Host Families: Preparing for your Home Assessment Visit

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If you have applied to become a host for international students with HFS London, you will be visited at home by one of our inspectors. The home assessment visit is nothing to worry about – it’s just the standard procedure for us to evaluate your property and make sure the accommodation is suitable for our type of clients. It’s also a good opportunity to find out more about hosting and understand your responsibilities as a host family.

As we are registered with the British Council, it’s critical that all of our homestays meet the guidelines. Read on to find out what to expect from your home inspection visit and how to prepare.

Allow enough time

An inspection visit generally takes around an hour, so make sure you organise it at a time which is convenient and you won’t have to rush off. The inspector needs to look around the whole house and take images, before having a detailed discussion with you. Depending on how many questions you have, the meeting could take longer than 60 minutes.

What is your motivation for hosting?

During the meeting it’s important that we have a good chat about becoming a host family, and how it will impact your life. You’ll be asked what is behind your motivation for hosting – have you got an empty nest which is too quiet, or do you love learning about other cultures? Perhaps your main motivation is financial – that’s fine too. But we need to make sure you understanding how hosting differs from other forms of lodging and house sharing, and check it is the right choice for you and anybody else living in the home.

What is your ideal homestay guest profile?

The inspector will want to re-confirm the information you have provided in the application form you completed.  They will especially be interested in finding out what type of student you want (or do not want) to host.  Are you happy with:

  1. Hosting females, males and couples?
  2. Offering half board, as well as self-catering and bed and breakfast?
  3. Hosting 16 & 17 years olds as well as over 18s (note we do not place under 16s)?
  4. Students who smoke (outside the home maybe)?

These are some of the things our home assessor will ask you, so have a think about them in advance.  Bear in mind that the more flexible you can be, the more students we can contact you about. For example, if you are able to host international students aged 16 & 17, then you will be contacted a lot. This is a growing market in language travel.

Prepare the guest bedroom & home

Be advised that on the initial visit we need to take photos of (i) the student bedroom(s) and (ii) all the communal areas in the home (living room, kitchen, bathroom etc) that your student will have access to.  These will be used on your homestay photo profile to help students decide where they would like to live. With this in mind, you should make sure the guest bedroom and the communal areas of the property are presentable and looking their best! Make up the bed with neutral bedding and make the bedroom look as spacious and clutter-free as possible. Does it have adequate storage for clothing and a desk? If not you may have to buy this furniture for the guest room as it is expected by many students. Tidying up around the house is also recommended.

Bear in mind that the homes that show best in the photo profile that we produce after the home visit are more likely to be chosen and booked by our overseas students.

Write down your questions

The visit from an inspector is your ideal opportunity to ask questions and have an in-depth discussion about becoming a host. Therefore, if you do think of any queries you’d like answering it’s best to write them down in advance so you don’t forget. We should cover the basics such as meal plans, payment procedures and expectations of host families – but if you do need any clarification our friendly HFS inspectors are here to help.

The home assessment visit isn’t designed to catch you out – we just need to find out more about you and your accommodation. Get in touch if you have any questions.

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