Disgruntled Homestay hosts have criticised a hike in fees to advertise their properties - which will effectively double the cost.

Homestay IoM Ltd was appointed in January this year to operate the Homestay scheme on behalf of the Department for Enterprise on a three-year contract. It took over from MiQuando which had run the scheme for the previous six years.

The scheme was set up to ensure all properties that take in paying guests are safe and legal. Registration is mandatory. Hosts can earn up to £2,350 tax-free by registering their property.

The new operator says hosts are responsible for sourcing their own bookings and has informed them that if they want to advertise on the Homestay website they will now have to pay extra.

When Homestay IoM took over the registration fee remained the same at £60 for one year or £80 for two.

For that price you could also advertise your property on the official Homestay website.

But as from September the price of registration is going up to £65 for one year and £95 for two.

And now if you want to advertise your property on the Homestay site the cost, including registration, will be £120 or £175 for two years.

Those who have already registered have been informed that they need to pay an extra £60 to advertise on the Homestay website.

In addition it will no longer be possible to purchase a one-year registration and then extend it for a second year.

All existing listings that haven’t paid the additional fee will be removed from the website as from September 1.

One disgruntled host told the Examiner: ‘I paid for the 2024-25 season and now have to pay a £60 fee to be allowed to have what I paid for.

‘Not only that, but they are effectively more than doubling the cost for no additional service considering they said that it is now even more hands off for themselves with direct contact between host and interested guests.’

In a letter to hosts, Homestay manager Alex Maitland said the changes to the fee structure were being made to ‘further improve the scheme’ - and insisted that it offered excellent value compared to other platforms like AirBnB.

He said there had been no increase in fees in recent years and the small increase in the charge for registration had been brought in to cover some of the administration costs involved

‘To ensure that all hosts were registered and inspected in time for TT 2024, we continued to run the scheme in a similar way to our predecessors, albeit with a brand-new website which puts hosts in control of their listing,’ he explained.

‘Our new website was a hit with visitors. Since the website was created in February 2024, there has been over 5,000 enquiries sent directly to hosts.

‘We know many of you source your own bookings or have returning guests so simply require the reassurance of your property being legally registered. This is of course mandatory.

‘For 2024 we offered all registered hosts the chance to upload their own full-page listing onto the website, along with an availability calendar, allowing visitors to refine their search.

‘As you will expect running a site such as this carries cost, and so from September 1 anybody wishing to advertise their property on the official Homestay website will need to purchase the marketing and advertising package.’

He added: ‘We understand that any change in fees is significant, and we want to assure you these adjustments are designed to enhance the value and support we provide to our hosts.

‘The updated fees reflect our ongoing efforts to maintain high standards of safety and quality, and provide robust support and marketing. We believe this structure will enable us to better serve you and attract more tourists.’