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Miss Conduct

My husband hates that our neighbors Airbnb their spare bedroom

He can’t stand that strangers can see into our yard, and it’s hurting our socializing.

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Our next-door neighbors, whom we are friendly with, occasionally Airbnb their basement bedroom. My husband is incensed that they did not speak to us first. He believes it breaches our privacy since we can see the renters in their yard (and they can see us). The neighbors want to get together socially but my husband can’t contain himself and is concerned the evening would go badly. We need to address this with them. I’m concerned they’ll stop Airbnbing to placate my husband, then resent him.

S.R. / Boston

Your husband literally does not believe he can contain his rage sufficiently to have a civil conversation with friendly neighbors? And you refer to his own behavioral choices as “the evening going badly”? And you assume the responsibility of channeling his anger acceptably? And it has been your experience that people capitulate to your husband, and then resent him for it? I don’t think your biggest problem is the next-door neighbors, S.R. I think it’s much closer than that.

The question of Airbnb’s effect on local communities is beyond my scope, but if your husband feels that strongly about the matter he ought to get involved locally to regulate it. But the main problems with Airbnbs are with absentee landlords. Your neighbors are renting a room in their own home — surely they’re at least as concerned as you about the quality of the guests.


Present your concerns from the standpoint of collaborating for the best outcome for all. “Strangers occasionally may see me in my backyard” is . . . not really a problem. But if you’re worried about noise or security, ask your neighbors how they plan to deal with it. If you need privacy or quiet (or a guest room for a visiting relative who snores?), coordinate with them.


You don’t have to like every choice your neighbors make. But it’s your choice to let it go or allow that irritation to destroy the friendship. Would you rather have well-meaning strangers sometimes, or distant, unfriendly neighbors all the time?

Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.