Host Families: How to Deal with Challenging Behaviour

challenging behaviour

Here at HFS London, we place many international students in homestay accommodation. Most of these placements run smoothly, but from time to time, things don’t go as planned and you may need to deal with challenging behaviour.

Challenging Student Behaviour 

Generally, if there are issues between student and host, it is around simple misunderstandings. These misunderstandings can be cultural or language related. Sometimes they are the result of something as simple as not understanding the boundaries in the home.

Here are some tips on what to do when you find yourself in this situation with your international guest:

First speak to your student

Initially the best thing to do is discuss the issue with your student. If they are leaving the bathroom light on, or making too much noise in the evening, they may just not be aware. Try and be direct without coming across as unfriendly or too harsh.

It might be that they just do not know, or understand, your homestay house rules. If you have not discussed ground rules with your student, then this should be the next step. Our most experienced host families will do this in their guest’s first couple of days.

Things that you may wish to cover off in your home rules:

  • Use of telephone for incoming and outgoing calls
  • Policy for internet usage
  • Times for using the bath/shower
  • Keeping the bathroom tidy and clear of toiletries
  • Where, if at all, smoking is permitted
  • Whether visitors are welcome and until what time
  • Guests of the opposite sex
  • Times for breakfast and, if applicable, evening meals
  • What to do when a student expects to be home late
  • Rules on overnight guests
  • Number of wash loads allowed per week
  • Noise levels at particular times of the day
  • Clear guidelines on where food will be stored
  • Whether food is allowed in the student room
  • Reminder to return house keys before departure

Give it some time

Once you have drawn their attention to the issue(s), give them a little bit of time to improve. Most issues we see in homestay really are just down to simple misunderstanding.

If things don’t improve initially, you may need to have another conversation with your student. As their host, you should feel comfortable in being able to do this.

Contact us

If you feel that your student is not listening, or that they just don’t understand, you can always call us. Our team is experienced in resolving issues in the homestay environment. We will be able to advise on whether we think your student is pushing the boundaries, or otherwise. We will then make suggestions on how to try and resolve things.

Our students are usually studying at language schools or interning at companies in London. If we feel we need the support of the educational/work institution, then our accommodation team will contact their counterparts there. We may also contact the student’s study agent and/or their parents/UK guardian if we need to.

During office hours, you can contact us between 9.30am to 5.30pm. Do bear in mind that we have an emergency/out of hours telephone number too. You will find this on your homestay booking confirmation document. Feel free to call this number after hours if it is an emergency. If it is not, then please wait until the next working day and call our office number.

We will speak to the school/agent/parent/guardian, as appropriate, and ask them to talk to their student about the issue(s).

Moving your student

Usually the above will resolve things. However, if we feel that the issue is not improving, we will have one of two options:

  • Relocate the student to another homestay – this will need to be done with the agreement of the school or agent.
  • Ask the student to leave – this will usually also need to be done with the agreement of the school or agent. We might do this if we felt that the student would be more suited to another form of accommodation (e.g Halls of Residence).

Where we decide to relocate your student, we will ask you to give us some time to find a new homestay. Usually this can happen quickly, but at certain times of the year (e.g. summer) it may take a little longer.

We appreciate your patience and support while we do this.

Asking a student to leave without notice

There may be occasions where the situation is more challenging, and you want your student to leave immediately. Whether we can support this decision really depends on the situation at hand.

Ultimately, we will have to balance the welfare of both host and student. With more and more junior (U18) students choosing homestay in London, we will also need to factor in the student’s age into our decision.

If for any reason you feel unsafe or threatened in your home, or if your guest is doing anything illegal, then please let us know as soon as possible. We may ask you to send in any evidence (e.g photos or SMS messages) to support your request for an immediate eviction. Please be assured that these types of scenarios are very rare in homestay. In the last 10 years we have had only a handful of situations like these.

Summing up

In most cases, if we are involved early enough, we can resolve complaints to the satisfaction of all (host, student and school).

Where things do not improve, our next course of action is often relocation to another host family. We have a large database of homestays across London which makes this feasible, and often at short notice.

If the situation is more challenging, then please get us involved as early as possible.

Whatever the situation or challenging behaviour, we value our relationships with hosts, students and their place of study. These relationships are at the foundations of HFS London. We will always try our upmost therefore, to get things resolved to the satisfaction of all.