Similarly, if you are swapping cars, you must make sure your guests are fully covered. Your exchange guests are entitled to assume, unless agreed otherwise, that the car is insured beyond the minimum statutory cover and you should agree specifically who should bear the cost of the excess on the policy. You must check that additional cover for non EU drivers can be provided. You should consider also, if your policy is not protected, whether to take into account the loss of any no claims bonus. Remember that the purpose of exchanging cars is to avoid the expense of hiring, which is the measure against which you should consider all these items. If these things concern you it may be cheaper in the long run to hire.
You should agree with your exchange partner that cars are serviced before the exchange
Cats and dogs moult and carry fleas, which, sometimes, are impossible to eliminate completely. Dogs bark! There is no point in being mealy mouthed about this and they have other habits such as my cat goes hunting and shows off his prowess by bringing birds and animals, both dead and alive, into the house. If you are troubled by these habits you should exchange on a no pets basis, for which there is plenty of opportunity on our site. As a pet owner, however, you must be frank about your pets and generally it is only people who do not understand animals who will mind. On exchange you should agree that your pets will be appropriately dosed for fleas and worms, in accordance with your pets needs and/or veterinary advice, and make sure that the carpets and soft furnishings in the rooms that the pets use are thoroughly hoovered.
Use of computers/internet access
There is increasing demand for providing exchange guests with internet access. Antipodeans in particular prefer keeping in touch with their families by email to being woken up to answer the telephone at night! You should ensure that if you provide internet access you should agree whether or not it is free (eg: broadband) and whether or not your exchange guests should bring their own laptops. Make sure that sensitive information on your computer is secure.
Checklist of other matters
Here is a list of other matters that need to be agreed.
- Instructions for care of pets or plants, as applicable.
- The total number of adults and children staying in the home (including expected visitors).
- Use of car and its maintenance, including insurance provisions.
- Each home owner is usually responsible for the fuel bills of his own home, unless otherwise agreed.
- Beds to be made up on arrival and departure.
- Laundry facilities.
- Settlement of phone calls. We suggest you charge only for international calls made by your guests.
- Emergency repairs costing above £25 to be approved by a telephone call to the home owner. Otherwise the cost should be borne by exchange guests.
- Breakages are the responsibility of the exchange guests.top
Prepare to welcome Guests
Prepare an information pack for your guests. Your local Tourist Information Office should have numerous free leaflets on local attractions.
Write an email setting out all the necessary details, including, for example,
- Instructions of how to get there
- Arrangements for keys
- Details of local facilities
- Milk delivery
- Local shops
- Instructions for waste disposal
- Important contacts such as emergency, doctor’s, vet's and neighbours’ telephone numbers.
Warm and inviting
Prepare your home for your exchange guests as you would for any of your own friends and make sure that your house is clean and ready for their arrival. Remember that you expect the same from your exchange partners.
- A bottle of wine and some flowers provide a special welcome.
- Make up beds and leave some basic foods, for your guests' arrival.
- Make sure that staple food supplies such as sugar, tea, coffee and salt have not run out.
- Leave any necessary instructions regarding appliances and where to locate the central heating/hot water, fuse box and other facilities, if neighbours are not available to show them around your home.
- Leave a list of important numbers next to the phone, including emergency numbers, operator, directory enquiries, doctor or hospital, friends for advice if a problem arises, and babysitters or vets, if applicable.
- Store irreplaceable ornaments and special personal items, if there is worry about breakage. It is not necessary or desirable to remove all ornaments and furniture.
- Provide any special instructions for leaving the house secure.
- Indicate if any parts of the home are off limits or equipment not to be used e.g. a computer.
- Leave information pack available for your guests' use.top
Just before you go...
- Replace basic foods and leave linens as arranged.
- Clean home and leave everything as you found it.
- Leave cash for phone calls and any minor breakage. Leave a note of any incidents or items replaced or broken.
- If you depart early for any reason, make sure that your exchange partners and their neighbours are notified.
- Follow home security procedures prior to leaving, including return of keys.
- A thank you note, and perhaps a small gift as a token of your appreciation, is always a welcome homecoming. top
It is obviously unacceptable to cancel firm arrangements unless there really is a good reason. Inevitably, however, there will be good reasons for cancellations, such as unforeseen illness. If you have no alternative but to cancel you must inform your exchange partner and me, your Organiser, as soon as possible.
Enjoy yourself! top
Your online entry
Your online entry allows you to record a great deal of information about your home and its surroundings. This is intended to save a lot of questions and potential for misunderstanding when you are negotiating an exchange.
Advertising your home
To get the best from your membership it is essential to promote your home and its area, indicating where you are, how best to be reached and what's on offer. The more information you can give, the more it helps other members to decide and the more attractive offers you will obtain.
Our new site provides the facilities to post up to twenty photos, with unlimited descriptive text, under the headings of your home, family, lifestyle and neighbourhood. Some members have posted descriptions in different languages.
You show your holiday dates on the system and they are an important means of allowing members to search for the most convenient times. You should try and be as flexible as possible though obviously, with school holidays for example, this is not always possible.
Under Intervac rules each member is registered in the country of his or her residence and, thus, to register in Great Britain (“GB”) (which for this purpose (only!) includes the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark) you need to have your main home in Britain. As a resident in GB you can list a second or holiday home overseas provided your normal residence is in GB. If you leave Britain and take up residence abroad you need to join Intervac through the Organiser in the respective country. Please note that Northern Ireland is administered by Frank Kelly the Organiser for Ireland.top
As soon as you become a member of Intervac and receive your membership number and password, your entry details will become visible to others, whether members or visitors, on our international web site. This means you can start contacting other members, who can and will start contacting you.
We do not recommend exchanging with members whose membership has expired. As much as anything this is for your protection as we do not think you should exchange with someone who does not consider membership to be important. As part of our terms and conditions we require that all members remain current until their final home exchange is complete.
To contact another member, you login to your entry and send a message. For security we have hidden the email address of all members but when you post a message the system sends an email and, simultaneously posts a message in the member’s inbox. The member can reply either to the email or through the system; in either case the system will show the response in your inbox as well . You will then be in full email contact.
Replies to messages
It is very frustrating if people send out invitations and no response is forthcoming. If you decide that your home is no longer available it is important that you change the traffic lights to say so. When your traffic lights are green, however, it is common consideration for others that you reply to messages of invitation. The system allows you to create standard messages, e.g. for refusal purposes, and you should make use of this facility. You are expected to reply to all your messages and if you have composed a standard polite refusal message this can be very quickly done. You can say something like, “Thank you for your expression of interest in our home but our circumstances are such that we are unable to proceed.” and use it to reply to all those offers that you do not wish to take further. top
Get to know your proposed exchange partner
The more trouble you take to get to know your exchange partner the more likely it is that your exchange will be successful. Try and get things to the point that you have a friend staying in your house and please read all the paragraphs in this section with this in mind.
Try out the system
Many members offer weekend exchanges and the same principles apply as with a longer holiday. Weekend swaps are an excellent introduction to home exchanging.
Describing your home, your family and the local area.
The facilities on the international site allow you to provide photos of the inside and outside of your home, your family and your pets, together with a full description. You need to give a good description of your house, its general decor, the local facilities, your neighbourhood, the transport you use, the access to shops and everything else that people staying would need to know. Remember that people want reassurance before they commit themselves. The best way to provide this information is to post it on your entry and if you do it properly, you only need to do this once. You can see for yourself how much easier it is to decide when there are full details posted.
Once you receive an offer you are happy to accept, you should confirm it by entering into an online exchange agreement. If you do not and decide to rely on an oral agreement you are taking unnecessary risk. Furthermore the system will not give you credit for the exchange. You should ensure that all the points that matter are confirmed, including insurance, both household and where appropriate car insurance, pets and their hygiene, use of computers/internet and the details of the exchange. You should not proceed, however, if your proposed exchange partner is unable to agree on these matters.
Security – home insurance
You should notify your household insurers that you will be having non-paying guests to stay for a specified period. Your home is obviously safer being occupied in your absence, but not all policies provide the same level of cover. Most insurers do not cover you for burglary unless there is evidence of a break in so make a point of agreeing mutually with your exchange partners that you will keep the home secure. It is best not to leave high value movable items such as jewellery, silver or small antiques in the house. (Have you yourself never forgotten to lock the house when you leave it?). No insurer covers persons other than the insured for accidental damage so you must agree that the exchange guest will “own up” as necessary to damage and bear any uninsured cost. top