Offering a home to those fleeing Ukraine

We know how keen many of our residents are to support those fleeing Ukraine following the Russian invasion and that some will want to register for the Homes for Ukraine scheme. 

The scheme offers a route to those who want to come to the UK who have someone willing to provide them with accommodation for at least six months. Those arriving under this scheme will be able to: 

  • Live and work in the UK for up to three years 
  • Access healthcare benefits, employment support, education and English language tuition 

If you wish to offer a room under this scheme, this must be rent-free. The government will instead offer you £350 a month to cover the costs of offering the room. 

Full information about the scheme and what the costs are expected to cover can be found on the Homes for Ukraine Website and at Homes for Ukraine scheme: frequently asked questions - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). 

Can I register? 

If you are eligible to take in a lodger or entitles to sublet part of your property, we will consider giving permission to offer a spare bedroom to people under this or any other refugee resettlement scheme. Consent can be withheld in some circumstances, outlined in our Lodgers, subtenants and caretakers’ policy – for example if it would cause overcrowding. 

You are not eligible to offer a spare room if you are on a short-term tenancy agreement or licence agreement. This includes those in temporary housing and key worker accommodation. 

Even if you are eligible, you must seek permission before offering to host an individual or family, to ensure you do not breach the terms of your lease or tenancy agreement. Speak to your local officer if you are interested in the scheme. 

Would I need to draw up an agreement? 

As you would not be charging rent, no tenancy is created. This will mean your guest does not have any rights to stay in your property – they in effect become a lodger. You would not need to issue paperwork, but you may decide to do so to set some ground rules. 

If you decide to withdraw your offer for any reason, you must give your guest reasonable notice to leave the property. You will not, however, need a court order to evict them. 

Will taking in a lodger affect my benefit entitlement or council tax discount? 

The government is ensuring the £350 a month thank you payment does not affect benefit entitlement and will remain tax-free, neither will it affect your right to claim the council tax discount. 

Offering longer-term accommodation 

It is important to bear in mind that should you decide to offer accommodation on a longer-term basis, outside of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, the legal rights of the person staying with you could change. If you are considering a longer-term offer, speak to your local officer as this will need further permission. 

They will also be able to explain whether your welfare benefits entitlement could be affected, and put you in touch with the welfare benefits team for more information 

Read more about taking in a lodger. 

Safeguarding 

At Notting Hill Genesis we take our safeguarding responsibilities very seriously. This also applies to refugees and asylum seekers, who have the same fundamental right to safety and protection as anyone else. 

If you are concerned about the safety of a refugee or resident, report it to us immediately. If there is a risk of serious harm, call 999. 

If you intend to host a refugee, please consider the following: 

  • Does your household already include children or adults who need support? 
    Consider the impact of bringing additional children or vulnerable adults into your home, both on your household and the people you host. If anyone within your household is subject to safeguarding process, you should speak to the allocated social worker and your local officer to ensure all risks are appropriately considered. 

  • Offering support 
    The primary responsibility for therapeutic or welfare support to refugees remains with statutory services. However, you may wish to consider whether you have the capacity and resilience to support people likely to be traumatised by what they have been through and the situation they have left.

  • Staying alert to risks of exploitation or abuse 
    From a safeguarding point of view, refugees and asylum seekers are not automatically deemed vulnerable and their autonomy should be respected, but they may face certain risks associated with their experiences. At present there is a reported heightened risk of sexual exploitation of both adults and children, as well as people trafficking and modern slavery. It is important you stay alert to these risks both for you and any guests. 

    Unaccompanied children may also be at risk of being exploited. They become the responsibility of children’s social care on arrival, but some children are asking to be hosted. We will not agree to residents hosting unaccompanied children, meaning anyone under the age of 18. 

    More information on safeguarding risks can be found at Spot the signs | The Salvation Army