• Resolving Problems

Key-Keeper Friends Who Watch Over Your Home

Published: August 25, 2016 | Last Updated: October 29, 2021 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
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When you entrust a key-keeper friend or relative with your key to watch over your home, it comes with some implicit obligations.


Hi Dr. Levine,

Whenever we leave town for a few days, we ask my husband’s cousin “Beth”—who is also a neighbor and friend—to keep an eye on our home. Beth has a key to our house and brings in packages, waters plants, etc. We return the favor, of course, when Beth leaves town.

The problem? I learned through another neighbor-friend that Beth gives tours of our home while we are away. We live in an interesting home and have a nice garden so Beth invites her friends to see the place. She has never asked my husband or me ahead of time if this is okay with us.

In fact, I only recently learned about the “house tours” when one of Beth’s friends told me in passing that she had been in our house while we were gone last fall — and that she admired the wallpaper in our master bedroom. Apparently, Beth had brought SEVERAL friends over to see the place while we were gone and then invited them for drinks on our patio. I felt that my boundaries had been violated because I do not know these friends of Beth’s. I’m especially concerned about strangers touring my bedroom while I am away!

Beth is rather bold and is the sort of person who thinks that relatives should have special privileges so I am not sure how to confront her about this. I am tempted to ask someone else to watch our place next time we are away but I know Beth would find out. Since she’s a neighbor, she knows all of our comings and goings.

I would like my husband to mention something to Beth but I wonder if I am being overly sensitive. When you ask someone to watch your home while you are on vacation, is it acceptable for the house sitter to bring friends over?

Thanks for your advice, as always, Irene. I wonder if anyone else has had a problem like this.

Signed, Arlene


Hi Arlene,

I would feel the same way as you do.

You trusted Beth with your key to watch over your home but you didn’t give her permission to invite other guests. It sounds like she may have been excited about showing off your oozing-with-charm house but a stay for drinks and tour of your bedroom seem out of line. She should have asked you before presuming it would be okay.

Since Beth is your friend, neighbor and relative, addressing this situation is somewhat tricky. While you don’t want to alienate her, you have no choice but to approach her about this directly.

Let Beth know one of your friends mentioned she had visited the house during your absence. Explain that while you trust Beth, you don’t want anyone else at your home while you are gone.

I suspect Beth will be mortified over her lapse in judgment and will promise to never do it again. Depending on what she says, you’ll need to re-evaluate whether or not you are comfortable maintaining her in this key-keeper role to watch over your home.

Best, Irene

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Category: Disappointing friends

Comments (6)

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  1. lottie says:

    Sorry but she is completely out of order. I would never trust her again. She is showing off at your expense.It makes me full of rage it has happened to us.She is in a responsible position and lets people know you are away. People talk plus she doesn’t know who the “viewers” know.

    You could have all kinds of undesirables snooping about.
    Do not allow her to have the responsibility again. Nip it in the bud now.

    What would happen if you were robbed,doesn’t bare thinking about. Best wishes Lottie

    PS. This I know is a late reply. I am having difficulty logging in which Irene knows about.

  2. Jill says:

    Everybody has different rules for housesitters. Relatives and friends may assume most rules dont apply to them. Usually i ask if i can have anyone over or use the phone. Nobody ever said no but one never knows before hand. Once a person took herself on a tour of the house I was looking after. I was horrified. But she did have social issues and probably never thought anyone would not appreciate her deep curiosity. I also never invited her over anywhere I was at again.

  3. Mary says:

    Hubby’s cousin. Hubby needs to be present and agree to all his wife says.

    Bold people are not usually remorseful.

    I would give her new rules. No need to advise who leaked the info. Just new rules, one being no company. Give her 1 chance. If there’s another tour even after she’s been told no company, then she’s lost the privilege and gift of your trust.

    Do you have security cameras? Might be worth getting at least one. Who knows what you might learn.

  4. GraceW says:

    I stopped having friends look after my pets and house when one lost our house key and didn’t tell us until the last day of our trip when we were actually on the road back home. It was a short trip but had been just long enough to make me want someone to check on our cats. They were fine even though she didn’t check on them, but it really turned me off the idea of having friends do favors.

    If “Beth is rather bold and is the sort of person who thinks that relatives should have special privileges,” then I doubt she’ll feel mortified over her lapse in judgment. She’ll feel mortified that she got caught. Maybe she’ll start to tell people not to say anything to you when she brings them into your house. But why would she stop? Why would someone who believes she has special privileges stop exercising those privileges merely because someone else asked her to? Is she normally that respectful?

    If your trips are short, water the plants before you go and put your mail on hold for a few days. If they’re longer and absolutely require someone to check on the house, hire a licensed and bonded housesitter. Let her find out, let her be offended, if she asks, tell her that you discovered that she was bringing other people into your house while you were away so you decided to hire professionals.

  5. DCFem says:

    This is the key passage and why the husband MUST be part of ths conversation: “Beth is rather bold and is the sort of person who thinks that relatives should have special privileges.” He’s her relative so he MUST be present when you tell her TOGETHER that she’s crossed a line and going forward the only person who should be in your home when you’re away is her. If you hear from one more random person that they were in your home while you were away, change your locks.

  6. Amy F says:

    I think you should speak to your friend with your husband to set boundaries with her in a non confrontational manner. You say you consider her a friend, communicate your expectations. Don’t expect him to do the “dirty work” because he happens to also be her cousin.

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