6 Sep 2016

A Starter Guide to Safe Hosting

How you can meet the Homestay Challenge…

We know many of you are taking heaps of inspiration from our Homestay campaign to turn your spare rooms into a temporary space for potential guests in 2017. And we hope you’re conjuring up your own exciting ideas to welcome people to Hull and the region.

If you are considering opening your doors to visitors, there are a few small – but oh-so-necessary – practicalities you’ll need to take on board. Have a gander through this starter guide. Honestly, it’ll be worth it.

Safety first, people

If your guests find themselves in a pickle – if they’ve broken a leg, or fall ill – they’ll need the right digits to call. These include local emergency numbers and, very importantly, the number for the local hospital. I’m sure your guests will thank you later.

Remember, you will be your guests’ main point of contact throughout their stay so making sure they can contact you is a big one. If something goes awry, you may need to fly by to ensure they’re A-OK. It’s also handy to provide them with another contact as back-up in case you’re not available. How should they contact you? Call? Text? Facetime? Let ’em know.

Stock up on supplies

A basic first aid kit is essential, and available from most chemists. If you want to go above and beyond, a small welcome pack of essential groceries or toiletries will be much appreciated by your guests.

Fire prevention

So this isn’t legal advice, but it’s definitely a starting point to get your brain ticking. Make sure you do your research and look into this subject properly – here is a handy guide to fire safety which is well worth the read.

It’s really important you carry out a risk assessment on your property and if necessary, make those improvements to your existing fire safety measures and review them. This includes considering the needs of people with disabilities, and fitting alarm systems. If you don’t fill out a risk assessment, you’re breaking the law so don’t be naughty.

Labelling fire exits, locations of fire extinguishers and providing handy maps are always helpful.

Safety first

Ensure the fixtures and fittings in your home are safe, especially for children and guests who may have disabilities.

If you have any dangerous objects in your home, get rid ASAP and fix anything that needs a little TLC, such as exposed wires, broken rails or floorboards. Use your nut and take every accident prevention measure possible.

Even the climate of your home is important. Some heaters can be difficult to operate, so it’s best to leave clear instructions, in case you’re guests end up sweating or freezing themselves silly.

Follow your gas safety regulations and have a fully functioning carbon monoxide detector – it’s better to be safe than sorry, chaps.

Think of the neighbours

Pop next door and let your neighbours know you’re planning on having guests over.

Be mindful of babies, pets and party time. Family time generally means less bassline. Perhaps create your own “party policy”.

Also be mindful of pets, ensuring guests are clued up on your own rules and regulations for keeping them in the property.

Be sure to cover all parking rules, too, no one wants a souvenir from the traffic warden.

Taxes

Eurgh. Here we go. Taxes! We could delve into this all day, but basically, if you earn money from hosting, it’s income, so it will be subject to tax after deductions for “allowable expenses”.

Allowable expenses can include utility bills and council tax, find out more here. You may need to declare this to HM Revenue & Customs, depending how much you’re earning, too.

Do your research and work out where you fit into the mix.

You could also benefit from the Government’s “rent-a-room” allowance, which may allow you to earn an amount of the income from renting part of your home without having to declare it or pay tax on it. These things are always subject to change, so keep-up-to date here.

If you’ve decided to host in a property that isn’t your main home, the rules that apply to rental income from property will apply. Read more here.

Contracts and mortgages

Have a browse through those hefty contracts to make sure you’ve got the go-ahead to host, let or sublet. Read, read, read. Speak to your mortgage provider or landlord.

Subsidised housing

If you live in public or subsidised housing, your landlord or housing provider should be able to give you the lowdown on this, just ask.

Insurance

If you fancy getting hooked up with Airbnb, have a read through their Host Guarantee and Host Protection Insurance and read the T&C’s for more info.

Also make sure you sort out your own basic coverage and liability insurance.

and Finally…

For more information, have a read through this handy guide from Air BnB.

Visit Hull and East Yorkshire provide a free welcome training programme, The Big Welcome, for anyone who welcomes visitors as part of their job, or through Homestay. It’s packed with everything you need to see Hull from a visitor’s perspective, including top tips on the little things you can do to make a huge difference to your guests.

For more info, get in touch at info@vhey.co.uk

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