Nine million Brits have had to continue living with an ex-partner following a breakup, according to new research from Direct Line Home Insurance.
On average, ex-partners must stay living together for four months before they can afford to, or are contractually able to, move to a new home. However, one in 10 (one million) have continued living with their ex for over 10 months. One in 25 people who have broken up with their partner (4%, or 340,000 people) are still living with their ex, prohibited from being able to afford to move out as mortgage and rental payments are often based on two incomes.
Those in their late 30s and 40s are most likely to be trapped living with their ex, with four million people being forced to live with an ex-partner after a relationship had ended, compared to 2.6 million (16%) 18-34-year olds.
The leading cause for the delay in moving out after a relationship is the time it takes to organise somewhere else to live, cited by 28% of individuals who have lived with their ex. Finance is another key problem for 16% ex-couples, who said it was because neither partner could afford to buy the other out or because they couldn’t afford to live on their own (16%). 13% stayed living together because they had children and thought it would be best for them to live within the family home.
However, even remaining living together can be costly especially when breakups are not amicable. 42% of those who lived with an ex, some 3.7 million people, said an item was broken in the time following the breakup. In total, more than 20 million household items in the UK have been damaged in the wake of a breakup.
Portable technology items such as iPads and laptops have taken the brunt of the damage, with more than 2.5 million items affected, followed by furniture (2.4 million items) and tableware such as plates, cups and bowls (2.4 million items). The item which receives the greatest amount of deliberate damage is furniture, which 20% of those who lived with an ex admitting to purposefully damaging.
Table: Number of items damaged while people remain living with an ex following a breakup
|Item||Percentage of people who said this item had been damaged while living with an ex||Equivalent number of items damaged||Average cost of damage per incident|
|Portable technology e.g. iPad, laptop||29%||2.5 million||£234|
|Games console||26%||2.3 million||£236|
|Large electrical item (TV, lights, music system etc.)||25%||2.2 million||£238|
|Kitchen appliances||24%||2.1 million||£240|
|Accessories (handbag, wallet etc.)||21%||1.9 million||£219|
|Overall UK figure||20.7 million||£4.5 billion|
Source: Direct Line Home Insurance 2019
These so-called accidents don’t come cheap, costing exes £218 on average to repair or replace the item, a total bill of £4.5 billion across the UK. The most expensive items to repair or replace are portable technology items and kitchen appliances, each costing £240 per item.
52% of adults who had an item damaged when living with an ex after breaking up suspected that their ex-partner stopped treating their property as carefully as they had done before. Living in this acrimonious environment seems to bring out the worst in people, as many believe their partner stole an item of theirs after the relationship ended. Over two million people (57%) believe their partner stole an item of theirs when they moved out, while 42% admitted that they stole something of their exes.
Dan Simson, head of home insurance at Direct Line, said: “For many, it would be extremely difficult to carry on living with an ex after breaking up. Unfortunately, while people may have good intentions about keeping things amicable at home, it seems it is often not realistic and can result in an uncomfortable living environment.
“Both parties should try and continue treating the property with care and respect as if they also own the property, mistreating it could result in a lower value and if renting it, could result in a deposit not being returned. It’s worth checking what you are covered for in your contents insurance policy too, in case items are damaged or broken unintentionally.”