Wise answers to perplexing questions
Dear Answer Lady
We own a vacation home in Cape May. We don’t use it much anymore, so we make it available to family and friends. We don’t need the money, so we don’t charge. The problem is that sometimes we incur damage to our home that goes beyond normal wear and tear. I can’t tell you how many times we have lent it to someone, only to find a major problem, like a stain in the carpet that won’t come out, or a piece of broken furniture. We hate to say anything, but costs are starting to add up. What should we do? – The Out-of-Towners
There is a difference between being ‘nice’ and ‘accommodating,’ and being a ‘doormat.’ You, gentle reader have become the ‘mat underneath the doormat.’ Come now, while it is highly commendable to open your Cape May home to loved ones who may not otherwise be able to enjoy all that our fair city has to offer, it is another matter entirely to have marauding hordes treat your home-away-from-home like a fraternity house. And a free fraternity house at that! If you do not feel comfortable charging rent for your place, then you must at least institute a security deposit policy. So repeat after the Answer Lady: ‘Sure, Cousin Nancy – the week of the 14th is just fine. Martha and I still do not charge for the house even during prime weeks, but due to some damages we’ve incurred, we are requiring a $200 security deposit. Of course, we return it if there is no damage to the house. It’s nothing personal, but unfortunately it’s become necessary. I’m sure we’ll be able to get yours back to you within two weeks.’ Hold your ground, even if you get some negative feedback – don’t forget that you are offering the deal of the century here. By the way, if you don’t think you and Martha have the stomach for this, list your house for rent with a local realtor. If you really don’t need the money, you can donate it to charity. Then you can have a professional deal with Cousin Nancy.
Dear Answer Lady
Please settle a bet. If I go to someone’s house for a BYOB party, and I B my OB, and I don’t drink all of my OB, can I take what’s left home with me? – Party Guy
Can you? Certainly. You can also grab an empty bag and stroll around filling it with leftovers. The question is: should you? Probably not, unless of course you are an uncivilized boor. If that’s the case, feel free.