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Theft warning for home-share hosts

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Six in 10 home-stay hosts have had problems with paying guests.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of home-stay hosts have had items stolen from their properties by guests, while more than half (53 per cent) have had their homes or possessions damaged, according to Aviva.

A study by the insurer, which interviewed 1,000 people who let out their homes and 1,000 people who had stayed in home-shares, unearthed irritations on both sides.

Of those who had let out properties as home-stays, three out of five (60 per cent) had experienced some sort of unpleasant incident involving guests. As well as damage and theft, 38 per cent had experienced a domestic disturbance involving neighbours or the police.

In line with this, two thirds (66 per cent) of guests admitted to having broken or damaged something when staying at a home-share. Most visitors said they had either owned up and offered to pay (35 per cent) or replaced the offending item (28 per cent).

But one in eight (13 per cent) said they had blamed the problem on someone else and one in 10 (9 per cent) hid the damage.

Guests also had various grumbles about their home-stay experiences. Almost half (47 per cent) of people who had stayed at home shares or holiday lets had been disappointed with the properties.

Criticisms include cockroaches in homes, rude owners and a lack of locks on toilet doors. But the most common complaints were a bad odour (42 per cent), rooms smaller than expected (38 per cent), and a dirty property (35 per cent).

Adam Beckett, product director for Aviva UK General Insurance said: “Home-stays provide a great opportunity for people to earn extra income by allowing others to stay at their properties. However, guests can be unpredictable and our research shows around half of hosts have had something damaged or stolen when they’ve let out their homes.

“Anyone who has a standard home contents and buildings insurance policy and is thinking about letting out their home – even if it’s just for occasional or temporary use – should tell their insurer in advance. This helps to ensure people have the level of cover that’s right for them.

“For peace of mind, we’d also encourage homeowners to remove or lock away any valuables or easily-damaged items while guests are in their homes. Accidents happen, but this can help to minimise holiday headaches.”