in some­one else’s home. Keep your guest room clean and make the bed each day. Don’t com­ment neg­a­tively about things you don’t like or which are un­fa­mil­iar. Be kind to­ward your host’s pets and chil­dren. Be in­ter­ested in your sur­round­ings.

A good guest ex­presses grat­i­tude along the way — thank­ing their hosts for meals and ex­cur­sions, and re­cip­ro­cat­ing by treat­ing their host to a meal.

And a good guest thanks the host promptly, warmly and ap­pro­pri­ately once she ar­rives back home.

Dear Amy: I want to thank “S” for telling the story of be­ing conned by an on­line scam­mer who was mas­querad­ing as a suitor. I also ap­pre­ci­ated your re­sponse that the emo­tions she was feel­ing were “real,” even though she had never met the man in real life. I had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence and want to add my voice of sup­port. — Been There

Dear Been There: Any­one who has tried on­line match­ing can see how this type of in­volve­ment could hap­pen.

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