Doctor in the House Family Letter 2024


This letter contains important information for our hosts. Please read in full. It will only take a few minutes and should help to explain how the accommodation sector is evolving in the coming year.


Overview of the Homestay Marketplace and Doctor in the House: April 2024

Dear Hosts,
I hope you have all been keeping well and had a good start to the first part of the year, despite the incessant rain!
As we progress into 2024 it’s time again to reflect on the year gone by. To those of you who are new to Doctor in the House (DitH), this circular is sent as a reminder to our Hosts of your responsibilities to our Guests, and as an aide-memoire of what needs to be done as a responsible Host during 2024. We also like to take the opportunity to help explain the recent changes to our platform which might affect you as a host going forward (including currently deactivated hosts who may wish to be reactivated in the future) and update you on how we are developing our service for you.
2023 saw a full return to normal business after a challenging period during COVID. However, the hospitality sector now faces a new set of challenges which impact our international guests. Numerous grants and funds that used to come from the European Union for life science research projects have dried up, which has meant fewer visiting scientists and clinicians to London, particularly for institutions like the Natural History Museum. The tension in the Middle East has also impacted many visiting academics and their ability to study in the UK.
Post COVID, DitH continues to be run with a skeleton team, although we now feel confident to expand our booking capacity. We have weathered the storm largely due to our brilliant web development and digital marketing experts in Bulgaria. It has been quite a challenge. But unlike many small companies in our sector, we had previously invested significantly in our booking platform, leaving us in a robust position and optimistic for the future.
The last year has seen DitH continuing to focus and develop our digital marketing. This has improved our presence online, while continuing to adapt to our target audience expectations via social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. We have recently introduced video and voice over for our digital marketing campaigns which has increased our reach and market penetration for academics worldwide.  
The US-based accommodation platforms continue to dominate the market and indeed have changed the accommodation landscape. The cost-of-living crisis has meant the supply of accommodation has greatly increased, particularly homestays. This has introduced greater variety to select from but also more competition for DitH.
It’s worth stating Airbnb don’t allow properties to be rented out for more than 90 nights per year, while with DitH there are no limits. Furthermore, unlike Airbnb, we do not penalise Hosts for declining a booking and we do not charge a Host Service Fee which is charged by Airbnb, and others to list your property on their platform. This makes us easier to work with.
The likes of Airbnb and are still focused primarily on short term business and tourist accommodation whereas we specialise in medium term lets for professionals looking for affordable solutions of around 1 to 3 months.
DitH continues to operate as a niche player. Always improving where and when we can and delivering a service with a personal human element. This provides an extra level of vetting of guests using the platform and further peace of mind for hosts when considering a guest. This makes us increasingly different to the fully automated hi-tech algorithm and AI driven accommodation platforms focused on business-to-consumer platforms.
With continued inflation and higher costs, our standard homestay rates since the beginning of 2023 have increased (see below for more detail) by approximately 18 - 20%. The current rate/rent to you now was adjusted twice in 2023, with the last increase being set at the beginning of November 2023 for 2024. We believe this is a fair increase in costs (that will be kept under review throughout the year) and still offers competitive and affordable pricing for excellent accommodation in London.
Please remember, we are very happy to update and customise your rate card at any time if you wish to charge more.

What’s new from Doctor in the House?

2024 will be a year of further change and improvement on our existing booking system, which was launched in 2019. We have recently integrated a new payment provider that offers an improved service for credit and debit card payments. This makes the payment experience seamless and smoother for our guests.
Our booking process has also recently been overhauled, making it more efficient when completing a booking. From initial guest enquiry to booking completion and receiving/ making payments. Finally, the next big step will be the simplification of setting up new hosts on our website. Prospective new hosts will still be approved by a member of the DitH team but will be able to self-upload their pictures and copy to their microsites by following the simple onscreen instructions, much like Airbnb. We expect this improvement to grow our platform and reduce the barrier to entry for new hosts.
We cannot express how grateful we are to you, our valued hosts, for your continuing support of DitH in an increasingly competitive market for short term accommodation. There are some mighty big Goliaths out there, and we wholly understand you have a choice to work with them as well as us.
Looking to 2024 and beyond, our target is to keep increasing booking numbers, and finding quality guests for you to host. We very much look forward to working with you over the coming months and years.
If you no longer wish to receive further communications from DitH, or you no longer wish to be listed, please let us know. We can then remove all your details and photos from our system. Naturally, if you want to be reactivated as a host at any time, please let us know and we will be happy to do so.

Important points to remember as a Host, rates, things to do, and TAX update.



We are sure you know from your own experiences that a warm greeting is always appreciated, and we encourage you to make your Guests feel at ease even before their arrival with a friendly welcome email. Many of your Guests will be new to the UK and we know from feedback that they deeply value and appreciate the extra efforts our Hosts go to by being forthcoming and approachable in their initial correspondences, providing directions, little tips, and general household information. It costs very little to make the first move and create a good relationship with a Guest, and if you get it right at the beginning you will avoid any ambiguity and possible misunderstandings between you and your Guests, leaving everybody happy.
If you would like any help from Doctor in the House with your opening email, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will more than happy to help you craft something.


You will by now be aware of our automated acceptance or decline emails. When receiving a booking enquiry please click on one of the options depending on your answer:
Green to accept
Red to decline
Blue if you want to know more. By clicking on Blue opens up a new email that is easy to manage at our end and enables you to ask as many questions as you like.
DitH will send an automated email that must be replied to within 24 – 72 hrs (currently under review), if possible. If we don’t hear from you within a certain time period we will assume you are not interested and we will move on to find another host for the guest. Where and when we can, we will also call to see if you can take a booking, especially if it is a short notice accommodation request. Sadly, today’s Guests seek instant gratification and unless we can confirm accommodation is available almost immediately, they start shopping elsewhere, which means we lose a potential booking.
When you do accept a booking, you can now see full details on your Microsite. Go to the agreement section where you can see your booking details. Furthermore, you can also access a full record of previous bookings. If you are unsure how to do this, contact Mark, he will be delighted to help.
When bookings are confirmed you and your Guest receive a comprehensive email detailed with everything you need to know about the booking.  One recent change to our system is the instruction to your Guest to make contact. This is now written in red statingIt is most important that you contact your Host well in advance of your stay to confirm and arrange your time of arrival. Preferably once you have made your advance payment.
On occasions, Guests appear to miss this essential message, but we keep trying.
As mentioned already, for both short and longer-term bookings, DitH will now be collecting the full fee from your Guest or institution/organisation (if booked by a 3rd party) and will pay you for your accommodation via a bank transfer on the start date of the booking or, if at the weekend or on a holiday, on the nearest business/working day. For longer term bookings of 2 months and more, DitH will continue to make a monthly bank transfer at the start of each month booked.
Very short-term bookings (e.g 1-4 nights) can still be paid in cash by your Guests, though if you prefer to be paid solely by bank transfer, this can be arranged upon request.
Keeping track of you within our booking system
One of the critical aspects of our booking system are your needs and specific requirements. If your circumstances have changed in any way over the past year, please contact Mark to update your records.
Typical changes and useful information might be:
  • Changes to your household, access to the kitchen or bathroom. A new pet or for that matter any animal.
  • Any dates where you are unavailable and do not wish to receive a booking.
  • Preferred type of booking. You may wish to broaden your original brief to get more bookings.
Repeat bookings – When you receive a Guest from DitH your Guest will have agreed to our terms and conditions, which are legally binding. It is important to note that even if they have come to you directly after a previous stay, prices and management fees for Doctor in the House accommodation will still apply. Just let us know and we will create a new booking for you.


Insurance is essential and not a ‘nice to have’. Please make sure you are adequately covered to take paying guests. If you experience any problems, please contact us and we will be delighted to help.


A gas certificate is now a legal requirement when providing accommodation for paying guests. You must have your gas boiler checked annually and obtain a gas certificate. Many of you have provided us with a copy but not all. If you have not already done so, please scan your up to date gas certificate and email it to us at your earliest convenience.



If you have a gas boiler it is a legal requirement to fit Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Please also ensure you install a smoke alarm on each floor, and if you have a solid fuel burner you will also need to install a Carbon Monoxide detector in the nearby vicinity. They are cheap to install but they do need a new battery from time to time unless you wish to install the more expensive type, which last for 10 years.


For Homestays and not flats or bedsits. Could you please offer your Guest a full continental breakfast. That’s tea/coffee, juice, cereal, toast/bread, and fruit and ensure that all products are within their 'sell-by' date. We suggest that you discuss breakfast with your Guest on arrival.  If you go out in the morning to work, could you please leave breakfast in a suitable place and show your Guest what they need to do when preparing breakfast i.e. preparing coffee/tea/toast.
At DitH we still follow HMRC guidelines so if you choose not to provide breakfast, HMRC will technically not consider your earnings to be from B&B and you will not be able to make the most from the new tax break. See below under Tax.

TV, HEATING, and Wi-Fi

In days gone by we had asked for you to provide your Guest room with a TV as this was considered a basic requirement for Homestay (B&B) accommodation. Now the internet has taken over and most Guests will probably now be watching TV on their laptops, or other devices. Therefore, please ensure your Guests have access to hi-speed Wi-Fi. When we promote your accommodation, we state internet access as standard. In today’s world, such a facility is considered as an essential tool for both work and recreation and not a “nice to have”. Furthermore, please try and ensure your broadband connection is fast and not just installed as a token measure.
One re-occurring point made repeatedly by our Guests is heating. Please ensure that your Guest’s room is warm in the morning and the evening, London can be a chilly place for Guests arriving from warmer countries and just because you like plenty of fresh air doesn’t mean your guests will feel the same way. Remember they are paying for a comfortable warm bedroom.


For bookings up to 27 nights and 28 nights + we will continue to work with the new rates set in 2022 (detailed below) with the option to opt for a custom rate card. This means if you wish you can now set your own rate. Please contact Mark if you wish to do so.
We understand that in these unprecedented times that rates need to keep up with the increased costs for accommodating guests, particularly with regards to rising heating/energy costs and other inflationary pressures on overheads.
However, we still ask hosts to be mindful of budgets for the type of guests and institutions that use our platform and their spending limits.  We recommend you stay at our standard rate for Homestay accommodation unless you have previously agreed a bespoke rate.
Our DitH management fixed fees remain the same for 2024 as was set in 2023. We have experienced our own significant increased costs and inflation, and higher cost per sale than the larger major accommodation platforms. However, unlike other accommodation agencies, we do not pass on to you our hosts, the cost for being on our platform and we do not pass on any transaction costs to the guests when they pay by credit/debit cards.
For those of you who have self-contained flats with separate access and some bedsits we still negotiate the fee/rate for each flat independently.
Please remember when DitH is making a booking it will be invariably for single occupancy which is the rate paid by the Guest, even if the room is a double. We do not charge for a double if we only have a single occupant. As a rule of thumb for Homestays, an additional guest, using the same room, is charged at £23.00 per night.
We do include a charge of £35 per night for a child, but as we rarely accommodate guests with children, we will approach this on a case-by-case basis when an accommodation request comes in with a child included.
The recommended rates/rent to you as hosts for a Homestay with Doctor in the House for the start of 2023 were set at:
Single Occupancy
Per night
Double Occupancy
Per night
The current rate/rent to you now for 2024 (as set in November 2023) is:
Single Occupancy
Per night
Double Occupancy
Per night
This reflects an 18% increase in rates/rent per night to hosts since the beginning of 2023 to accommodate inflationary costs over the last year.
Those who have special accommodation and studio/flats will continue to operate with a bespoke/custom rate card.


Doctor in the House collect, in most cases, the full rent upfront for guest stays and then pay you, as hosts, on the start date of the booking, unless a host specifically requests to be paid in cash by the guest in pounds sterling on arrival.
Very short term bookings (e.g 1-4 nights) can still be paid in cash by your Guests, though if you prefer to be paid solely by bank transfer for these shorter bookings we are happy to do this.
In the case of all bookings made by a 3rd party (corporate clients) and/or long-term bookings (over 60 nights), DitH will collect directly from the institution/organisation or guest and will either pay on the start day of the booking by bank transfer or on a monthly basis (see note).


You can now access all of your booking records via your Microsite, which will be helpful if you are asked to make a tax return for HMRC.
A few important points to consider for Homestay accommodation and HMRC rules:
  • You should not expect to accommodate more than six people at the same time.
  • The building must be your own home or if leased it must be stated in your agreement that you can run a Homestay or B&B.
  • The Homestay business must be secondary to the use of the building as a home.

Rent a Room scheme

Many of our Hosts operate under HMRC’s Rent a Room scheme. The Rent a Room scheme is an optional scheme available to owner-occupiers or tenants who let out furnished accommodation to a Guest in their main home. From April 2016 the scheme allows you to earn up to £7,500 tax-free, or £3,250 if you are letting jointly.
If the amount you earn from renting out the room is less than the thresholds of the Rent a Room scheme, then your tax exemption is automatic, and you don’t need to do anything.
If you earn more than the threshold, you must complete a tax return (even if you don’t normally), and you can then do one of the following:
  • Choose to opt into the scheme – in which case you need to let HM Revenue & Customs know this on your tax return and claim your tax-free allowance.
  • Not opt into it – in which case you simply record your income and any associated expenses on the property pages of your tax return.
There’s no special form for telling HM Revenue & Customs that you don’t want to be part of the scheme. If you earn more than the threshold or already complete a tax return, you simply declare the relevant lettings income and expenses when completing your tax return.


At DitH we continue to operate with real people who manage every step, from enquiry through to booking until your Guest leaves your accommodation. We are always there to iron out any wrinkle and ensure you and your Guests are happy. And if things do not go as planned, we are there to support you and ensure any issue is resolved swiftly. We are not a large faceless company, so if you have any concerns, please contact DitH and we will do everything we can to put your mind at rest or resolve any issue you might have.


And finally!

We hope you have found this information to be clear and useful, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We will continue to work hard to develop closer relationships with Hospitals, institutions and other 3rd party organisations in London that use our platform and we anticipate continued positive reaction to our online campaigns and strategies.
Best wishes from the Doctor in the House Team: Mark and Chris
On-boarding team: Tom and Elspeth
Tech and Marketing team: Darina and Deyan (in Bulgaria)