£66 million cost of space invaders
1st February 2011
Rise of the ‘Space Invaders’ – house guests who stay with friends and family for weeks at a time without paying rent
4.9 million Britons had a ‘free-loading’ house guest stay in their home in the last year for an average of eight weeks
More than 4.9 million homeowners have been left counting the cost of house guests who overstayed their welcome to the tune of £66 million in the last year. New research from Direct Line Home Insurance reveals these ‘space invading’ house guests, who stay for prolonged periods without paying any rent, spent an average of eight weeks living with friends and family in the last year.
During their stay, space invaders caused over £66 million of damage to their hosts’ homes, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake by breaking furniture, prized heirlooms and antiques.
Reminiscent of the movie ‘You, Me and Dupree’, which tells the tale of a best man who moves in with a pair of newlyweds, these house guests also caused significant disharmony in their adopted homes. One in five (22 per cent) people who allowed a space invader to stay at their home ended up in an argument with their partner, and one in 10 (10 per cent) people rowed with relatives about their free-loading house guest.
Sleeping in a friend or family member’s home without paying any rent is not without its risks. Nearly one in twenty (4 per cent) people got into a fight or physical altercation with a guest staying in their household. Another 15 per cent found themselves trading insults with the interloper in their property. However, it is not all rough and tumble, as over 100,000 (2 per cent) people found themselves in a romantic entanglement with their house guest.
Matt Owen, spokesperson at Direct Line commented: “For anyone who is going to have a house guest, it is probably best to lay down clear ground rules when they move in and to establish how long they intend to stay. Otherwise they could find themselves adding to the 180,000 householders who have had a free-loading house guest live in their home for over two years.”
Psychotherapist Christine Webber says: “We often agree to have our nearest and dearest to stay with us – particularly if their life has hit some sort of crisis point. The trouble is that we assume that they will only be with us a short time, and as this report shows, we can be quite wrong to assume that!"
“Often the presence of a space invader dramatically affects the dynamics of the household. Having an extra person around often impacts very seriously on a relationship, for example, as the couple feel they have no time or privacy to be alone or to talk. Space invaders also often impact badly on any children in the house. For a start they may have to give up a bedroom to the guest, and they are almost certain to feel that Mum and Dad are not quite as available to them as they usually are. And in our busy lives it can be hugely irritating to find that your house guest has finished all the milk. This can lead to a lasting rift with someone close you were simply trying to help."
“So, if you have a space invader, or are thinking of having one, try to establish some time limits and agree that the person will go by that designated time. Have some house rules and encourage the space invader to pull his or her weight with the chores. Finally, do remember that it may not be in your space invader’s best interests to stay too long or get too comfortable with you. It may be stopping him or her from moving on – literally, and emotionally.”
The majority (25 per cent) of space invaders are friends of the homeowner. However, one in ten were adults returning to stay with their parents, part of the so called ‘Boomerang’ generation, closely followed by parents staying with their children (10 per cent).
League table of space invaders
- Child over 18 (who has officially left home)
- Related to friend / colleague of housemate
- Partner’s sibling
- Partner’s friend
With soaring property and rental prices, it appears that people are looking for free board in the Capital to save money, as one in three Londoners had a house guest stay in their property for a prolonged period without paying rent in last two years. Residents of the Yorkshire and Humberside region were the least likely to open their houses, with less than one in ten residents having a friends, colleague or family member live rent free in their home in the last two years.
Percentage of householders with a space invader in their home in the last two years
|Region||% of householders that had a couch surfer|
|Yorkshire & Humber||7%|
Notes to editors
*Consumerintelligence.com interviewed a random sample of 2,671 adults aged 18+ via online omnibus between 12th and 19th November 2010 for Direct Line. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.
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