How long will I be expected to host somebody?
This depends on your availability. We will match people to what you are able to offer. There are people who need housing on a very long-term/permanent basis. If you are able to house somebody in that position, that would be amazing. Other people might need housing for the months it takes for the bureaucrats to sort out an application. However, if you are only able to do a few days every now and then, we need you too. People who are hosting on a long-term basis sometimes need a holiday. We also want to make sure that we have lots of spare capacity in the system. The long and the short of it is that if you can host somebody, we need you.
What happens at the end of somebody’s stay?
They will go into their own or somebody else’s house. Don’t be worried that you are going to have to make somebody homeless. We will make sure that there is always spare capacity in the system and another house for them to move into.
Will I be safe?
We think so. Nothing in life is risk-free, but we think that hosting is a low-risk activity. We do also have some strategies in place to help you feel comfortable. Our key operating principle is that everybody (hosts and those needing hosting) can choose their own level of risk. Our model here is couchsurfing.org. The idea is that you can choose how much information you need to let somebody into your house (or to go into a stranger’s house). We will tailor what information we provide according to what you want to know. If you want, we can also find people to give testimonials as to the character of anyone who is going to stay in your house. We will arrange a meeting in advance so that no one goes in blind, and so that you can discuss what you expect from each other. We will be on hand to help make sure that everything is going smoothly and mediate if necessary. Either party has the right to terminate the relationship at any time.
I only have a sofa/small bedroom/granny flat/spare palace to offer. Is that useful?
Any offer is useful. If you have a spare palace (we’re looking at you, Mrs Windsor), that is great. If you only have a sofa bed, it could still be helpful. It is usually much easier to host somebody if you have a spare room, and much easier to stay with somebody if you can have little bit of privacy. On the other hand, some people thrive on communal relationships. Whatever you have to offer, go for it. The worst that happens is that nobody will take it up.
I live in a multiple occupancy house/I have a family. Can I still host?
This is not a problem just as long as everybody in the household is happy with the situation. In this sort of situation we will want to meet everybody to make sure that there is just the one hymn sheet. Do not let that discourage you. It is true that, in many cases, the more, the merrier.
Will I need to provide food?
Again this one is up to you. If you want to provide food, that is brilliant. If you do not want or are unable to do that, that is okay. You have to think about what you can provide and how you want your household to work. Things will also depend on the person staying. They may be very uncomfortable eating with you. On the other hand they might love sharing food. This is something you will have to negotiate together.
I am a vegetarian/keep kosher. Will I have to have meat/pork in my house
Absolutely not. It is your house. Of course, you might be vegetarian and not mind about people cooking and preparing meat. As always, the answer is that we will only make a match where both parties are happy.
Will the person I’m hosting have a key? Will they be in the house when I’m not there?
Again this will be up to you. Realistically, when it comes to medium or long term placements most of the people who need housing are going to want to be able to come and go as they please. That is not to say that you should force yourself to be comfortable with something you consider unsafe. Let us know your red lines and we will fit the placement to your needs.
Can I be picky about gender?
Absolutely (although remember not everybody has a straightforward gender presentation). It is your house. If you feel more comfortable with people of a certain gender, then we will respect that.
Can I be picky about other characteristics?
While we do not expect anybody to impose their views on anybody else, it is your house. You should be comfortable in your home at all times. If there are things you know you cannot live with, let us know and we will make sure that you do not have to live with them.
Will I receive rent?
Unfortunately not. The people who need housing are forbidden from working and not entitled to housing benefit. We will have £1000 a month to rent accommodation. If you would like to support someone on the wrong side of the border regime, but are not able to offer accommodation without compensation, do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org – perhaps you will fit the thousand for £1000 scheme.
Will the person I’m hosting do work in lieu of rent?
This is a tricky one. The scheme is based on all relations being mutual. Obviously if you have a house and someone staying has no other access to housing, then they are pretty vulnerable. Contractual relations can sometimes be a way of fostering mutuality, but, of course, if there is no money involved, then they are more often than not exploitative. Please don’t demand work in return for a bed.
Will the person I’m helping not help me out around the house, then?
There is a difference between people mucking in together and a contractual relation. Before you host someone, we will help you think about what you expect from a housemate and we’ll help you make that clear to anyone who might want to stay in your house. We will do the same with those looking for a place to stay. Remember the relation is mutual. There will be things that the people who stay in your house expect from you. We will help mediate that conversation.