Dear Barb—The Mow You Know

Dear Barb:

I have lived in the same neighborhood for 30 years. We raised our family here and never had any problems until recently when a family moved in next door. They are a family of both parents, plus three teenage boys. When they moved in my wife brought a casserole to them. I know that is old school, but we are old-school people. They moved into this home from an apartment, so had no landscaping tools, such as lawnmowers, trimmers, etc. They often asked to borrow our tools and initially, I didn’t have a problem with that. But now we are six months later and it doesn’t seem like they are buying any equipment of their own. In fact, when I cut my lawn, most of the time I have to go to their house to get my lawnmower. I am not the type of neighbor who wants any kind of conflict, so I have been allowing this to slide in the hopes that they will get their own stuff. My wife is becoming frustrated with me and says if I don’t talk to the neighbors, she will. My wife can get pretty aggressive, and I would rather she not talk to them. I don’t know how to approach them without causing problems between us. After all, we live next door to each other, and if we can’t get along it could lead to a very uncomfortable situation. How would you advise me to deal with this issue?

Thanks, Gord.

Hi Gord:

Interesting topic. To begin, I don’t think many people realize if a person borrows an item and does not return it they could be charged with theft and end up with a criminal record.  However, that is not a situation most neighbors want to resort to. The best way to avoid getting yourself into this predicament is to say “NO” when asked to borrow tools or other items. You can explain, but you really don’t have to. Simply say that you are becoming frustrated with not having your lawnmower or other items available when you need them, therefore you have decided to stop allowing people to borrow your equipment. Another option would be to not lend him any more equipment until he returns what he already has. For example, if you want your lawnmower and he has your edger, tell him when he returns the edger you will lend him the lawnmower. This way it will not be so easy for him to do his landscaping and hopefully, it will cause him to go out and purchase his own items. Also, when you see these items on sale bring the flyer over to him, possibly promoting him to buy his own.  You must take a stand. These are your items that you bought and paid for, and he is adding to their wear and tear.  I would suggest you get this done before your wife goes over there, as it sounds like she will be a bit more forceful than you.

Thanks for writing and hopefully this situation gets resolved quickly.

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