Q: My partner just bought her first home with money from a surprise inheritance. To our delight, the seller left a nice set of garden furniture. But when we met our new neighbor, instead of imagining, she told us that the seller had promised her the furniture. This was the first time we had heard of the agreement. We don't want to burn bridges before we even unpack, but the patio furniture is technically ours and we couldn't replace it for some time due to our budget. Are we selfish if we keep it?
ON: Some people greet new neighbors with a basket of biscuits or a potted plant. Your greeted you with the request to take your things with you. The person who burns the bridge here is your neighbor, not you.
Even if her billing of the furniture contract is correct, the seller should have given it to her before the sale was closed, assuming the set was not included in the sales contract. Regardless of what agreement the seller has made with her neighbor, has nothing to do with you. You own the house and all of its contents and are under no obligation to give any of it away.
"It says something about this neighbor who came by with a dolly and a moving truck, not a cake," said Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert.
There is no shame in buying a home with money from an unexpected inheritance, and neither you nor your partner owe your gratitude to your neighbor for receiving a gift. You mentioned that now you don't have the resources to replace the furniture. So you would be making a fiscally irresponsible decision if you had to give away and replace a kit that you already owned.
Now is the time to set clear boundaries. The next time you see your neighbor, politely tell her that it is unfortunate that there has been confusion about the furniture but that you have not made a prior agreement and therefore cannot keep it. “I wouldn't make excuses. I wouldn't apologize, ”said Ms. Gottsman. "I would set the tone now because what you set will set the tone for the rest of the relationship."
Then go out and have a glass of lemonade on your new furniture. Celebrate this chapter in your life without guilt or remorse.
Sign up here to receive weekly email updates on residential real estate news. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.