A few weeks ago we spoke to Carl about his experience on HomeSwapper. To work his way from Lincolnshire to Poole, Carl had to complete a few swaps along the way. In the final MultiSwap that got him there, one of the swappers in the chain had accessibility needs. Carl told us about some of the things that they needed to consider as a chain.
Carl and his family had found the perfect home by the sea, the people who lived there seemed pretty keen on completing a straight swap. It all seemed quite straightforward. However, the lady living in the house Carl wanted to move into had accessibility needs.
CARL: This lady wanted to get out and move from Dorset as soon as possible and she didn’t care if it was Kent, Lincolnshire or Nottingham, basically she wanted to move anywhere. So, we went down to view her house, which to be honest was a mess, but she wanted out and the place was in a perfect location.
We befriended this lady and her family and were talking on the phone a lot and trying all of these different types of MultiSwaps of people who wanted to move to our house.
The stairlift in her house had been condemned and the local authority was not going to replace the stairlift because she was actively looking to move out of the house.
CARL: Due to that, the local authority had listed the house as not being adapted for her disability even though she had one.
For Carl this was a good thing, as most adapted housing and sheltered housing have conditions placed on them around who can live in the property and in order to be able to live there, you have to demonstrate need. For a direct swap, this turned out to be the case.
CARL: At first, we tried for a direct swap because she had kind of given up hope but because she registered disabled and had a stairlift in the house, the house she then had to move into had to be adapted.
Carl’s council turned down the swap because his property wasn’t suitable for someone with extra mobility needs. They offered another solution: the swappers needed to find a person living in an adapted house who wanted to move and was able to swap into a non-adapted house – they would then complete a MultiSwap in this way.
While this might sound like finding a needle in a haystack, Carl was determined to move to Dorset and to help his – now friend – move into a house that suited her needs.
CARL: So, we had to get back on HomeSwapper again to look for people who lived in an adapted house. Eventually we found one that was quite close to where we were. That person came to view our house and I went to do the viewing for the lady in Dorset, because she couldn’t come up herself. I took loads of pictures and videos and sent them to her.
When swaps are happening across the country you may have to be the eyes of other people in your swapping chain. Carl did the viewings taking into consideration her needs and also trying to get the best swap for her. If you end up doing a viewing for another swapper think about all of the information you would like to receive, what details matter to you – be as generous with pictures, videos and descriptions as possible!
It all seemed like plain sailing for Carl and company…
CARL: The paperwork went in, then the other Nottingham property pulled out at the last minute after the inspection. She said, ‘I don’t want to move anymore’ and had changed her mind. This destroyed us, and it was horrible!
But they didn’t dwell too much on the disappointment and were back on HomeSwapper shortly after!
CARL: So we did more viewings. We found a person with an adapted house and a downstairs annex with a wet room. They came to our house, said that our house was lovely. All the paperwork was going through, all the inspections were done and it all hinged on the width of a door (mind the pun!) – whether or not a wheelchair would fit through a side doorway. We had to wait two weeks for the council to measure it and then we got the all clear on the door. The husband of the disabled lady in Dorset came up to Lincolnshire and we all met at the house.
Even if your house isn’t adapted, think about how many stairs you have, how wide your entrances are or how close you are to certain amenities – like a doctor’s surgery or a local shop. This may help someone who has limited mobility but does not have a specific need for an adapted home, to see themselves more comfortably swapping to your home.
Carl changed his strategy for finding a swap to try and make the most out of it for everyone involved.
CARL: It was a real eye-opener to be honest and it shows that disabled people have limited choices. If you want to swap with them, you have to find someone in an adapted house who doesn’t need it – which is difficult, at best. It was a very big minefield with a lot of issues I was never aware of.
You’ll find that you’ll need to work as a community; you may see a property that someone you are connected to hasn’t and that could be the missing link in their chain. Even if it doesn’t help you immediately, it helps build a network and you are looking out for everybody’s interests. It was just a question of persisting, growing a thick skin and expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
The HomeSwapper Customer Support team are always on hand to give advice and tips on how to get the most from HomeSwapper. They deal with Swappers every day and have a unique insight and view on the thousands of successful swaps that take place on HomeSwapper.