By Larissa Runkle, Realtor.com
Mention that your in-laws are coming to town, and you're likely to be met with groans of sympathy. But as unpleasant as your spouse's family might be, it turns out there's another group of houseguests who can make life even more miserable: your friends.
According to a recent survey by the furniture company Joybird, 37% of respondents reported having had a "bad houseguest" to stay at some point. And a majority of those surveyed said the worst offenders were their friends—even more so than relatives.
“Friends often feel more comfortable and relaxed in the company of one another, so it didn’t come [as] too much of a surprise that they made the ‘worst’ houseguests, over family and in-laws,” explains Devon Cameron, a representative for Joybird.
Are you unwittingly the one your friends are hoping will vacate the guest room? We dug into these survey results to bring you the most egregious houseguest behaviors reported—and tips on how to avoid alienating your hosts.
1. Being messy
Cleanliness was the No. 1 gripe about bad houseguests, and it's not hard to understand why. Chances are that unless your friends live in a sprawling mansion, your hosts may need to access the space you’re occupying—even if it’s only to get into a closet briefly.
“As a real estate agent, I get to show all types of homes, and many of them have guest suites,” says Bucks County, PA, real estate agent Russell Volk. “I can always tell if the guest suite is occupied: It's usually not as organized as the rest of the house. I’ve seen toiletries thrown around in the bathroom, suitcases on the bed, clothes on the floor, etc.—and that's all during a house showing.”
Whether you’re crashing on the couch or sleeping in a private room, it’s important as a guest to keep your space neat and to show that you respect your host's home.
2. Not helping out
If you’re on vacation or visiting a new place, it’s easy to want to kick back and relax. And you should—but not at the expense of your friends. That's why pitching in was a close second in terms of host complaints about guests.
“I've noticed as friends have stayed over the past few years, it's very daunting,” says Joe Murphy, interior design specialist at The Shower Head Store. “You’re hosting by prepping meals and making sure they’re comfortable, and although many friends act like they don't want special treatment, it’s not often I have friends who are willing to help along the way.”
Whether you're staying for one night or 10, make sure to extend a helping hand. Wash dishes after a meal or even offer to cook. And try to avoid contributing to a mess that you won’t be cleaning up.
Nobody wants to wonder if their privacy is safe while a friend is visiting, or to walk in on a friend who’s combing through their drawers.
The women surveyed were the most miffed by snooping, with 32% of respondents deeming it the "worst possible way a houseguest can act." Men don't care for nosiness too much, either—25% of males surveyed said it topped their list of egregious behavior.
If you need something and aren’t sure where to find it, just ask. Anything in the house that’s closed should stay closed, unless your host says otherwise.
4. Expecting (or asking) your friends to change their lifestyle
Ever hear someone say “The world doesn’t revolve around you"? As a guest in someone’s home, you’ll want to keep that expression in mind and avoid requesting special accommodations.
Meaning, don't ask your host to stock up on gluten-free everything or kale for your morning smoothies. And certainly don't ask your hosts to put their dog or cat in a kennel; 41% of people asked were unwilling to do this, even if their guests had an allergy.
“Most people consider their furry friend to be a family member, so making sure their pet stays comfortable in what can be a stressful situation for them is really important to hosts,” Cameron explains. “In all likelihood, guests have been warned about the pet and chose to stay, in which case, they accepted the pet was going to be around."
You should be able to adapt to your host’s lifestyle—not the other way around.
5. Overstaying your welcome
One of the biggest issues people had with their guests was that they dramatically overstayed their welcome.
But how long is too long? According to the survey findings, 64% of people said that four days was the comfortable limit for having friends to stay over. Far fewer people were OK with guests who stayed longer—especially those who tried to stay more than 10 days.
So if you only planned on sleeping at your friend’s house for three nights and then getting an Airbnb, we’d advise you to stick with that plan. Even if the rental isn’t cheap, it’s a whole lot better than ending up with friends who hate you.