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Would this question make you uncomfortable?


Janie Grace
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There's an older couple (late 60's maybe) who comes over to the house we rent periodically to change a filter and check smoke detectors. I find the man really difficult. He's very loud and overly familiar. My dog HATES him. He seems to be always looking all around the house (makes me wonder if he is supposed to "inspect it" too) and is constantly saying how much he loves this home, how lucky we are to live here, etc. Today he asked me how much our rent is. Then he went on to ask about my husband's job ("is he still doing XYZ?"). 

 

This made me feel SO uncomfortable. I just said "the rent is very reasonable" (did not give him a number). I answered about my dh's job but still felt really strange. I told him about a new job dh is doing and he said "oh he'd be great at that." I don't think he has ever even met dh.  :confused1:

 

I don't know what to do. Am I overreacting to feel that asking how much someone pays in rent is overstepping? I have half a mind to tell the managing agent about it. I feel like this is so unprofessional. But maybe I'm just being overly private.

 

Thoughts?

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I won’t have answered and I would find that too inquisitive. It is basically fishing for information and unless the person gives me a good reason why, I would be annoyed and probably show an annoyed look.

 

I had a plumber sent from HOA that did ask us about rent in my area but he only asked once and he seems genuinely curious.

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Those questions wouldn't have bothered me at all.

 

We've answered "how much rent" questions before when we rented places both for full time (year leases) and vacations (week or month).  They seemed to be from people who were either looking to rent places themselves or looking to become landlords.  Sharing info is fine.

 

We answer the "what do you - or your spouse - do" questions all the time.  It's a super, super common question that raises no red flags at all to us.  That's really just an ice breaker.

 

We've also had folks ask us how much our new (and new to us) vehicles cost, how much we paid to have our roof done, how much our trips have cost and other similar things.  Even with these, they're asked by people who are usually interested in doing similar things themselves and want to have an idea of how much to budget for them.

 

If they have other motives, I don't give a hoot TBH.

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I wouldn't be bothered by the questions - I can see that the man bothers you in general and I have that issue with people from time to time. And walk-through inspections for renters is normal for some landlords so he may indeed be scrutinizing the house as he takes care of the other tasks just to report back to his employer, as instructed. 

 

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There's an older couple (late 60's maybe) who comes over to the house we rent periodically to change a filter and check smoke detectors. I find the man really difficult. He's very loud and overly familiar. My dog HATES him. He seems to be always looking all around the house (makes me wonder if he is supposed to "inspect it" too) and is constantly saying how much he loves this home, how lucky we are to live here, etc. Today he asked me how much our rent is. Then he went on to ask about my husband's job ("is he still doing XYZ?"). 

 

This made me feel SO uncomfortable. I just said "the rent is very reasonable" (did not give him a number). I answered about my dh's job but still felt really strange. I told him about a new job dh is doing and he said "oh he'd be great at that." I don't think he has ever even met dh.  :confused1:

 

I don't know what to do. Am I overreacting to feel that asking how much someone pays in rent is overstepping? I have half a mind to tell the managing agent about it. I feel like this is so unprofessional. But maybe I'm just being overly private.

 

Thoughts?

When a dog doesn't like someone, it sets my hinky meter off.

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The question about my husband's job wouldn't bother me.  That's normal conversation to me.  

 

Asking how much the rent is would.  I was raised  not to discuss such things (rent/mortgage payment, price of house, salary) with people who have no reason to know it.  Some things are a matter of public record so people can find it if they are intent on it, but if it's idle curiosity I'm not going to answer. I'd just answer as OP did, "reasonable." 

 

Once someone asked me how much I paid for my house and I said "too darn much."  This was just after the financial crash of 2008 and my house dropped a third of it's value.  So it was true.  :-)

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I don't like people in my house for things like that, so it's an uncomfortable situation. But no, on the surface, those questions are just fine to ask. Though you are under no obligation to answer. I probably wouldn't ask someone what they pay in rent (being neither in the market to rent a house or become a landlord) but I'd be kinda weirded out if someone acted like *I* was the weird one for asking what her husband does. That seems like pretty standard small talk.

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Isn't "so what kind of work do you do?" a standard get to know you question?

The person that OP referred to comes by periodically to check her home. I have a contractor doing repair works for the complex I live in that comes by often to check on whether the required work is completed by his workers. He asked the first time as a polite conversation kind of way which is fine but he doesn’t ask the same questions at every visit. I would be annoyed if every time the contractor pops by he ask if my kids are still homeschooling.

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One thing I have learned on these boards over the years is that there is a broad range of what people consider 'private'.  Unless I was getting a special deal that the landlord didn't want broadcast I would have no problem discussing how much I pay in rent.  I mean, what is he going to do with that info?  

 

But if he annoys you, well, just try to get him in and out quickly.

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It would bother me. We don't rent but if like a plumber came by to do some work and asked how much our house payment is I would be taken aback. And even though I never have presence of mind to respond with 'why do you ask' I don't know that it deters forward people. They just tell you it's because they want to know. 

 

If the plumber asked if dh still worked at xyz I wouldn't be bothered since it's a small town and that's a super common questions around here. It's as if they categorize you by where you work. 

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I wouldn't normally find them odd questions.  He sounds like he might be a bit awkward though, and curious. Some people are much more talkative, and I suppose if your job is going around to people's houses you need to chat with them.

 

 I find people who rent are often interested in how much other properties rent for.

 

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The person that OP referred to comes by periodically to check her home. I have a contractor doing repair works for the complex I live in that comes by often to check on whether the required work is completed by his workers. He asked the first time as a polite conversation kind of way which is fine but he doesn’t ask the same questions at every visit. I would be annoyed if every time the contractor pops by he ask if my kids are still homeschooling.

 

If this were the case, I'd chalk it up to a mental inability (low IQ or progressing illness) issue on his end and probably be glad the guy had a job because often folks won't employ people like that.

 

Of course, that person wouldn't be in charge of other workers for the same reason so I don't see your scenario happening, but it could be the case with the OP.

 

It would bother me. We don't rent but if like a plumber came by to do some work and asked how much our house payment is I would be taken aback. And even though I never have presence of mind to respond with 'why do you ask' I don't know that it deters forward people. They just tell you it's because they want to know. 

 

If the plumber asked if dh still worked at xyz I wouldn't be bothered since it's a small town and that's a super common questions around here. It's as if they categorize you by where you work. 

 

I have never in my life been asked what our house payment is - except by my own kids when we were discussing our budget.

 

That seems to be a totally different question than rent.  Discussing rental prices is rather common IME.  It's asked by renters who want to compare (esp if looking to move) and landlords who are feeling out the market.  I'm sure some are just curious too.

 

I've been asked how much we paid for houses we've bought by those who were curious (for whatever reason), but not monthly payment.  It just doesn't fall under the same "common questions" category.

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Right I agree the how much is your house payment question is far different from how much rent do you pay. Where I live real estate sales are a matter of public record. So if I want to know how much you paid for your house I can go look it up. And yet people are very sensitive about that information as well. Shrug to each his own. I’m just not that private

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I have never in my life been asked what our house payment is - except by my own kids when we were discussing our budget.

 

That seems to be a totally different question than rent.  Discussing rental prices is rather common IME.  It's asked by renters who want to compare (esp if looking to move) and landlords who are feeling out the market.  I'm sure some are just curious too.

 

I've been asked how much we paid for houses we've bought by those who were curious (for whatever reason), but not monthly payment.  It just doesn't fall under the same "common questions" category.

 

Yeah, I agree that it's a different question than how much rent is but I was taught not to ask that kind of question - not how much someone makes, or how much they paid for something.   If they want to know what the going rate for rentals or houses they can look at what's for sale or for rent.  

 

If a friend's kid goes to the same college as mine and asks how much my kid's apartment is, perhaps that makes sense.  She's wondering if they can afford for her kid to move out of a dorm.  But the guy checking the smoke alarm? That would not be cool. However, I am a major introvert so that probably sways my opinion. 

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Is he sort of managing tbe property, like, works for the manager? Like a maintenance man? If so, he's just seeing it as a property, not as your property. He prob knows how much it used to rent for and what the owner's other ones have rented for. Maybe he wants to rent it after you. Maybe he wants to know if it will be affordable.

I don't think someone who asks those questions, or conversational questions about your family is intellectually dull or slow. Your dog prob hates him because he senses you feel tense around this man,because he's loud,and because he isn't a frequent visitor. In most cases I'm a trust your gut person, and trust your dog, lol, but I think you are just more private than this person and have a different set of social rules.

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Coming from a spell in the the low income bracket, friends and I compare costs all the time--usually sort of a "who made out the best for the cheapest" type comparison.  No rancor, or anything.  Growing up middle class, it was a lot more hush hush, right up there with asking a woman how old she was.  Now I just don't give a flip.  I call it education.  ;)

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It sounds like he's casing the place.  I hope that's not true.

I'd ask the landlord whether he is bonded or not.

 

I would not want to think that the landlord is checking on our continued employment or inspecting the house in that fashion without telling me.  That's intrusive and less than candid at best.

 

I think I would deflect questions and/or be talking on the phone while I led him to the specific places he has to work and then to the door.

 

 

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I change the filter and batteries in smoke detectors myself. It seems odd to me the landlord would even hire someone to do something so simple. Seems more likely their way of "keeping an eye" on the interior of the rental.

 

We did it when we were landlords so we were sure they were working properly. Well, at least we knew twice a year they were working properly.  It was more of a 'cover your butt' kind of thing that was recommended at landlord association meetings. 

 

If we wanted to keep an eye on the interior we would have just added a section to the lease to provide for inspections. No need to be sneaky about it.  I hope the OP's landlord isn't being sneaky. There's nothing wrong with checking up on your investment- just be honest about it. 

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he's nosy. complain to the managing agent.  

some people are overly nosy/gossipy and the best way to handle them is 'non-answers'.   you did good to say the rent was "reasonable'.

 

where's the furnace?  the garage? 

can you meet him at the front door - open the garage door and meet him there so he's not walking through your house?

the basement? -

is there a basement door or easy and direct path to the furnace so you can reduce the time in your house?

legally - to do an inspection requires notice.

given the questions he's asking it sounds more nosy.  if he asks to use a bathroom - they're all in use so that won't work.  if he wants a drink - bring a glass of water to him and make sure he knows to stay where he is.  I wouldn't allow him to be unattended in my house.

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Those questions wouldn't have bothered me. I would just assume he's a quirky conversational kind of guy.

This for me too. I tend to like chatty people in general. Even if quirky I like the friendly, familiar types as sometimes I feel as though the country has become alot colder and unfriendly over the decades. I don't tend to be too suspicious though, it seems like small talk and attempt to be friendly. I think the boundaries used by not saying a specific sum seems reasonable.

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OP here. Thanks, everyone. 

 

To answer some questions, he is American and yes, he works for the managing agent. There's a different handyman. This guy and his wife ONLY change the filters and check the smoke detectors and gutters. I think the agent can't be bothered to actually come here. This is small potatoes for her, I guess... she sells houses so that's obviously where she makes her real money. She has set foot on the property ONCE in six years. But she's very responsive via text so that's good. We are never late on rent, so I can't imagine that she'd be concerned about our employment situation.

 

I agree that asking about job is a normal conversation material, but it came immediately asking about how much we pay in rent, so it felt weird, like he was thinking "how do you afford this?" or "are you still affording it?" or even "are you moving up and therefore thinking about moving out and buying a house?" (the latter might have made the most sense because he has often said that he'd like to live here). IDK, the whole line of questioning just struck me as odd. And yes, I guess I am one of those people who feel that asking the cost of something is rude. I would never ask a friend (let alone a business acquaintance) how much they pay/paid for something. That's just intrusive/awkward to me (but that may very well be my upbringing). Plus I was sitting at my laptop doing Christmas shopping and not being very engaging (on purpose, because once you get him talking he won't leave). So it felt like he was really intentionally getting my attention to ask about this.

 

I guess I just feel like if you want to make chit-chat with the lady who rents the place where you change filters there are lots of options besides "how much do you pay for this place anyway?"  :huh: My dh doesn't want me to mention it to the agent. He says the guy is just a "harmless extrovert." 

 

He put in the wrong size filter and so he just had to come back. He asked me "so, do you have to cut the grass here?" :lol:  I'm pretty sure he's wondering if he could be the next renter.

 

 

Edited by Janie Grace
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This for me too. I tend to like chatty people in general. Even if quirky I like the friendly, familiar types as sometimes I feel as though the country has become alot colder and unfriendly over the decades. I don't tend to be too suspicious though, it seems like small talk and attempt to be friendly. I think the boundaries used by not saying a specific sum seems reasonable.

 

and on the other hand - people have started asking much more personal questions of total strangers than were heretofore deemed socially acceptable.  e.g.

how much do you make?

was this pregnancy planned?  

 

some questions don't deserve an answer.

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This for me too. I tend to like chatty people in general. Even if quirky I like the friendly, familiar types as sometimes I feel as though the country has become alot colder and unfriendly over the decades. I don't tend to be too suspicious though, it seems like small talk and attempt to be friendly. I think the boundaries used by not saying a specific sum seems reasonable.

 

Yeah, actually I tend to prefer this kind of thing to the small talk a lot of people make, which tends to leave me trying to figure out how to respond.

 

Actually - now that I think about it - this guy sounds like he's making "male" small-talk as opposed to "female" small talk - this is something I find especially noticeable in working class folks.   

 

That could be part of the conversational disconnect.

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<snip>

 

He put in the wrong size filter and so he just had to come back. He asked me "so, do you have to cut the grass here?" :lol:  I'm pretty sure he's wondering if he could be the next renter.

 

I actually was thinking that with your first post.  Maybe he hopes you'll be moving on to bigger and better soon.    :D

 

 

Edited to *snip* :)

Edited by CES2005
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He put in the wrong size filter and so he just had to come back. He asked me "so, do you have to cut the grass here?" :lol: I'm pretty sure he's wondering if he could be the next renter.

The ones that ask my friends who stays in single family homes wanted to earn some pocket money by doing the lawn mowing. They were disappointed that the HOA covers the lawn service for the single family homes in my area as well as the townhomes so private lawn service was not needed.

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I don't know if the rest question would bother me.  Maybe the first person that asked, but I have had had several repair people ask me the going rate for my neighborhood.  I'm in an older split level but it's nice.  the neighborhood is nice. Location is excellent.  I've always given a range and said it depends on if the house was updated or not.   But since this is one person who comes repeatedly I would mention it to the management company.  

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