3

I think this is the right place - but let me know if it's not and I'll move it.

I've been working as a freelancer/contractor in London for the last 12 months.

My client has a second office outside of London and, occasionally, their employees needs to visit the London office and stay overnight at a hotel (usually a Premier Inn or Travelodge - they get a £150 per night expense limit)

However, as it's such short notice, there are no hotels available nearby.

So, the employee has asked if they're able to stay at mine for the night, and I've asked my client (his boss) if they're able to pay me for putting one of their employees up.

Long story short, they've said I'm not able to bill them for bed and board because of "insurance problems" - is that correct?

Personally, I feel like they're just trying to keep their costs low at my expense... even though there's no real expense to me - he's a friend and I have a spare room. Maybe I'm just being greedy over-sensitive?

  • In the past, as an IT manager, I was a (regular) guest at a co-worker of the same group in his house in Johannesburg, with which I still have good relation terms to this day. He also drove me around, as the city can be dangerous. I helped with buying food, and payed the restaurant bills. After a couple of times, he started billing my firm, as it was much more cheaper and convenient for us that arrangement. It also provided some reliability for both of us, as he started picking me up at the airport instead of the hotels, and it happened a couple of times that hotels "lost" my booking. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 10 '16 at 23:00
  • The payment was made as transference of expenses between our two firms as much I as I am aware, as obviously we were not paying a hotel. Asking for it, and saying they cannot pay is not entirely correct. I would demand at least a token payment, firstly to take a position, second to send a message. Hosting someone also has costs. Spare towels, showering, changing the bed linen and a breakfast and the extra work that goes with it. – Rui F Ribeiro Sep 10 '16 at 23:04
  • 1
    "However, as it's such short notice, there are no hotels available nearby." That's not true. There are always hotels available in London, provided they're willing to pay double or triple for the short notice. – Stephan Branczyk Sep 19 '16 at 16:42
11

I would never allow this under any circumstance.

The guy can sleep in his car... or the bus/train station for all I care.

Even if I charged and he's willing to pay, invading my home is way over the line for any freelance client. It sends a message, whether direct or indirect, that you'll allow the client to overstep the boundaries of a client/freelancer relationship. Business is business... the more you blur the line between business and personal, the more you'll feel "guilty" or "obligated" to help a "friend" rather than saying "no" to a client. Whether or not I have the space is completely irrelevant. It's my home not a bunk house.

In short, it's a slippery slope. No way would any client ever be allowed to stay in my home. -- Okay.... I may charge $5000-$10,000 a night and deal with it if they were willing to pay that.

Regarding insurance..... if this "employee" slips and falls in your home and then wants compensation for medical bills... and he's there for business reasons... what happens to you and your insurance? If you have homeowners insurance and they cover a business stay in your home.

There are just so many, many reasons to never allow this for any client.

Also be aware, there's a marked difference between a "client you are friendly with" and a "friend". I'm friendly with practically every client I've ever had... but I'd never call any of them my "friend". Being friendly in business does not make a client your "friend".

3

I would never do that in general, for three reasons.

  1. If I really want to host a friend (who is really a good friend, not just some coworker) I would do that in name of our friendship, job or no job involved, so I would never ask money to my friend for staying a night at my house.

  2. It will create a pre-existing fact, so that every time the client will need a place to make people sleep and there is no availability, he will ask you to make them sleep at your house!

  3. If anything bad happens while he is at your house, and he claims he was there for work, you will be in big troubles.

Anyway if your friend asked you, at personal level, if he can stay at your house, and you called the client asking for money for that... Well It was not a nice move... with all the respect.

2

It's not really a business decision - even though it may have business consequences.

If the person is someone you normally would let stay for free - then let them stay for free. If not, then politely decline the request regardless of the money offered.

This would clearly keep the arrangement in your private sphere - making it clear to the company that you are doing them a favor. Charging on the other hand, signals that you generally are open to providing lodging.

In addition, if you decide on charging - how much would you charge? A friendly rate? Will you then charge the higher 'complete stranger rate' the next time?

Personally (in a Danish context), I would actually find it weird if I stayed at a good friend's house and they were reimbursed for the inconvenience. You need to find out whether you are doing a favor or offering a service. Not both.

1

I would see this as a favour to the customer, and not charge for it, especially as this person is a friend. It does feel a bit petty. If it was a stranger I would not have offered, and refused if asked. If that is the same for you, then yes, it is petty as this is just a friend staying over. If he claims the expense you cannot really issue him an invoice to cover it.

Is insurance an issue? It might well be. Imagine that he falls down the stairs at your house and you have invoiced for the stay. If it turns out your stairs are not up to standard (ie too big a gap in the railings or similar seemingly petty but essential health and safety standards) imagine if they decide to sue because of an accident that was not his fault, but costs them money, from somewhere that was charging him to stay. If it was a hotel there would be a claim.

In the circumstance you have outlined, I would just let your friend stay as if well might if he was spending the night in London. If he can still claim overnight stay expense without a reciept or paperwork, perhaps he can buy you a meal as a thank you.

Edit: Alternatively, imagine you invoiced for say £100 for the night and got paid. The next week they call you and say "Mr X from so and so is visiting on Tuesday, we would like to book the room again for two nights?" What are you going to say then?

0

Don't do this. If they're not paying, suggest alternatives. AirBNB, hostels, whatever. You didn't create the emergency, and it's not your job to bail them out for free (or they'll be looking for you to do it again).

You're not being over-sensitive, and your spare room doesn't cost imaginary money.

  • It is his friend though, and it was his friend that asked to stay, not the company. And there will be a hotel somewhere he can stay in, just he wants to be close to work. In fairness the entire question really has nothing to do with work. His friend asked to stay, he should say yes. – PaulD Sep 8 '16 at 18:07
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Yes you have the right to charge. You can work around the "insurance problems" by using another wording such as "overtime" or just charge as worktime, in agreement with your customer. If they find another excuse, then you'll know.

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