How to Tell Someone They Can’t Stay at Your House

Is there a way to tell someone that you’re not comfortable with the idea of having them stay at your home, but in a polite way?

Here are the ways to tell someone they can’t stay at your house:

  1. “I feel pretty overwhelmed by the idea of a company right now, so this year won’t work, but there’s an Airbnb a few blocks away.”
  2. “I don’t have the mental or emotional bandwidth for the company right now, so I have to say no, but I’d love to visit for a few hours when you’re here.”
  3. “Sorry, my house isn’t an option.”
  4. “My friend runs an Airbnb. Why don’t I see if we can get you a discounted rental?”

More advice on what approach to take, according to experts:

Leslyn Kantner, LPC, NCC

Leslyn Kantner

Licensed Professional Counselor

Polite and compassionate honesty is the best solution

Not every friend or family member makes a good house guest and finding yourself in a position to reject their overnight company can be awkward. Polite and compassionate honesty is generally the best solution.

Take a minute and consider what thoughts or feelings arise when you consider their visit. Do you feel disrespected, overwhelmed, or anxious? Taking responsibility for and owning your position will always be the high road.

Use the three-part response

  • Using “I” statements with a feeling or emotion word is the first step: “I feel (emotion)”
  • Followed by the ‘what’: “with the idea of a company”
  • Followed by a need or alternative: “I’m sorry, not this year.” or “There’s an AirBNB closeby”.

So it goes like this: “I feel pretty overwhelmed by the idea of a company right now so this year won’t work, but there’s an AirBNB a few blocks away.”

Another option: “I don’t have the mental or emotional bandwidth for the company right now, so I have to say no, but I’d love to visit for a few hours when you’re here.”

Go with the obvious and simple response

Of course, there’s always the obvious and more simple. “Sorry, my house isn’t an option.” At the end of the day, you don’t owe anyone a reason why. The word “no” means “no” regardless of the situation!

Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil

CEO and Lead Therapist, Naya Clinics

Explain your notion of preferring to have your own peace at home

Turning away a friend who needs a place to crash is not an evil thing — it’s actually a self-preserving practice for your own peace and privacy which are all crucial in today’s modern tech innovation-centric age.

It’s critical for your own well-being to allot a space that’s only yours.

Our houses are the physical form of our headspaces, if someone else is in your house, you’ll feel as if something’s in your way of properly landing steps and decisions towards your own growth.

Telling someone your house isn’t open for freeloaders is as easy as clearly stating you don’t have the room to accommodate another person while taking a solid stance (not to frighten and glare down the other person, but to appear from and solid with your sentiment).

You must realize that saying no is not a bad thing.

You can further explain your notion of preferring to have your own peace at home without the company of others and if the other person is understanding enough, they’ll accept it wholeheartedly.

You can close the conversation by offering your time and other resources in helping your friend find another place, instead.

Dwight Zahringer

Dwight Zahringer

President, Pure Cabo, LLC

Create an alternative

“You can stay at a hotel” doesn’t sound quite as good as “My friend runs an AirBNB, why don’t I see if we can get you a discounted rental?” The person who can’t stay at your house needs to stay somewhere, and if they have help finding a place then they’ll be more likely to leave with no hurt feelings.

Be honest but stay safe

There are many possible reasons you wouldn’t want someone to stay in your house. Tactfully consider your explanation to them—do you need the space for another vital reason?

Are there events in the near-future that make staying there impossible? You may want to keep some details private, and that’s perfectly fine: It’s your house, after all.

Don’t deflect blame

Statements like “Well, my spouse doesn’t want people here” only serve to cause hurt feelings in both directions, and won’t even work to convince the person they can’t stay. They may end up thinking it’s an ‘us vs. them’ situation and redouble their efforts to get you on their side.

This is your decision and it needs to come clearly from you. It may take a bit of time to sink in, but stay firm and protect your right to control who stays in your home.

Carly Sachs

Carly Sachs

Founder, The Mamma’s List

Telling someone they can’t stay at your house is definitely tricky, especially so when they’re a close friend or relative. It’s much easier to brush off an invitation from an acquaintance who invites herself over to visit sometime.

When dealing with someone you’re close to, the best way to tell them they can’t stay at your house is to be upfront, honest, and firm.

Tell them why you’re not currently having houseguests

If things are crazy at work, or you’ve just had a baby or other major life change, simply state that you and your family need your space right now, but that you’d love to have them another time. It’s totally reasonable to set boundaries, even with close friends and family, when you need your space.

What you don’t want to do is ignore the request, allowing the person to think they are staying with you, and then springing a “no” on them at the last minute. In that scenario, you might end up in an argument that results in them coming anyway. This will make for a very poor visit because you’ll be resentful that they didn’t respect your wishes.

If you don’t want visitors, remain firm.

Alternatively, it’s much easier to tell infrequent visitors or acquaintances that they can’t come to your house. You can casually mention that it’s not a good time or that you should get together soon, but this weekend (or date, time they mentioned) you already have plans.

When you’re not as close to the person making the request, they’re much less likely to push you on your answer.

Either way, ensure there is clear communication on both sides. The last thing you want is a misunderstanding that results in someone showing up uninvited, or with tension for the future.

Luke Smith, MBA

Luke Smith

Founder, We Buy Property In Kentucky

When informing someone that they cannot stay at your house, it’s important to carefully craft your message to ensure the other party doesn’t take offense. It’s certainly a delicate subject, but a reasonable conversation to engage in.

Suggest other options of places to stay

In some instances, you may not have the space to let someone stay at your residence. On the other hand, if you have ample space, but you don’t feel comfortable letting the other party stay at your house, a great way to alleviate the burden is to suggest other options of places to stay.

This informs the other party of possible solutions to their problem and suggests that your home is not an option.

If you’re dealing with someone exceptionally dense and you don’t want them to stay at your residence, the pandemic has given us all a great excuse. Whether you have elderly family members coming to visit or young ones, you can use either as a reason to not let outsiders (friends or extended family) stay at your home.

Being open and honest upfront is key

It’s best to inform the misled party that you are unable to provide them lodging early rather than waiting until the end of the day. Provide the other party ample time to figure out other accommodations and offer to help out if there is a need to.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prepare for this conversation?

It can be helpful to prepare for this conversation ahead of time. Here are some things you can do:

Think about your reasons: Before the conversation, take some time to think about why you can’t accommodate the person. This will help you explain your reasons clearly.

Practice what you will say: Rehearse what you’re going to say so you can go into the conversation confidently. This can also help you stay calm and focused during the conversation.

Anticipate the person’s reaction: Think about how the person might react to your decision and prepare some responses. This will help you stay in control of the conversation and maintain your boundaries.

Plan a follow-up: If you offer alternative solutions, contact the person to ensure they have found accommodation. This will show that you care about their well-being and that you remain willing to help in other ways.

Should I give a reason why the person cannot stay at my house?

While it’s not necessary to give a reason why someone can’t stay with you, it can help the other person gain clarity and understanding. If you feel comfortable sharing your reasons, you can explain why you can’t accommodate them. 

However, if you don’t feel comfortable sharing your reasons or you feel it could lead to further conflict, it’s okay to just say that you can’t accommodate the person at this time.

Is it okay to say no without offering an alternative solution?

While offering alternative solutions is always a good idea, it’s also okay to say no without offering an alternative. Sometimes there may not be alternative solutions, or you may feel uncomfortable offering alternatives. 

In these situations, it’s important that you communicate clearly and respectfully. Let the person know that you can’t accommodate them right now, and thank them for considering your home as an option.

What if I change my mind after agreeing to let someone stay in my home?

If you have agreed to let someone stay with you and then change your mind, it’s important that you let the person know as soon as possible. You can do this:

Be honest: Let them know you changed your mind and the reasons why.

Offer alternatives: If possible, make suggestions for alternative arrangements.

Apologize: Let them know you’re sorry for the inconvenience caused.

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