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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How to get started?  

We recommend reading first the pages for the Accommodation providers / For those staying or looking for home accommodation and the Home Accommodation Guide, plus the questions collected on this page.  

If you need any further information, don´t hesitate to get in touch with us.  

For how long does the home stay provider have to commit to hosting?  

Home accommodation should basically be more long term living arrangement, for example for the duration of the asylum process. Occasionally there might be a need for short term accommodation as well.  

It is good to think before offering home accommodation about the duration; for how long can you offer it?  

It is recommended that both parties agree on the duration of home stay at the same time as they are going through all the other practical matters related to accommodation.  

Both parties have a right to end the home stay anytime.  

What does the accommodation provider have an obligation to offer? 

The host is expected to offer safe home for the person who is seeking international protection in Finland – and that is all. The home stay provider has no obligation to support the hosted one financially.  

Those seeking international protection are paid monthly allowance for food and other necessities.  

Basic principle is that the host is responsible for costs related to accommodation.    

In some cases it can be agreed that the resident pays a certain part of extra costs related to accommodation, like electricity and water bills.  

Who pays for the food?  

The accommodation povider has no responsibility to sustain the hosted one. Basically they are expected to take care of the costs of their own food and other necessities.   

How to share food and other costs can be agreed upon beforehand, for example when/if home accommodation agreement is done.  

The home stay provider and the resident can also find and decide about an alternative way of buying groceries, paying for them and cooking their food if they wish.  

Does the accommodation provider receive compensation in money?   

The host will not be compensated for offering home stay. The activity is voluntary and free of charge or compensation in money or work input.  

Who are the people living in home accommodation?  

Diverse group of asylum seekers are interested in home accommodation.  

They all have different backgrounds, are of different ages and from different countries of origin.  

Some of them have wide language skills, some only speak their native tongue.  

Unaccompanied minor asylum seekers cannot live in home accommodation since they have their own reception system with specific requirements.  

According to our expeience people from very different backgrounds have more in common than they have things setting them apart.   

For the home stay provider it is good to be aware of the fact that people seeking international protection in Finland often come from very difficult circumstances.  

Some of them have fled war, torture or the risk of persecution. Some have been in the middle of an armed conflict.  

Leaving one´s home for any of the above mentioned reasons is a grave situation and many have also had a long and hard journey to Finland.  

It is important for people in that situation to have sufficient amount of support as well as their own space in a peaceful environment.  

The accommodation provider and the resident can agree between themselves whether the host acts as a support person as well. That is not expected but will be an individual decision.   

If the asylum seeker needs specialized psycho-social care from a professional, they have a right to receive it through the reception centre.  

Who is responsible for a succesful home stay?  

The accommodation provider and the resident make a decision concerning home stay, and both parties should do it after careful consideration.  

The network recommends that the principles and practical actions will be agreed together in advance.  

The support association has drafted an agreement model that can be utilized and both parties can sign it. Agreement can be amended later during the home stay, if necessary, and the draft (in Finnish) can be found here

The parties of the agreement are the home stay provider and the resident. Both parties are responsible for the shared life going smoothly.  

What kind of home is needed to accommodate a person or a family? Do they need their own room?   

The resident(s) need a sufficient amount of private space, which often means their own room. If a whole family is accommodated, they may need even more space than that.  

It is useful to think for yourself, what kind of surroundings would you need to live in for several months and how much of your own space would you need.  

The circumstances for the resident should be suitable for living year around.    

It is recommended that the resident will get to know the space before the accommodation begins.  

When agreeing upon the general rules of the stay, both parties can also decide on which space in the home will be shared and which spaces will be private.  

If you have doubts about the space, you can contact the local volunteers or the staff at support association. With them you can discuss matters related to your home space and other practical things in home stay.     

What to do if/when running into cultural differences?  

There can be big differences between cultures, communities and personal habits. However, person coming from a different culture is primarily an individual with whom you may have more in common than you think.   

Things like cooking, shared hobbies or interests and playing with children can bring people together regardless of culture. Differences and challenges may come up but those can usually be tackled with humour and flexibility.  

Securing privacy and safety 

Home stay is supposed to be a safe space where everyone can be themselves.  

We strive for home stays with equality instead of there being one person in a helper role and the other one being helped.  

Clearly the home stay provider has more power resources in the situation compared to the residing asylum seeker. This is important to be aware of.  

People who are seeking international protection usually come from challenging circumstances. It is especially important for them that they have a right to their own safe space at home.  

It is good to think about the safe space issues already when considering home stay and also think about one´s own motivations in offering it or seeking it.  

Good talking connection based on mutual trust and respect from the start is of importance.    

If there are difficulties during the home stay, it is useful for both parties to know their rights and also know that there is help available. The Home Accommodation Network and its support association can assist you if needed.   

The Home Accommodation Network recognizes how important safety is to all parties of the home stay.  

In collaboration with anti-violence expert Elina Nikulainen we have produced guidelines to prevent sexual exploitation, violence or harassment in home stay.

The guidelines are available in English and can be found here

Can an unaccompanied minor asylum seeker be accommodated in home stay? 

The Home Accommodation Network does not arrange home stays for unaccompanied minor asylum seekers. Their accommodation has specific requirements related to child protection laws. Child with parent can be hosted in home stay.  

What if the home stay provider and the hosted one don´t speak a common language?   

Lacking a common language can be a challenge. However, many succesful home stays have happened through our network even if the parties did not have a common language. Good will, google translator and body language can help a lot.  

In the beginning an interpreter can help with deciding on practical matters and the staff at the support association can be contacted if interpreter is needed to help.  

The local groups may also have volunteers with language skills who can help with interpreting.  

Who should I inform if I become a home accommodation provider?  

Every person who has applied for international protection in Finland needs to be registered at a reception centre for asylum seekers, because the services and rights asylum seekers are entitled to are provided by the centres. Asylum seekers in private accommodation are required to inform the centre about their address.  

The home stay provider should inform the lessor or the building superintendent if for example the water bill is based on the number of persons living in the dwelling unit.  

Can the resident be asked to pay rent or for example cleaning help to compensate for accommodation?  

Home Accommodation Network fosters home stays without compensation and it is not a service for renting out apartments. The resident is not a tenant or a domestic servant.  

Hosting is voluntary and money or work input cannot be expected as compensation.   

The home stay provider and the resident decide between themselves on how the normal domestic chores related to living together will be divided. Preferably this should be discussed before the home stay begins.    

If an asylum seeker lives in private accommodation, do they lose some benefits or services provided by the reception centre?  

Person seeking international protection in Finland is entitled to all services provided by the reception centre (e.g social and health services, and monthly allowance) even if they are not living in the centre but are in home stay or another form of private accommodation. 

Asylum seeker has to inform the reception centre about their domicile and they have to be actually living in that address.  

The form of accommodation does not affect the protection status, the duration of the asylum process or the outcome of it.  

Because asylum seekers´s own reception centre may be in different locality from the home stay, the asylum seeker is not always able to take part in the work or study activities provided by the centre.

Does the home stay provider need to take into account specific health matters?  

We recommended that everyone residing in same household checks that they have sufficient vaccinations.  

What else needs to be taken into account if you consider offering home stay? 

If there are more than one person living in your home, it is important that offering home stay is a decision everyone is involved in.  

If you have huge challenges in your life or at home life, it is not recommended to offer home stay in that situation.  

Before offering home stay it is recommended to think about one´s motivation and expectations regarding it.  

Home stay may cause some extra costs and its impact on one´s finances should be carefully considered.

If offering home stay does not feel like a good option in your situation, you can participate as a volunteer in Home Accommodation Network activities and support home stays that way.  

Does giving home accommodation affect Kela benefits that the host receives? 

According to Kela accommodating a person seeking international protection does not affect the housing benefits if the accommodation is temporary and lasts the maximum of six months.

I cannot offer accommodation but would like to help. What can I do? 

Home Accommodation Network focuses on coordination and support of home stays. You can participate in network activities in many ways, not only as a host. You can ask the staff and local volunteers for more information about voluntary tasks. More info on Local groups -page.