Mon, 17 Jul 06
More than 7.7 million trusting Britons (27% of all working adults) are allowing relative strangers such as window cleaners, builders, and utility trades-people (electricity, gas, phone etc) to come and go unsupervised in their homes.
And one in seven have had their trust abused – for example, homes damaged, food eaten and the telephone used by non-residents, according to new research by leading home insurer MORE TH>N
Nearly four in ten (38%) have even entrusted non-residents with their own set of keys despite almost one million people (13%) revealing that they did not know them at all before allowing them access.
Nearly a quarter of all working adults (24%) have a non-resident in their home at least once a month, and 11% of these do at least once a week. Worryingly, one in seven people (14%) who have given non-residents keys have found this trust abused.
Top offences include:
- One in seven (14%) have had their homes damaged and goods stolen by non-residents
- 6% of non-residents have helped themselves to food and drink without permission
- One in twenty non-residents (5%) left home alone have used the telephone, invited people over, or skived off when they should have been working
- 220,646 people (3%) believe they have had cash or personal belongings stolen by non-residents
- 73,548 people (1%) have had personal items like clothes borrowed by the person they had contracted to work for them.
The survey reveals that most Britons take the tough approach to abuse of trust. Almost one in four (19%) gave the offender a formal warning and more than a quarter (27%) had a stern chat. A whopping one in five (22%) took the Alan Sugar approach, telling the non-resident "you’re fired."
Craig Allen, home product manager for MORE TH>N, commented: "Long working hours, lengthy commutes and active social lives all contribute to a need to enlist help in and around the home. However, it would seem that we may have become too trusting in our attitudes to strangers."
The most common non-residents to spend time in British homes routinely are window cleaners (14%), plumbers (7%), utility trades-people (7%) and house cleaners (5%). A further 2% of people enlist the help of child minders, who often spend entire working days in and around the home on a regular basis.
When asked who they would most trust if they had to hire someone ‘blind’ on moving to a new town where they didn’t know anyone, utilities people (power, gas, phone etc) came out on top at 17%, followed by child minders (9%). 60% of people said they would not fully trust anybody.
Allen continued: "In an ideal world we would be able to trust anyone we choose. However, in the unfortunate event that someone you trust does let you down by damaging your property or stealing from your home, it’s vital that you have home insurance to cover the cost."
"Six percent of the people we surveyed said they had made an insurance claim following an incident with a non-resident. We advise people to contract help through professional organisations for added peace of mind."
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