7 Things Your Neighbors Should Never, Ever Ask You To Do

published Sep 20, 2019
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Your neighbor asks to borrow that proverbial cup of sugar. Sure, no problem! Keep an eye on their house while they’re on family vacation? You. Got. Them. Covered. Cut down your favorite mature tree because a branch is crossing into their yard? Wait, that’s going too far.

We asked experts to share what else your neighbors should never, ever ask of you—from both an etiquette and a legal standpoint. Of course, you may be IRL BFFs with your neighbor, in which case, you know where to draw the line—but it’s good to know your boundaries either way. Here’s what they have to say:

1. “Can I peek inside your home?”

We empathize; it can be tempting to see how a neighbor decorates their space, especially if you have similar layouts. But, really, your neighbor shouldn’t ask to look inside or to take a tour of your home, says Bonnie Tsai, the founder and director of Beyond Etiquette, a Los Angeles-based etiquette consulting firm.

“Everyone’s home is their sacred and private space,” she says.

(Oh, and if you feel tempted to ask to see inside your neighbor’s home, resist the urge and instead indulge in one of our hundreds of house tours.)

2. “How much are you paying a month? 

In general, your neighbor shouldn’t be asking how much you pay for rent or how much your mortgage is, says Tsai.

“You should never ask, either, since it can be seen as an invasion of privacy,” she says. “Not everyone is comfortable with sharing their financial status.”

If you are really curious how much a home in your neighborhood sold for or what a unit is renting for, do a search on the county assessor’s site or get a rough estimate from a site like Zillow. If you want to confirm you’re paying too much compared to your neighbors, you can also use Rentometer for a data-based analysis.

3. “Can I use your WiFi?”

The scenario: Your neighbor moves in, but it’s going to be a few days before their Internet is set up. It’s a bummer, sure, but they shouldn’t be asking to borrow your WiFi password until they get connected, Tsai says.

“The same applies to using streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or HBO Go,” she says.

4. “What was in that package?”

It’s basic neighbor etiquette to accept your packages while you’re gone. (Though, this might be a little much to ask if you get a ton of deliveries!) But, your neighbor shouldn’t be inquiring about the contents of your packages, Tsai says. Privacy, people!

5. “Can you not grill or smoke meat?”

Did you hear about the vegan in Perth, Australia who is suing her neighbors for barbecuing in their back yard? We’ll see how that shakes out. But in the opinion of Alessandro Mannino, a neighbor safety and relations expert with NeighborWho.com, a public records site, what you do in your space—inside or outside—should be none of their business.

“Grilling is a very common backyard activity,” he says. “As long as you practice good safety, your neighbors can’t keep you from barbecuing on your property.”

6. “Can you wait until 10 a.m. to mow your lawn?” 

“Most of us prefer to get mowing done earlier in the day,” Mannino says. That way, you’re avoiding sunburns, heat exhaustion and freeing up the rest of your day. Yes, it may be annoying for your neighbor to hear that lawn mower revving up at 8 a.m., but it’s your prerogative to mow your lawn when you want—so long as it’s within noise ordinance parameters, he says.

7. “Can you supervise workers while I run out?” 

Say your neighbor is having a remodel done and needs you to let workers in the house or temporarily oversee them. This is too risky of a request, says Miguel A. Suro, a Miami-based attorney and lifestyle writer who runs the Rich Miser blog.

“If anyone is injured, there are insurance issues that it would not be fair for a guest to have to handle,” he says. “For example, does the accident have to be reported to workmen’s compensation insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or both?”

Now that you’ve got neighbor etiquette 101 down, here’s 5 things your landlord should never ask you to do.

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