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How Hosts Are Paid

Host Family Payment

If you are thinking about becoming a host family to students and want to know how, or how much, host families are paid, then read on. Similarly, if you are an existing host and are possibly looking for a new homestay provider to work with, then the below guide should give you an initial idea on how we pay our hosts.

If you have any questions, whether about rates of pay, or anything else homestay related then please do contact us for a quick chat.

How are host families categorised?

We have two categories of accommodation: Standard and Superior. Factors that we look at when categorising a homestay include:

1) Location (by zone). We calculate your zone by the nearest station(s), tube or rail, to your postcode. In practice, this is just a quick Google search on your postcode. We then use Google to calculate the distance to the nearest stations in miles. We will factor in the transport that is available. Usually homes near tube stations (including DLR and London Overground) are more sought after by students than those near rail stations. We will also consider the area itself and what it is like to live there based on our knowledge of London.

2) Standard of Accommodation – on the home visit our inspector will take photos of all rooms that student will have access to (e.g bedroom, lounge, bathroom etc). They will submit them to us and, from the office, we will be able to look at the standard of accommodation relative to student expectations.

What is a “Standard” category homestay?

A home that is categorised as Standard is a good standard of accommodation as it must meet all homestay standards required by the British Council. “Standard” in this context does not mean “basic” therefore.

A homestay can be categorised as Standard in any zone (1 – 4). In practice, most homes in zone 3 and 4 will be Standard homestays. This reflects the demand from overseas students more than anything else. These students are often here on short courses and their mind-set can be more like a tourist’s than a typical British student. They want to be as close to the centre of London as possible, so zones 1 and 2 are usually the most sought after zones.

This is not to say that there is no demand from foreign students for zones 3 or 4. In fact, many areas within these zones are in demand. We place a lot of homestay groups (students aged 16+) in zones 3 and 4 for example. It just means that we are more limited in what we can pay host families who live here.

By the same token if you live in London zones 1 or 2, then you are more likely to be classified in the higher (Superior) category. This does not mean that we can automatically pay hosts in zones 1 & 2 at the Superior level.

How much can I earn as a “Standard” category homestay?

To get an initial idea on how much you will be paid as a Standard homestay, please call us to discuss in person.  We need to get an idea of where you are and what amenities you may be able to offer in order to give you an accurate steer on rates of pay to host families.

What would make a home a “Superior”?

The first thing we look at is the location and zone of the home.  As mentioned above, homes in zones 1 & 2 are more likely to fall into our Superior category.

For a homestay to be placed in the Superior category, it then needs to offer a high standard of accommodation (e.g décor in the home and/or room, amenities such as TV, considerably larger bedroom etc).

Our home inspector will look at the home and the room(s) offered and make recommendations on the category.  Please note that this is just a recommendation as ultimately our office based team will make the final decision based on (i) the photos taken on the visit and (ii) the recommendation of the inspector.

How much can I earn as a “Superior”?

If the inspector feels that there is scope to earn the (higher) superior rates, they will discuss these rates with you on the home visit.  If you want to get a steer on this before the home visit then please call us to discuss this in person upfront.

Is there any scope to earn more by hosting?

There are additional supplements payable for:

1. Access to a private bathroom

2. Hosting junior (10 – 17 years old) students

3. Summer (July & August) supplement

Please do let us know on the host application form and/or the home visit if you can provide access to a private bathroom and whether you are interested in hosting students under 18.

When are host families paid?

Host are paid every 2 weeks in arrears. Payment is by bank transfer from HFS London to your nominated bank account.

The reason for payment in arrears is so that we can make adjustments in cases where a student (or host) cancels the booking and the student has to leave or be moved. Our entire payment system is based around this, so please ensure that you are happy with this before your register with us.

There is no flexibility to make upfront payments or vary the way our systems pay unfortunately.

What if I am not happy with your rates?

We appreciate that rates of pay are important whether you are a new or existing host.

That said it is important to keep in mind that hosting students is not necessarily the best way to maximise your earnings from a spare room.  Although we place international students all year round, there are times that are busier (e.g. May to October) than others, so it can be seasonal in nature.  The average stay of our students is also between 4 to 6 weeks.  If income is an over-riding motivator in your decision to become a host, then we would suggest that hosting might not be the best option for you.

The first thing to do is to contact us to have a discussion possible rates of pay.  We may need to send out one of home assessors to visit you to see the standard of accommodation before we can definitively advise you on rates.  Similarly, we may ask you to send in photos if you really need a more accurate guide upfront.  Usually though, we will be able to give you a fairly accurate steer on likely pay just from a brief chat over the phone.

If, on discussion, you are not happy with the pay discussed, then there is no obligation to proceed with us.  However, we would in this scenario ask that you take the time to consider the rates and make sure you are happy upfront (i.e before you proceed to apply to host with us). This will save both you and us a lot of time later down the line.


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