You may think that you can’t afford a foreign holiday this year due to the increasing cost of living and the squeeze on your finances caused by the recession, but a house swap may be the answer. According to research from Lloyds TSB 1.6 million UK holidaymakers will arrange a house swap this year either in the UK or overseas.
House swapping can be a cheap way of giving you and your family a holiday by swapping your home with someone else’s for a week or more. However you need to make sure you are properly insured if something goes wrong. Lloyds TSB Insurance is urging people to make sure they are properly insured against damage to their belongings and property as it estimates that house swappers could be faced with bills for damage of more than £100 million in 2011. Worryingly almost two thirds of people it surveyed risk not being covered as they fail to notify their house insurance company about their house swap in advance.
Paul Spillane, Head of Home Claims at Lloyds TSB Insurance comments: ‘House-swapping looks set to be the trend of the year - it's easy to see why as this type of holiday caters for so many different tastes. To ensure people make the most of their house-swap holidays, we're urging them to alert their insurers before taking part in an exchange so they don't jeopardise their cover.’
According to the research the most popular destinations in the UK for house swaps are Cornwall, the Lake District and Devon. However house swaps can involve spending your holidays in Spain, Italy, France or even America.
According to Lloyds the number of people house swapping in 2011 will be double the number in 2010. House swapping has been round for years and there are several websites that let you search for suitable properties to swap with in the UK and overseas. You normally need to pay a fee to register and search for a suitable house swap. For example, it costs £35 per year to join guardianhomeexchange.co.uk, £115 to join HomeLink.org.uk per year, and $119.40 per year for HomeExchange.com.
As you are swapping your home with the person whose home you will be staying in, there are no other holiday fees to pay other than transport costs. You can also arrange for the people staying in your home to use your car and vice versa. However you need to be realistic about the sort of property you can swap yours with. Although you probably won’t be able to swap a 1 bed flat with a 4 bed house you never know who may want to stay in your house, especially if you live in a particularly popular area, or have a quirky or unusual property.
Before the swap you should get to know your house swappers by email or phone to try and limit the risk of the swap not going to plan. You both need to know what is expected before handing over the keys and letting strangers into your home. You should lock away any particularly valuable or fragile items just in case. You will also need to make sure you allow enough space for your visitors’ belongings and leave your house clean and tidy with details of important things your visitors need to know about your house, for example, details of how the heating works, names and contact numbers of your neighbours and any other useful phone numbers or information. If you rent your property you should check with your landlord if a house swap is possible.
Get a quote now and make sure you are getting the most from your house insurance.