Role of hosts
Being a host in your own home can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience, but it can also be challenging and distressing. As a result, hosting should only be entered into after proper consideration with everyone in the household.
This section outlines the role and expectations of hosting a guest, to help you understand and prepare for what to expect as a prospective host.
Case worker from the British Red Cross (2022)
“The young woman I supported was aged 18. In some respects, it was a very positive experience. She viewed her hosts as being like parents to her, and they provided a huge amount of support above and beyond just offering their home and meals.
“Whilst this was great for this young woman, I think this is something that most hosts would likely not be able to offer, or be emotionally prepared for. Many new arrivals will be in a similar position, of having lost family or being at least separated from partners/parents.
“I think hosts would need to be prepared for how being in a family environment may cause distress. In my clients’ case it was the opposite, she became very attached in part due to the loss she'd experienced."
Requirements and expectations – before arrival
In addition to disclosure checks, local authority system checks and property visits we ask all hosts to consider the below points:
- you are required to provide suitable accommodation for a minimum of 6 months, but can offer up to 12 months on this scheme
- it is asked that you give 2 months’ notice when wanting to end the agreement beyond the 6 month mark, to allow time for alternative measures to be put into place
Homeowners with a mortgage
Homeowners with a mortgage who wish to offer accommodation to people displaced from Ukraine should contact their mortgage lender for further information. Some lenders have made guidance available on their websites.
Some mortgage lenders may ask for an agreement between the guest and host to be signed, however it is not mandatory as part of the sponsorship scheme and requirements will vary between mortgage providers. You should be aware, however, that having such an agreement in place ensures you and your guests are clear on the terms of their stay.
If you have purchased your property through a Scottish Government shared equity scheme you should check whether your contractual documents allow you to provide accommodation to a third party and follow the terms and conditions of that contract.
If you are a tenant of rented accommodation, you should check your tenancy agreement and get permission of your landlord before agreeing to participate in the scheme.
If accommodating guests in your home, you should continue to pay Council Tax as normal. Hosting guests will have no impact on the level of Council Tax you are liable for or the Council Tax reductions/discounts you are eligible for, including for second homes. Council Tax will not be liable on a property, such as a second home, whilst guests are sole occupants as such properties have been given exempt status.
More information can be found in the Council Tax section of the Super Sponsor guidance for local authorities.
Insurers have agreed that homeowners offering shared accommodation in their own home to people displaced from Ukraine do not need to contact their home insurance provider as they are considered non-paying guests. This applies for the first 12 months and if after this period they continue to live with you, you should contact your insurer to inform them.
You should be aware of any existing terms that might apply to non-paying guests within your insurance policy. You may wish to contact your insurer to discuss further.
Where homeowners wish to house refugees in their second homes, guest homes or rental properties, they should discuss this with their insurance provider in the first instance. Please see information from the Association of British Insurers at Ukraine Crisis ABI.
Planning and licensing
Where relevant, you should ensure that taking part in the scheme will not put you in breach of any planning restrictions, license conditions, lease or rental agreements or regulatory requirements in respect of the properties or pitches. Where the property is for example on a residential mobile home site or holiday caravan site, this may involve a discussion with the site owner or the local authority.
From 1 October 2022, local authorities will be required to have licensing schemes open in their areas for all short-term lets in Scotland. Accommodation provided to displaced people from Ukraine is not considered a short-term let, as the accommodation is their only or principal home. This applies to rooms provided in accommodation a host lives in (while they are resident - home sharing or absent – home letting), and offering the use of a second home (secondary letting).
After 1 October 2022, if the accommodation is no longer being used for displaced people from Ukraine, and it is intended to be used as a short-term let, a short-term let licence will be required. Further information can be found at the short-term lets page on our website.
Requirements and expectations – following arrival
The dominant languages in Ukraine are Ukrainian and Russian. You should not expect your guests to be able speak or read English. Free online translation services may be helpful in communicating in the early phases of a match, however users should note that these are not fully reliable.
Where the guest is accessing public services, licensed interpreters will be provided.
If you are housing displaced people from Ukraine in your home you should support guests to adapt to life in Scotland, initially checking if they have enough food and supplies such as toiletries, along with checking if they have access to a mobile phone and internet to stay in touch with family members.
As a host, you are not expected to cover these costs, as guests have access to public funds and can apply for benefits and crisis grants to meet their living costs, including food.
Rent and guest expectations
Guests must not be charged rent and should not be providing free or underpaid labour, including domestic services and seasonal agricultural work, in exchange for accommodation and/or food.
Guests are not expected to share household chores as a condition of the hosting arrangement. It is acceptable to discuss whether this may be appropriate, and guests will usually wish to get involved.
If you breach this by charging rent this will turn the arrangement with the guest into a lease and the guest will have tenancy rights in respect of your property.
If, following the end of the matched arrangement and having notified local authorities of this, you start accepting rent it is for you to ensure you understand the type of lease the individual will have in respect of your property and adhere to all legal requirements imposed on you as a landlord. Where this is no longer a matched arrangement, you will not be eligible to the £350 ‘thank you’ payment.
Under no circumstances should displaced people from Ukraine be asked to contribute money or services directly to their “hosts” (either living with them or separate) under the Super Sponsor scheme. There is a risk to children and adults of exploitation in the form unpaid or underpaid work.
Accommodation used under an occupancy arrangement (not a lease) by a person under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship scheme and the Scottish Super Sponsor scheme, does not constitute the use of a property for the purposes of landlord registration.
We would recommend that the host and the guest enter into a formal written agreement which sets out how the relationship is to operate in practice. As no rent is being paid by the guest, the occupancy arrangement will not constitute a tenancy so the statutory or common law rules on tenancies will not apply. It will be for the host and the guest to decide the terms of the occupancy agreement but it is recommended that any agreement, at minimum, provides for the following issues:
- where the guest is being accommodated in a self-contained property, the arrangements by which the host can access that property
- how the guest is to treat the property or that part of the property being occupied by the guest
- where the guest is being accommodated in a self-contained property, who is to be responsible for paying utility bills
- how the occupancy arrangement is to be brought to an end by either party
Where the guest is matched to a host in shared accomodation:
- you (the host) remain responsible for utility bills. The £350 thank you payment that hosts will receive per month is expected to cover any utility bill increases
- there is not an expectation that you will have to provide food or cook for guests beyond the initial needs upon arrival, but you may wish to do so at your own discretion. Guests have access to public funds and can apply for benefits and crisis grants to meet their living costs
Where guests are matched into a property where they are the sole occupants, the following applies:
- as they are the only person/people living in the property, they would become liable for the property’s bills (excluding mortgage and factors fees) from the date of their entry. The property owner would not be expected to cover utility bills unless they agree to do so voluntarily
- guests have access to public funds and therefore can apply for benefits and crisis grants to meet their living costs should they need to, and support from local authority can be provided to progress this
- Council Tax will not be liable on the property whilst the Ukrainian guests are the sole occupants as these properties have been given exempt status
- for self-catering holiday accommodation units occupied solely by displaced people under the Super Sponsor scheme, non-domestic rates will cease to apply and a Council Tax exemption will be applied on the property/unit
Access to healthcare
Anyone in Scotland, regardless of nationality or residence status, can receive emergency treatment and register with a GP practice to receive general medical services, at no charge.
Health boards will ensure that displaced people have access to primary and secondary health care services designed to ensure that their health needs are identified and addressed appropriately and effectively.
Mental health support and wellbeing packs
Psychological Advice Wellbeing Packs specifically aimed at providing wellbeing advice for the displaced people, their host families, as well as local organisations/services will be provided to all new arrivals at the welcome hubs, and by local authority resettlement teams/third-sector partners to every host family.
This guidance is to be used in conjunction with existing local authority processes and is designed to provide a general guide to supporting psychological wellbeing of both the displaced Ukrainians and you, the host families. These packs are currently under development.
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