I need advise, please. What gives a homeshare agency (purportedly a charity) the right to charge accommodation fee (a.k.a. rent) for a property that they do not own, manage or maintain?
I signed up with Novus Homeshare, thinking that the £200 monthly fee was for special services that Novus will be providing me as a homesharer, as it seemed to state in the agreement. I had no idea exactly what these services were. When I asked them what it was for, they said it was for the accommodation fee, which was nothing compared to how much I would pay for a room in London. If one did the maths, though, this fee and the work hours I was putting in was at least equivalent to - if not slightly higher than - the normal rent for a room in greater London.
They matched me with an 89-yo lady afflicted with Alzheimer’s, who was living with a woman in her 40s, the daughter of a departed friend. This woman had asked to stay with the elderly lady only while she was trying to find a place to rent. Having been very good friends with this woman’s mother, the homeowner took her in (with her cat) rent-free. I paid £100 admin fee after the successful match, though I pointed out that I specifically stated in my profile that I did not want to live in a house with pets. Since the cat didn’t belong to the homeowner whom I was matched with, I moved in, thinking the woman and her cat were not going to stay there for long. It turns out that the woman-cat pair had been staying there for two years already, rent-free. Now that I was there, I was not just caring for the elderly but also cleaning up after the woman, who had a knack for leaving the kitchen in such a state and who very rarely cleaned after her cat. While I was doing the 10-hour work-week, I was also paying Novus £200 a month. It was indeed a small rent to pay, but if I factored in the work I had been doing, I reckoned that I was in effect paying around £670 a month - which was roughly the normal rent. I started questioning the £200 monthly fee from the very start and so I did not sign the Homeshare agreement, though I did pay for the first 7 months. The woman and her cat are finally gone, but the elderly lady’s affliction had gotten worse and it is getting more difficult to care for her. Meanwhile, Novus is chasing after my rent arrears. I never got a visit from them. The only couple of times they got in touch with me was to remind me to pay the monthly fee. I did have one meeting with them, after the 4th month, when I told them about the cat.
I do not understand why I need to pay this “charity” £200 monthly. I sent them an email asking for an explanation and they said it was such a small amount to pay for rent in London and that it was stated in the application form I completed when I signed up. Can anyone help me understand what’s going on here?
I couldn’t get into the homeshare link, is this just linking up home owners with lodgers or more specifically home owners who need care with live in carers?
Novus Homeshare ?
Their FAQ section is relevant here :
Certainly a registered charity … but with commercial terms ?
There are several " Home share " schemes currently running across the UK.
I lifted this off the Share and Care Homeshare web site … affliated to Homeshare UK :
Why do I pay a monthly fee for the facilitation of the service?
The fee paid by both the Householder and Sharer goes towards the running of the scheme and the on-going mentoring and support.
About us -Share and Care live in help for the elderly and families
As Henrietta has mentioned , The Homeshare UK web site is down … as I type.
Thanks Chris- interesting concept
… and there is money to be made by those who operate such schemes.
Beware the wolves in sheep’ clothing … charities masquerading as businesses.
Even AGE UK got involved with Homeshare UK … any kick backs by chance ?
Hi Therine, and everybody
I have done some research at the Charity Commission and at Companies House and it does seem to be.a genuine charity running under Harrow Carers as part of a group of Carers Organisations. As well as Homeshare they provide a range of other services to carers, including Homecare, Young Carers get together etc etc
There are no senior managers being paid fat cat salaries and their accounts are submitted and audited on time.
It clearly says that if you are unhappy in your placement to contact them and ask to be matched with someone else, which is what I suggest you do. I’m not sure that withholding the rent money was a good move as , to my untrained amateur eye, it does seem like you are breaking your side of the agreement. You may want to get legal advice which would be costly, or you could try talking them to resolve the situation.
I found it interesting that there were only 48 such Homeshares reported in their last report to the Charity commission. The householder pays a fee, as does the sharer. Any monies go into a general pot to pay staff, admin and fund the other charitable services they offer . It is a fairly new concept and cases like this might lead to tighter contractsas teething problems are ironed out.
Hope this helps
BTW, anyone can check out a charity or company as I have just done, and I would always recommend doing research before entering into any contract for anything
Interesting concept … Homeshare UK … when looking at the USA and Australian models.
( Almost like a price comparison site … matching landlords and renters … under the scheme … a sense of bartering ,
cheaper rent / chores undertaken within the spirit of the scheme. )
The word FRANCHISE springs to mind but not strictly in the business sense … more of affliate organisations …
as mentioned earlier … Camelot chipped in … even AGE UK were involved for a three year period.
As Mrs. A has pointed out , c.e.o. on , around , £ 45k per annum which is not excessive by any means.
( No evidence of excesses in either the USA or Australian models. )
Still , taking fees at both ends to provide a central pot for " Expenses " … and if said concept doubled / tripled
in size , said pot increases … what happens with that pot will be " Interesting. "
I haven’t looked into the landlord / tenants aspect … no doubt , that is covered deeper into the FAQs available
on the web sites … just how much security is offered to both parties remains undetermined … I suspect that
UK Landlord / Teneant legislation will not bite as that would certainly conplicate matters if the relationship breaks down.
Thank you for all the replies. Mrs. A, thank you for the research. I never signed the agreement though. I have paid the Admin fee for their service in matching me with a home owner. The Agreement stated that there was a monthly fee for their services in monitoring the homeshare and dealing with any concerns from both sides. None of these services, however, was given, and so I stopped paying the monthly service fee. They were just collecting the money and they told me that I was paying them for my accommodation. So in effect they are collecting rent from me even though they do not own the property while I was providing care to the homeowner. I was out of work for two months because of the stress both at work and at this home. I just learned how difficult it is to live with someone with Alzheimer’s. I could not work overtime and earn more, I had no social life and I was spending more on fare and food because the agency matched me quite far from my work area. I feel so stupid for agreeing to this homeshare scheme, but I felt quite helpless at the time and I thought I could save some money through it. Now that I will be moving out of the homeshare I would need money to pay for deposit and rent. I am, at the moment, unable to pay for the arrears. The homesharing scheme that I thought will help me save a little has now put me in debt.
I looked at the Homeshare website and they have a Member’s log in section. No way will everyone find the scheme rosy, there will be other folk who are having difficulties too. They and more experienced members of the scheme, may be able to offer you advice.