Are you looking to arrange accommodation for an extended spell in London, but unsure of the different options on offer? There are a number of subtle but important differences between a live-in landlord who rents out a spare room and a host family (or “homestay host”). For clarification on exactly what those differences consist of, this helpful blog should clear up any doubts or confusions.
1) Length of stay
In general, a host family will be amenable to a shorter-term stay than a live-in landlord. Though it will vary massively from homestay to homestay, this could be anything from a few days to a few months. The kind of landlord who advertises a spare room on Gumtree or Airbnb, on the other hand, is actively looking for a stable income source, and so will prefer a longer stay from tenants.
The motivation for a live-in landlord is simple: an additional source of income to contribute to their rent or mortgage. It should be as equally simple for the tenant, who only wants a roof over their head, a place to store their things and a warm bed at night. Whilst earning a second income for host families is part of the motivation, hosts choose to offer up a place in their home in order to interact with someone from a different country and culture, and to exchange valuable knowledge and experience with their guests.
Contracts with private landlords will vary hugely from person to person, and so anyone looking to enter into one should go over theirs with a fine-tooth comb. If there is no contract offered, then be a little bit wary. If you are staying with a live-in landlord, you will usually be there under “licence” and not tenancy. This will give you some rights, but not as many as you would have under a tenancy. With homestays, all contractual complexities are laid bare in the terms and conditions online (sees ours for reference), which dispense with jargon and make things as easy to understand as possible.
4) Security deposit
Private live-in landlords almost always demand a security deposit up-front, to cover the costs of unpaid rent, damages to the property or any other unforeseen expenses. This will vary depending on the person, but generally takes the form of a month’s rent. Host families, on the other hand, do not require any deposit at all.
5) Suitable guests
Whether you choose a live-in landlord will depend entirely on what you’re looking for from your accommodation. For those who simply require a place to rest your weary head, a live-in landlord could be a viable option. For students, interns or anyone else interested in the potential to incorporate meal plans into the package, interact with the hosts, practise their language and learn more about their culture, then a host family is the ideal choice.