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Risks of Home Exchange

Cover risks

People Travel the World accepts members’ listings on trust. It would be impossible to thoroughly vet each member and at the same time keep the cost of membership at a realistic level. Generally though, it is much safer to have your home occupied while you are away.

Cover risks

Cover risks

The most likely cause for concern is cancellation of a firm agreement. However, if you have arranged adequate insurance and have done all the groundwork before finally agreeing to an exchange, you should have few problems.

Although damage to property can happen, this is rarely a serious problem – having someone in your own home is a great incentive to treat your exchange partner’s home with care. Should any accidents or damage occur, the rule is straightforward enough: whoever caused the damage is responsible its replacement or having it repaired.

The most common problem which can occur is simply a difference in housekeeping standards. It is irritating if you have worked hard to ensure that your own home is clean and tidy before your vacation, only to arrive at a home not nearly as well kept. However, rather than let it spoil your vacation just reflect upon the advantages you will still enjoy even the most modest « lived in » home is sure to provide greater space and comfort than a spotless hotel room.

But having said all that, one overriding factor remains: if you would be so concerned about your home being lived in by strangers that you would not enjoy your vacation, please do not even consider a home exchange vacation.

Exchange Agreement

Exchange Agreement

When you are fully satisfied with all the arrangements agreed with your partners, you may wish to write a short exchange agreement stating the dates of the exchange and listing all decisions taken. Sign it and send two copies to your exchange partner. Ask him to return a signed copy if he is happy with the agreement.

Exchange Agreement

Exchange Agreement

At this stage you have made a binding agreement to go ahead with the exchange. Withdrawal would cause great inconvenience and expense to your partners. Any members known to have broken a firm agreement will be excluded from any future listings.

If you should get an attractive exchange offer after already agreeing to an exchange, why not suggest an exchange at a later date? Just breaking an exchange agreement because a better offer comes along is taboo among home exchangers.

In the case of unavoidable cancellation (death, illness, redundancy in the family), telephone your exchange partner immediately. If at all possible arrange an exchange at another time, or failing that arrange for a friend or neighbor to take your place.


If you are offering to exchange cars or yachts, check that your auto insurance covers your exchange visitor. As with home insurance, auto and yacht insurance is usually in force for thirty days, but this must be checked with your insurance agent. Also, check with your exchange partner whether his insurance will cover you fully for liability and property damage.

When booking your flight, check that your insurance will cover you for cancellation because of illness, etc.

You may also wish to arrange additional insurance cover against your exchange partners canceling for similar reasons.

Special insurance may need to be obtained from your agent for driving or sailing in other countries than your homecountry.

How do you arrange everything for the better

Bills – sort out and agree which bills you and your partner will pay. Many home exchangers find it generally works well to continue paying their own household bills apart from the telephone bill.

If you normally employ domestic help, then you should continue to pay for that service whilst your exchange partners are in residence. However, if the guest exchanger hires someone for the duration of his/her stay, payment is his/her responsibility.

Repair to household appliances – may agree to reimburse your exchange partners for small emergency repairs, but ask them to consult with you before arranging expensive repairs.

Plant care – if your guests agree to water your plants for you, stick to simple requests. Unless you are setting up a long term exchange, plants will survive without fertilizers, foods and supplements until you return.

Yard and garden care – few people want to spend hours of their vacation tending someone else’s yard. This is one instance where the homeowner should definitely arrange for outside yard and pool care so as not the burden the guests.

Insurance – check that your home insurance remains in effect while your guests are there. Normally home insurance is in effect for up to thirty days of guest occupancy. If the proposed exchange will be for longer than thirty days you may have to make some alternative arrangements. Check with your insurance agent.

Contingency Plans

Home Exchange

One of the most critical parts of home exchanging is understanding that once you make a firm commitment, people miles away are counting upon you to honor that arrangement. If they have committed themselves to actually purchasing tickets, then their financial outlay has been considerable and once that point has been reached, it would be reprehensible for you to cancel.

Home Exchange

Home Exchange

When embarking upon setting up a home exchange, it’s always wise to have a contingency plan, ready to be implemented should a genuine crisis occur. Ask neighbors, family members and colleagues if they would be interested in an exchange vacation; research property management companies in your area who might be able to offer a short-term rental.

But most important, before you begin making any contact which could lead to a home exchange vacation, please think very seriously about the commitment you are about to make and if there is even the slightest chance that you may change your mind at the last minute, stop right now. Obviously home exchange is not for you for the time being.

The vast majority of home exchanges usually take place without any problems whatsoever, probably because most people are responsible and realize that they are dealing with homeowners just like themselves and not a tour company.

Should a legitimate emergency arise such as a serious illness or a death in the family, if you have already made contingency plans, implement them immediately, otherwise make every effort to make suitable alternative arrangements for your exchange partners.