Millions are living ‘unofficially’

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According to new research from Direct Line, there are 6.8 million UK residents living unofficially in other people’s homes.

The study also found that a further 7.1 million people in the UK are currently registered under the wrong address with banks, insurers, local councils, the DVLA and other key organisations.

This widespread use of incorrect personal information raises concerns that the validity of home insurance policies may be compromised and that sensitive financial information could be misplaced.

Jenny Trueman, home insurance manager at Direct Line, said: “There are many reasons why someone may have not updated all their details. The most common cause is moving home, which can be stressful and extremely time-consuming.

“Changing address details is one of those administrative tasks that is frequently put-off or forgotten. However, the consequences of using the wrong address are far worse than a few lost letters – people risk being fined by the DVLA, losing highly sensitive financial information from their bank and invalidating their home insurance.”

Among the 7.1 million Britons who admit key organisations hold old or incorrect address details for them, doctors and dentists were the most frequently cited. And 3.2 million people admit their doctor or dentist does not have their current address and a similar number – 2.8 million – say the address on their driving licence is wrong. Around 2.4 million are also listed under the wrong address with their bank.

Of the 6.8 million “unofficial” residents across the UK, half (3.3 million) live in rented accommodation but are not listed on the tenancy agreement. The remaining 3.5 million live with someone who owns the home, for example friends and family, but have not registered themselves as a resident.

The research suggests that for the vast majority, this life as an unofficial resident is by no means temporary. When asked how long they had been living unofficially in someone else’s home, the most common response, cited by 31 per cent, was more than eight years. And 16 per cent said they had resided unofficially for four to seven years, 23 per cent for one to three years and 19 per cent for seven to 12 months. Only 11 per cent said they had been living that way for less than six months.

Direct Line asked those who admitted being registered at the wrong home address which details they were still using and the most popular response, as stated by 44 per cent, was their parents’ address. Predictably, this was slightly higher for those aged 18-34 years (at 54 per cent). However, 38 per cent of those aged 35-54 still use their parents’ address for key registrations.