Safeguarding is our Priority

Hapipod can open up a world of ideal homesharers, but we are an introduction and matching site only for potential Hosts and Homemates. Anyone you connect with on the site has passed a robust ID verification, money laundering and negative media check, but there are a number of further steps you must take to check the suitability of potential candidates.

Here we give you a comprehensive set of guidelines on setting up a homeshare. All these measures help maximise the likelihood of successful arrangements, but it is ultimately up to each member to undertake these checks, agree fees and activities, manage expectations, and get along. Hapipod does not monitor homeshares once organised and cannot be liable for their outcomes.

Section 10 is a checklist that summarises a Host’s legal responsibilities when taking in a Homemate.

Please read through these carefully.

  1. ID Verification and Background Checks
  2. DBS Certificates
  3. Messaging and Exchanging Contact Details
  4. References
  5. Covid Vaccinated
  6. Interviews
  7. Using the Contract Template
  8. Ongoing Monitoring
  9. Terminating a Contract
  10. Host Checklist and Legal Obligations
1. ID Verification and Background Checks

As a basic safeguarding measure everyone joining our community must pass a robust ID Verification and Background Check conducted by our partner Yoti. This identity platform is trusted by Governments and among others, the NHS and Age UK. The check includes anti-money laundering and negative media. A pass can give you a level of confidence in someone’s identity and background. All data is held securely (see privacy policy). This is not a criminal record check - that is the DBS, see section 2, which is equally important.

This check requires a one-off, non-refundable £20 fee. If you fail you can challenge it, but Hapipod reserves the right to uphold it. A fail means you cannot connect with other users, and have the right to remove your profile.

The process is technology-based. You’ll need a camera on your computer or phone and the facility to upload documents as jpegs or pdfs. You may need a little help with it, or sometimes to repeat parts of the process, but it is worth it!

This is how the process works:

  • you upload requested identity documents and take a selfie
  • it checks your facial biometrics, confirms your ID and registered address
  • it searches international financial and criminal watchlists
  • it extensively scans published media for negative information
  • it usually takes a few minutes to process, but in rarer instances requiring manual checks, it can take from 2 hours up to 4 working days
  • you will receive an email notification of whether you pass or fail
  • profiles indicate a ‘pass’ as a green identity card, or ‘still pending’ in grey

For your safety only verified members who have passed this test can view your full profile information, contact you or reply to your messages.

Registered users who have not yet passed will only be able to see your basic profile with limited information and no personal preference detail (see privacy policy).

2. DBS Certificates (or alternative National Criminal Record Check)

DBS Certificates (Disclosure and Barring Service) are criminal record checks showing any unspent criminal convictions or cautions held on police records. This is an important measure of someone’s safety risk. Everyone is asked to indicate if they have one. A foreign national may wish to provide their equivalent national certificate.

If someone indicates they have a DBS certificate or online certification number the fingerprint on their profiles will be shown in green. You must still verify it for yourself as follows:

  • ask to see a copy
  • ask for an identity document or utility bill alongside it to check the address listed is correct
  • ensure the date of the check is within a reasonable time period
  • If it is an online certification number, the individual can provide you access to see it online by following these instructions

We advise everyone to either select someone who says they have a DBS certificate using the relevant search filter, or to ask a person of interest to apply for one.

Anyone can apply for a basic DBS certificate here. There is a £23 fee.

3. Messaging and Exchanging Contact Details

It is most important that everyone in our Hapipod community feels comfortable using our site, and our Code of Conduct is very clear on the rules for internal messaging, community groups and the homeshares themselves. If at any point you feel someone is being abusive or exerting undue pressure on you, please report this to us straight away at support@hapipod.com We would advise you to use our internal message system to communicate with other users until you feel ready to give your email address to someone, such as when you want to be sent a copy of their DBS certificate, ID document or references.

4. References

Character references can help build a picture of someone’s personality. Hapipod recommends Hosts to request 3 references from a potential Homemate including at least one professional one, but you need to verify them yourself to check their authenticity via email and/or phonecall.

5. Covid Vaccinated

Until Covid is successfully overcome, certain people with health vulnerabilities may be concerned about whether the person they are sharing with has been vaccinated. This doesn’t have to preclude you from finding a homeshare companion. Hapipod offers the opportunity to indicate on your profile whether you have been vaccinated (the icon is then shown in green), and to search using that filter. You will still need to assess the validity of someone’s claim by asking to see documented proof.

6. Interviews

In making your final selection from your shortlist of candidates, before agreeing a contract, Hapipod recommends 2 stages of interview, in advance of which you should draft a thorough series of questions to make sure you cover off all important topics:

  • Firstly, hold a video conferencing interview with each of the potential Hosts or Homemates on your shortlist
  • Secondly hold a face-to-face interview before making a final decision

Both Hosts and Homemates should make final judgments on suitability based on careful assessment of all the information available, and ideally with a second opinion from a family member or friend.

7. Using the Contract Template

Hapipod’s contract template is available to download free of charge to subscribers, and is designed to be adapted and tailored for both parties’ mutual arrangements. Hapipod recommends you seek your own legal advice on it to ensure it suits your particular circumstances. Hapipod strongly advises you utilise a written contract rather than relying on verbal commitments.

8. Ongoing Monitoring

Hapipod has no involvement with individual homeshares. It is up to the parties to manage expectations during homeshares and make them work. Most will be fine as they are based on thorough background checks and mutual trust created through good communication in advance of the agreement. If you are a Host living alone, you should have a family member or friend to help you decide on a homesharer and keep an eye on your situation, to help terminate the contract in the unlikely event that things don’t work out as you hoped. Everyone should have a personal contact to turn to as a basic safeguarding measure.

Or, if you’re a Homemate who feels a Host is asking you to undertake tasks not previously agreed that may be unreasonable or inappropriate, or behaving in a way that makes you feel threatened or uncomfortable, you should give notice as soon as possible, find a new homeshare and let Hapipod know at support@hapipod.com. Our Code of Conduct is clear and Hapipod reserves the right to ban from the site anyone suspected of acting inappropriately.

9. Terminating a Contract

If either a Host or a Homemate wants to end a homeshare early they must give reasonable notice to terminate. The suggested notice in Hapipod’s template Homeshare contract is one week which is the minimum period that can be given. Hapipod recommends notice is always given in writing, and it is often helpful to get someone help you to prepare and give the notice.

10. Host Checklist and Legal Obligations

There are a number of checks and measures that Hosts are legally obliged to complete if you take in a Homemate, all of which ensure your own home safety as well. We explain them below:

  • Room and Access: Ensure that you have a suitable premises. The spare room must be furnished properly and big enough for someone to comfortably occupy see Government’s Guidance on room sizes, and there must be a safe means of escape in case of fire.
  • Gas & Electrical Safety: If you take in a Homemate you’re required by law to have your gas appliances checked annually by someone on the gas safe register. You should give your Homemate a copy of your Gas Safety Record when they move in. You must also carry out a 5 yearly PAT safety testing of electrical appliances using a qualified electrician. If you have a fuel burning appliance, open fire or attached garage, you must have a working carbon monoxide monitor and working smoke alarms throughout the property, as well as a fire extinguisher or fire blanket in high risk areas like the kitchen.
  • Consents: If you’re a tenant or your home is mortgaged you should tell your landlord or lender, respectively, if you wish to take in a Homemate, and get their consent. If you have a spare room in a property you own or rent and are receiving state benefits, you should check if being a Host will affect the amount of your benefits payments.
  • A Homemate’s Residency Status: A homemate can be any nationality, but since 2016 the law has required homeowners to check that any lodgers are legally allowed to live and work in the UK. See the Government’s Guidance for more details.
  • Council Tax: Make any necessary adjustment to your council tax status, especially if you were registered as sole occupant (students are exempt and will not affect a Host’s single occupancy status)
  • HMO: If you have more than one Homemate or other lodger in your home you may have to apply for a licence to run an HMO – House in Multiple Occupation license - see the Government’s Government’s HMO Page. As a rough guide, an HMO arises when 3 or more people who are not from the same household (for example people who are not a family) share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. The usual procedure is to apply to your local council who will inspect the property to ensure it is big enough and is safe.
  • Insurance: You should notify your home contents insurer that you are taking in a lodger to avoid invalidating any claims. It may increase your premium slightly. If it becomes too high or your policy doesn’t allow for it you can find alternative policies here for example. This is not a legal obligation but an essential measure for your own peace of mind.