Considering offering accommodation to someone from Ukraine? Learn about hosting a Ukrainian visitor and the legal aspects

Offering to Let Someone from Ukraine Stay

The UK government has launched the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme to help individuals and families find shelter and support during the ongoing crisis. This article talks about the initiative for those interested in offering accommodation or seeking assistance under the scheme.

Hosting Individuals from Ukraine

You can host someone through this scheme. Whether you have a specific person in mind or want to be matched with individuals, this initiative lets you offer support to those in need.

As a host, your local council will thank you by providing a monthly payment of £350. After a year, this payment increases to £500 per month and continues at this rate for the second year.

Bringing Family to the UK

If you want to bring your family to the UK, they may qualify for a Ukraine family visa. Keep in mind that hosting family members under this scheme does not qualify you for the government’s ‘thank you payment.’

Eligibility and Application

 You must have a suitable living space, which can include a spare room or an unoccupied property.

The offered space must comply with safety standards, accommodate the number of occupants appropriately, have functioning smoke alarms, and have undergone a gas safety check within the last year.

Ensure that your space meets size requirements by referring to your local council’s regulations on overcrowding.

If you are residing in the UK on a visa, you must have a minimum of 6 months of legal residence remaining to meet requirements.

Safety Checks and Home Visits

Before your guest arrives, safety checks will be done on you, your guests, and other adults in your home. These checks include police record assessments and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. Your local council will also visit your home to check if it’s suitable.

Permission from Landlord or Mortgage Provider

If you rent or have a mortgage, get written permission from your landlord or mortgage provider before applying to the scheme. This written confirmation can be used as proof if necessary.

Who can you Host

you can accommodate the following individuals as a host:

  • Ukrainian citizens.
  • Partners of Ukrainian citizens, including spouses, fiancé(e)s, civil partners, proposed civil partners, or partners who have cohabited for at least 2 years.
  • Children under 18 who are children of Ukrainian citizens.
  • Parents of Ukrainian citizens whom you intend to host.
  • Individuals who were residing in Ukraine on or before December 31, 2021, or children born after this date.

Hosting Unaccompanied Children 

If you plan to host an unaccompanied child under 18, there are special rules to follow:

  • Demonstrate prior acquaintance with the child’s parent or guardian
  • Commit to caring for the child for 3 years or until they reach 18.
  • Undergo safeguarding checks to ensure a safe hosting environment.

Financial Considerations

Hosts are expected to provide accommodation for at least 6 months, ideally longer. Charging rent to guests is not allowed. Instead, the government provides a monthly ‘thank you payment’ for each hosted individual, even if you host multiple people across different properties.

This payment is tax-exempt and doesn’t count as income for benefits calculations. Hosting won’t affect your eligibility for benefits or council tax discounts like single-person discounts.

If you host in a property subject to an empty homes premium, you won’t have to pay the premium while guests are there, and council tax may be reduced. If you receive a Council Tax Reduction, check with your local council about any impact on your benefits.

Hosting in your main residence won’t affect your home insurance for the first year. But if you plan to host in another property or want coverage for guests’ belongings, consult your insurance provider for details.

Getting Ready to Host Individuals

Expect guests who are not fluent in English at all.

Be mindful that they may have experienced family separation and trauma from events in their home country.

Some guests may have disabilities or additional needs. Stay informed about any special requirements and be ready to accommodate them.

Supporting your Guest

Offer suitable accommodation for their stay.

Coordinate their arrival in the UK by meeting them at a designated ‘welcome point.’

Assist them in registering for local services like a GP (general practitioner) and dentist.

Consider providing meals, especially upon their initial arrival.

Ensure they have access to the internet to stay informed, contact loved ones, and connect with the local Ukrainian community.

Rights and Services

Your hosted guests have specific rights and access to various services in the UK:

The right to work or study.

Eligibility to claim benefits.

Access to the National Health Service (NHS).

Enrollment in local schools.

The option to rent or buy accommodation.

Participation in free English language classes.

Please note that it may take some time for your guests to start receiving benefits, and registering with a GP may require some initial adjustments.

Additional Support

To provide additional support for your hosted guests from Ukraine, consider these steps:

Look for Ukrainian community groups in your area.

Explore interpreter services to facilitate communication.

Identify mental health and trauma support groups that can offer specialized assistance.

Inquire about support services provided by your local council to access available resources.

After your guests arrive, your local council will conduct checks to ensure they receive the necessary support.

For further guidance and assistance, your guests can contact the Ukraine Support Helpline operated by Barnardo’s. This helpline offers advice, assistance, and access to therapy services.

Ending Hosting Arrangements

If you need to stop hosting individuals through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, notify your local council promptly to stop receiving the ‘thank you payment.’ If your guests must leave before six months, provide at least two months’ notice, and the council will help them find another host.

In some cases, if your guests have enough resources, they might find rental housing. Alternatively, you can agree to rent a room or rooms to them, potentially under the government’s ‘Rent a Room scheme,’ which lets hosts earn up to £7,500 in rent each year tax-free.

If hosting becomes impossible and your guests have nowhere else to go, they can apply for homelessness assistance, with the same rights as British citizens.

How to Apply

If you don’t have a specific individual in mind to host, you can register for matching on GOV.UK.

If you’ve already chosen someone to host, they should apply online through the official government website. During the application, you’ll need to provide essential details like your name, address, and passport number.

The application process may differ based on whether your guests have a Ukrainian international passport. Make sure you know the requirements for your guests’ travel documentation.

Arrival in the UK

When your guests arrive in the UK, they should try to choose a ‘welcome point’ as their entry point. Most major ports and airports in the UK serve as welcome points, and you can find a list on GOV.UK.

Government representatives will meet your guests at the chosen welcome point, guide them to a waiting area, and provide each guest with £200 for initial expenses. You will need to arrange transportation from the arrival point to their intended place of stay.

Additionally, guests with Ukrainian international passports can travel for free on buses and trains for 48 hours after arriving in the UK.

The ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme allows people in the UK to offer support and accommodation to those affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Participating in this initiative can make a significant difference in the lives of refugees seeking safety.

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