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Providing Accommodation For Your Au Pair

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 6 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
Providing Accommodation For Your Au Pair

When a host family considers inviting an au pair to stay, they are responsible for providing them with appropriate accommodation. This can take a number of forms, but the Home Office stipulate that an au pair must be provided with her own room.

By following the tips and advice below, you will ensure that your au pair is happy and comfortable!

Basic Standard of Acceptable Accommodation

There are guidelines in place that state an au pair should have a bed, a desk (or somewhere to study), a chair and storage space. Additional ‘norms’ are usually a CD/DVD player (or equivalent entertainment system), T. V. and radio – although it is accepted that some families may not be able to provide these extra items.

It is also very important to understand that It’s not deemed acceptable for au pairs to share their bedroom space in any way – either by a child of the family sharing the room in some capacity, or by any of the family members having access unless by invitation.

En Suite Rooms

If you are able to provide your au pair with an en-suite room or a bathroom which only the children or occasional guests might share, your choice of interested applicants will be naturally a little higher, but many families cannot stretch to this, so don’t worry too much.

Separate Accommodation

Some families are able to provide accommodation which is a little separate from the family home. Perhaps it is a converted room over a separate garage, or a flat which is adjoined to the main house.

For some au pairs, this is ideal whilst for others, it seems as if they are not ‘part’ of the family but rather put in the ‘servant’ quarters.

Be clear about what you are offering and ask the au pair how they feel about the living arrangements before making a commitment. You will tend to find that the older, more mature au pairs, who have had some experience with another family or who have lived away from home before, love to have the independence and privacy of their own little ‘flat’, whilst those who are first-time au pairs, or who really want to experience the typical lifestyle of an ‘average’ British family, are likely to opt for a room within the house.

Although rare, it can also happen that some families offer accommodation which is a short walk away from the house. This kind of situation does not strictly fall within the remit of an au pair living as part of the family, and if this is the case (and you find an au pair who will accept the conditions), then you must ensure it is adequately secure and adheres to safety regulations such as fire, burglar alarms etc. You must also be very certain that the au pair is aware of the situation before they accept the position.

Be Clear about the Accommodation you are Offering

As stated above, try to be as clear as possible about the accommodation you are offering - and be sure to provide pictures.

If you are using an agent, they will be able to promote your family far more effectively if they are able to offer applicants a range of good photos which show your home at its best and as a result you are far more likely to have more au pairs to choose from.

Also, most au pairs wish to see the place which could be their home for the next few months – so if you are communicating with the au pair directly, make sure you send an image of what she might expect.

Preparing the Room

Remember to take time to properly prepare for your au pair’s arrival. If the room he/she will be having has been used to store spare clothes, furniture, suitcases etc make sure you remove it all before she comes.

Provide enough fresh towels and linen and remember to change them along with the rest of your household.

Fix up a bedside light, put in a chair and desk, if you can, and if you are able to provide anything extra such as a radio, CD, DVD player or TV, that is all a bonus. It is now also very common that au pairs specifically choose families who have Internet connection as many like to bring their own lap-top and stay in touch with home this way.

If the room is colder than the rest of the house, provide a small heater or extra duvet and of course enough hanging and storage space for clothes!

Finally, remember to ask if she is comfortable and whether there is anything else she needs. You are not running a hotel, but this is not only common politeness, it can iron out any potential problems later on.

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