About a year ago, our family moved into a house which had been owned by people who desperately didn't want to move. They made the closing difficult for us and left the house in very bad condition. We learned from our new neighbors that the former owners were almost bankrupt and had fallen on very hard times but were unwilling to face their problems until it was too late. Needless to say, this left us feeling very uncomfortable and we still feel the ghosts of the family who used to live in our house. We have now learned that these people have been unable to get back on their feet and are moving back to town. Debbie, this gives me the creeps and I'm afraid of running into them in the market or, worse yet, having them appear on our doorstep to take a look around their old house. What do you think I should do about this uncomfortable situation? Signed, Innocent Home Buyers.
Dear Innocent Home Buyers,
It is very unfortunate that you stumbled into a difficult situation when you purchased you house and that the problems of the previous owners have caused you to feel so uneasy. Hopefully you will feel more comfortable in your new home as time goes by.
In the meantime you might want to try to prepare yourself for what could be an uncomfortable, albeit coincidental, meeting between you and the people who sold you their house. Although you understandably resent the situation they created, if your can try to put yourself in their position you might have an easier time dealing with them.
Bankruptcy can be a terrifying proposition and they may have been reacting to the sale of their home the only way they could at the time. Certainly they should have been more gracious and less difficult but they simply might not have had those resources. On the other hand, they could be difficult people to deal with given any situation and your attempt to give them the benefit of the doubt might not be appreciated.
In either case, your maturity and ability not to let your emotions get the better of you will be helpful if you ever come upon them. If you see them at the market, you might want to try to be as pleasant as possible without getting into any details about the house or the damage they left behind. Keep the conversation short but sweet and be on your way. If they actually come to your door, it would probably be best not to let them in. However if that is too awkward and they seem genuine you could consider letting them have a look around in order to satisfy their curiosity. Remember that when dealing with them, a level head and some empathy might go a very long way.
Hopefully emotions on both sides will dissipate over time, you won't run into each other at all and you will have the opportunity to get on with your lives and stop being haunted by problems in the past.