We love hearing stories from HomeSwapper users about their home swaps, so we were really excited to talk to Melanie* from London (*not her real name) about her experience a few years ago. Mel used a MultiSwap to find her new home and so we asked if she found it easy to use and why she would recommend giving MultiSwap a go.
Mel, who was living on her own in a flat in central London in 2010, wanted a change of scene. She signed up to HomeSwapper and created her advert, and had quite a few enquiries each day from the beginning, as lots of people were interested in her location.
While she didn’t set out to look for a MultiSwap, she found that “people were reaching out to me because of my location. Sometimes people are looking for a link in their MultiSwap – and they think you are going to be that link.”
So Mel decided to tick the MultiSwap option and was offered a MultiSwap that looked like this: Mel, a single woman living in a two-bedroom flat in central London, moved to a large two-bedroom property in another part of London that had been overcrowded, with four adults living in it. They found a three-bedroom house occupied by a woman and her adult son, who needed to downsize. The last property in the chain was a two-bedroom house with a garden, which had been occupied by a single man who moved into Mel’s flat. Her flat was perfect for him because of its central location and the playground on the estate that his children could use when visiting. Sound complicated? We’ve visualised the chain to show you how it all worked out.
Swapping your social home isn’t always easy and Mel knows only too well it can be even harder when there are more people involved. When you are working on building a MultiSwap, you’re dealing with several people, some of whom may need differing amounts of support or treatment. Mel said, “there is usually one person who appears to be a weaker link.”
In her instance, she told us: “We had all booked our removal vans and then that individual actually sent me a text blowing the swap out. I made a call to their landlord and persuaded them to get in contact and we rescued it. This was incredibly difficult and had to be handled with the utmost sensitivity. I had to recognise the situation from their point of view to attempt to rescue our move, which then did go ahead, right at the last minute. You can’t turn back after you’ve signed the tenancy over, but of course they were the only person who had yet to sign the paperwork.”
Here are some of Mel’s top tips for overcoming problems and building a successful MultiSwap:
When Mel was looking for a MultiSwap one of her strategies was to keep a little book of everybody who had contacted her, recording what they were offering, what they were looking for and their contact details. What she found was even if someone may seem like they might not suit you or your swap chain right now, things might change, or you might hear of another MultiSwap to recommend them for.
Talk to each other
If it’s possible, have meetings with everybody in the chain. “Getting people together makes people trust each other more and then it becomes more of a joint venture.” In London and big cities this is quite easy, but if you’re building a chain across the country, why not try group video calls? This helps everybody to feel like they’re working together as a team.
Always be polite and considerate
The more polite and understanding you are, the smoother the MultiSwap will be. Mel in particular thinks you should “Try not to use language like ‘timewaster’. As nobody thinks of themselves as a timewaster really. You don’t start your day thinking ‘I’m going to be a time waster.’ It’s not something most people would deliberately do.”
Be careful and look after yourself
Before viewings make sure that someone knows where you’re going or invite someone to come with you. Make sure you let the person whose home you’ll be visiting know that there’ll be someone else coming with you though! And the same advice goes for holding viewings at your home; let your neighbours know that someone is coming round or have someone there with you for the viewing. Mel told us, “I have come across some dodgy situations, when I’ve taken a friend with me to a viewing I have told the person I am visiting because it may be quite intimidating for two strangers to turn up at your house if you’re on your own.”
Make it simple for your landlord
When Mel got in contact with her landlord to get the paperwork started, “One of the ladies at the HA gave us the advice to put all of the paperwork for the swap in on the same day. If you’ve got four landlords, it can be a little bit of a minefield.” From the day you put in the paperwork, your landlord legally has 42 days to approve the swap – that’s six weeks. For some that can be “a very long time and that’s when you need to support one another. Talk with the landlords, be patient and realise that it takes time. Don’t blame others in the swap or think that they are messing you about because they may have their own reasons for doing things.”
Mel is so glad that she decided to give MultiSwaps a go – if you have found the perfect home, but your property isn’t suitable for the people living in it, have a good think about whether a MultiSwap might be the way forward. It could be just what you need to help you find your dream home!
Thank you very much, Mel for sharing your story and such good advice with us.
If you’d like more information on building a MultiSwap, just click here.