I live in a duplex situation where there are two free-standing houses on the lot. This will be our fourth summer here. For the past three years we had terrible neighbors who were very disrespectful. When we were given a new grill by my father-in-law, the neighbors quickly used it without permission. We went to use it one day and the rack inside was gone. Finally they moved away, we cleaned up all the junk and got new neighbors. But when the new neighbors arrived the first thing they asked about was using our grill to have a party. My husband said that perhaps if they wanted to pay for propane they could use it. Now she's bringing it up every time we see her. I don't feel comfortable sharing the grill because we've had bad experiences in the past and I think it would be better for the relationship if we didn't have communal property. Also, we have a one-and-a-half year old so it's not really a great party location for her to BBQ with her friends since our house is in the backyard. What should I do?
Dear BBQ Bashing,
I believe this is where the expression about good fences making good neighbors comes from. It's too bad that your former neighbors made you skittish about sharing because the new neighbors certainly haven't done anything to prove that they can't be trusted to borrow your BBQ responsibly. But if you've made up your mind, you just need to say so. The next time your neighbor brings it up, say, "I'm sorry, we've decided to keep the BBQ for family use only." You don't need to explain why. It's yours to do with as you please.
Although I'm a little unclear about how your houses are situated on the property (you mentioned that if she borrowed the BBQ for a party, it would be in your backyard) so I'll assume you share at least a little yard space. Keep in mind that your neighbor might decide to throw a yard party even without the use of your BBQ (and that's completely within her rights). Maybe they'll even invite you so you can all get better acquainted.