I am in USA (2nd generation Indian American, if that is relevant) and have witnessed situations where person A let person B (A's wife's distant relative) stay in their apartment, but they overstayed their welcome.

In a particular situation (20 years ago), person A gave person B a newspaper "roommate" section to start looking for new place to live (I'm sure there are more details, but this is all I know).

The laws in USA (or at least my state) are that, if person stays in your house for 30 days or more, that person is considered a resident (i.e. staying for free, not helping with household work, etc), and cannot be evicted.

My question, how do I politely refuse anyone to stay at my home.

I really want to help people in need, but human nature is thus, and I have a history of porous personal borders. (this site on Stack Exchange is a real God-send!)

For example, should I respond with, "I am currently not looking for boarders" while maintaining current, reasonably favorable relationship.

This may apply to acquaintances, but how to apply this to relatives or better yet, Family Doctor who has practice in our building and knows everyone's weakness (because that is how US Doctors are trained).

Hopefully the situation will never arise, but I wish to learn beforehand.

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    Just to be clear, we assume that your doctor asked you if he could stay at your place for a while? There are never good general approaches to those things, could you give more details about the circumstances you imagine? – Raditz_35 Apr 6 '18 at 16:02
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because hypothetical questions aren't a good fit for this site. You can't tell us what you've tried already, or who asked (you mention a wide range of people). If the situation actually comes up, you can provide us with the details needed (and with what you tried to enforce your boundary) and we can work from there. – Tinkeringbell Apr 6 '18 at 16:04
  • @Raditz_35 Oh no, the Family Doctor never asked. I was using as an example based on things I've observed in my life. Because Family Doctor is extension of one's distance family (almost). – Artie Ladie Apr 6 '18 at 16:05
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    Is this something you expect to happen often? You can just say no.. that's perfectly tactful. – user428517 Apr 6 '18 at 16:29
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    @sgroves Yes, it is something I expect. – Artie Ladie Apr 6 '18 at 16:31

In general, if you do decide to allow someone to stay with you, there has to be an exit clause, in other words, there have to be definite limits to the length of stay. If you think that it would be difficult to enforce the limits when they arrive, either because they won't leave, or you are weakly hearted (which is fine, just understand your own limitations), then refuse outrightly.

Whatever agreement you reach, put it in writing, and have them sign it (I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice).

It should be their responsibility to prepare to leave. I start reminding them before the end of their stay and ask what they are doing about it.

However, your question is about how to refuse. This is hard for me too. I think if this occurs again, I will say "I am not prepared to take on so much responsibility, and I like my current living conditions just the way they are". I have a family, so I would also add "I cannot ask my family to be impacted by another person living with us". These are simple answers, and the person will likely say that they will be easy to live with (which is rarely the case). You have to be firm.


"We'd love to have you, but we just can't right now!" is polite if said somewhat regretfully. If they probe for more details, you are not required to explain. Keep an explanation that would totally embarrass them if they absolutely insist ("my wife and I are trying to conceive, and we need a no-distraction environment" or something).

It's always easiest to keep someone out completely--so this addresses the hypotheticalness of the question, just don't let it become a problem in the first place--instead of getting rid of them once they're in. It's proverbial: "the camel's nose in the tent" and all that.

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