Here you can find content specifically designed for your email newsletters to tenants. We’ve put together a series of short snippets and longer articles ready to drop into your tenant newsletters – we hope the latest updates, top tips and useful advice will help your tenants to get the very best out of HomeSwapper. The short snippets and the testimonials are also ideal for posting on social media. We add content monthly so you will always have something new to share.
Simply copy the snippets below and paste them into your newsletter
Local councils are responsible for providing a variety of services in the areas they manage. Ever wondered what they take care of? The HomeSwapper team have taken a look at what local councils do for the different countries that make up the UK.
There are four different types of local authority in England: unitary authorities, county councils, district councils and town and parish councils. They are in charge of many of the services you use each day. To find out what these local authorities do and who your local authority is, click here.
The Welsh Local Government Association represents local councils, the Fire and Rescue authority and the National Park authorities. In Wales there are 22 local councils which provide all local services. There are also 735 Community Councils that deliver very local services, such as village halls, playing fields and allotments. Find your Welsh local authority here.
Local councils in Scotland have to manage the delivery of services and protection of environments across different jurisdictions for a population of 5.4 million people. There are 32 local authorities in Scotland, responsible for providing a range of public services. Find out what they do and who your local authority is here.
In Northern Ireland there are 11 councils run by elected councillors. In 2015, reforms meant that planning power was given to these local councils. Community Planning Partnerships have been set up which involve citizens, the voluntary sector, statutory bodies and agencies, to build a vision for the future of a council’s local development. Find out more here.
Remember Carl? The HomeSwapper team spoke with him about the unusual steps he took to get to his dream home. Here he gives us advice on how to prepare your home for the kind of pictures that will get you noticed on HomeSwapper.
“We put the house all in neutral colours; it was decorated to make it look as pretty as possible.”
It’s not just about a clean, minimal look. The more neutral the colours in the room, the bigger the room will look.
“For photographs, we cleared out everything that wasn’t attached, and just left the furniture in the room. We made it look as nice as possible and we got tips off the internet of how to take perfect pictures of the rooms.”
The HomeSwapper team have written an article on how to take the perfect picture here.
“Things to consider vary from what height you take the pictures from, to what angles would be best and even the time of day that it was best to take the pictures. The best advice we found was wait until just before dusk and turn the lights on in the house. So, you’d clear one room, make it absolutely perfect, then take the pictures and move everything back in.”
“The pictures were everything at the end of the day. The first thing people do is scroll through the pictures and see what the house is like. So, make it as perfect as possible.”
Have a read of the full article here
Tenant scrutiny panels
Do you know what a Tenant Scrutiny Panel is? The HomeSwapper team have been looking into them and have put together some information on what they are. Scrutiny panels are groups led by tenants that point out areas to investigate that matter to them, such as repairs, anti-social behaviour or debt advice. The outcomes from the findings are reported back to our leadership and board members and could make a difference to our decision-making!
As the residents, you are the most able to understand what is working and what isn’t. Joining a scrutiny panel is a way for you to improve your housing environment, or work on behalf of your community.
Have a read here for more details
Remember Carl? The HomeSwapper team spoke with him about the unusual steps he took to get to his dream home. Here he explains about his final MultiSwap. One of the swappers in the chain had accessibility needs and Carl told the HomeSwapper team about some of the things that they needed to consider as a chain.
“We had to get back on HomeSwapper again to look for people who lived in an adapted house. 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.”
Remember, 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 this lady’s needs and also trying to get the best swap for her.
Unfortunately, this swap didn’t work out, so they had to get back on HomeSwapper:
“We found a person with an adapted house and a downstairs annex with a wet room. All the paperwork was going through, all the inspections were done and it all hinged on the width of a door – whether or not a wheelchair would fit through a side doorway.”
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. This may help someone who has limited mobility but does not have a specific need for an adapted home.
“It was a real eye-opener to be honest and it shows that disabled people have limited choices. 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.”
Sometimes in life, to achieve your goals you may have to take some unexpected steps – and this counts for HomeSwapper as well! The team at HomeSwapper spoke with a swapper, Carl who had recently completed his mutual exchange from a small village in Lincolnshire to Dorset. He did it in quite an unusual way, completing a few different swaps in order to achieve his goal. Here, Carl explains:
“We opened up our HomeSwapper profile saying we were happy to move to Nottingham. A lady from Nottingham messaged us and basically said, “If your house really looks like how it looks in the pictures then I’m happy to do a swap.” We then put the papers in, had the inspections done and we were moved within 5 weeks!
“We stayed in Nottingham for 18 months. We redecorated our house in Nottingham on a budget, but made it look desirable. We were on HomeSwapper every night for a few hours contacting everybody who was wanting to move up here and everybody who was trying to move out of Dorset. From there we worked backwards to work out where they wanted to move to and contacted people in those areas to see whether they wanted to move to our place to do a MultiSwap.”
Then Carl and his family found a couple in Dorset who wanted to move…
“When we found a place, the swappers from Dorset came up to Lincolnshire and we all met at the house. Everybody said it was all good. The mutual exchange had been done. We all exchanged keys there, then two weeks later we moved down to Dorset from Nottingham.
“All in all, it probably took about four years. Which sounds shocking, but you had to work at it and we worked hard to do everything possible. Absolutely living the dream now, we’re right by the coast and five minutes away from the sea. It’s a beautiful day, the neighbours are perfect, the town is gorgeous and everybody is so friendly it’s unbelievable.”
Registering to vote is a good idea, as it not only gives you a say in elections, but improves your credit score, as well as being a great proof of address and identity. To get you started, the team at HomeSwapper have put together a guide on signing up…
You can sign up any time and if you stay living in the same property, you only need to do it once. Remember though, every time you move house, or if you change your name, you’ll need to do it again.
To sign up, you’ll need your National Insurance number, which you can find on pay slips, benefits letters, or your National Insurance card. Registering only takes a few minutes and there are a couple of ways you can do it:
- You can go to the government’s website and follow the simple steps here
- Or you can register by post by printing the forms available here
If you’re not sure if you’ve already signed up for the Electoral Register in the past and would like to check, just click the link here.
The costs of childcare can eat up a big chunk of the family budget. The team at HomeSwapper have taken a look at the financial support you can access to give you a helping hand.
If you’re a working parent with children under 12 (or under 17 for disabled children), you can open an online account to pay for registered childcare. The government will top-up the money you pay into the account, so for every £8 you pay in, the government will add an extra £2. Click here to get started.
15 hours free childcare
If you’re on Universal Credit or benefits, living in England and your child is 2 years old, you can get 15 hours of free childcare each week for 38 weeks.
If your child is 3-4 years old, you can receive this and there are no restrictions around who can apply.
30 hours free childcare
If your child is 3-4 years old and you’re living in England, you could access 30 hours of free childcare each week for 38 weeks. Apply here for a September start.
Universal Credit for childcare
If you’re claiming Universal Credit and have children under 17, you can claim 85% of eligible childcare costs, up to a cap. Use this calculator to see what you could get.
Support while you study
Take a look at the following options:
If you’ve got a spare room, you may be affected by ‘Bedroom Tax’. Getting a lodger in could be a great way of solving this – and you’ll even make some extra income in the process.
The HomeSwapper team have put together a guide on everything you need to know:
The Rent-A-Room Scheme allows tenants to earn up to £7,500 tax free by renting out an empty room in their house. It’s very important to note that you have to be living in your home full-time. No social housing tenant is allowed to sublet their entire property.
First, contact us to be certain what our rules are around renting out your spare room.
If you are on Housing Benefit
The first £20 of income that you get from your lodger won’t be counted as income and will not affect your Housing Benefit. Anything above this will count as income.
If you are on Universal Credit, check with us first
Any rent you get from a lodger up to the tax-free allowance of £7,500 with the Rent-a-Room Scheme, won’t be counted as income and won’t affect your Universal Credit payments.
Make sure the person you choose is the right person
Be safe – meet up with the person a few times if they are a stranger and get to know them – especially if you are living with your children.
To find out more about The Rent-A-Room scheme here is a help sheet from UK.GOV.
Would you like to find out more about MultiSwaps?
If you’re using HomeSwapper to look for a new home, MultiSwaps are a great way to open up more swapping options. By creating a chain of swaps, you can look for a home that meets your needs and the person in that property can move into the home of someone else.
Read more here:
If you want to make sure you’ve giving yourself the best chance of a swap, the team at HomeSwapper have this advice for you:
- Firstly, and most importantly, have you added good quality, recent photos of your home?
- Is the description of your home detailed, with as much information as possible about the features it offers?
- Have you included practical advice – for example, roughly how much the household bills cost each month, any restrictions on keeping pets, landlord responsibilities?
- Have you included a review of the local area and the benefits it has to offer?
- Have you been as realistic and honest as possible?
- Finally, have you shared your advert on the HomeSwapper Facebook page? https://www.facebook.com/HomeSwapperOfficial/
Are you getting the best out of HomeSwapper? Check your match filters to make sure.
If you’re using HomeSwapper and want to know more about match filters and different search options, here’s a guide to make sure you’re getting the most out of the matching system. You can access your matches on the left of your Dashboard through the option ‘My Matches’, or from any page of the site through the menu bar by clicking ‘Matches’ and then ‘Find a match’.
On the Find a match page, you can choose to view the matches as a list, or alternatively on a map. You’ll also be able to sort the results by distance, rent, highest percentage match, most recently logged on and the newest or oldest properties on the site. Just remember to click on the purple Update button each time you change anything on this page!
There are four different types of match filter you can set here, so we’ll take you through each one in order:
- Matches: this is the most used tab of all and shows homes you want, and swappers that want a home like yours.
- MultiSwaps: this option shows homes which you might be able to move into via a chain of swaps. If you see a home you like in this search, the system can help you build a chain of swaps to make this work.
- All homes: this tab is a more general search that matches what you are looking for only, not what other swappers are looking for. This will show you a lot more homes than you would see on the other tabs, like Matches. Just be aware though, that these swappers will not necessarily be looking for your type of property or area.
- Looking for a home like yours: this tab has the opposite function to the All homes tab and instead, brings all the people who are searching for yourtype of home into one place. You can then look at their homes to see if any are suitable for you.
And there you have it! A simple guide to HomeSwapper match filters… happy home hunting!
Are you getting the best out of HomeSwapper? Check your match filters to make sure.
If you’re using HomeSwapper and want to know more about match filters and different search options, the HomeSwapper team have put together a guide to make sure you’re getting the most out of the matching system.
Read the full article here:
The HomeSwapper team have made some change to the way Messages work, to make sure that all swappers are active users of the service. If you log in and see a message that says “You have recent messages you have not replied to. You cannot contact other swappers until this has been done” you simply need to make sure you have replied to all messages in your inbox that you have received in the last 3 months. You can easily see any messages you need to reply to as they will be highlighted in red.
If you haven’t used HomeSwapper in a while, you may also need to click the “load earlier conversations” link to check if there are any older messages you need to reply to, or restore deleted messages and check those. Remember – you only need to reply to messages up to and including those from 3 months ago.
These changes have been applied to every HomeSwapper account and as a result, there has been an immediate increase in the number of messages replied to. Good news for everyone looking for a swap!
As some of you may have noticed, the HomeSwapper team have changed the way that Street View works on HomeSwapper (this was due to Google updates). It now works like this:
By clicking on “Go to Street View location”, you’ll be taken into a new internet window, where you’ll be able to see a full view of the street. Don’t worry about opening a second window away from the HomeSwapper site; this is meant to happen.
The view might not show the exact address but the local area around the home but you can navigate your cursor to take a look around.
If you’re looking for a home swap through HomeSwapper, social media is a great tool for reaching as many people as possible in a short space of time. People tend to check in on their social media at least once a day, so if you want your voice to be heard, this is one way of reaching other swappers.
The HomeSwapper Facebook page is followed by over 40,000 people, so there is really nowhere better for you to be shouting about your home!
Through your HomeSwapper account you have the option to share your advert directly to our Facebook page for other swappers to see. Just follow these simple steps:
- Log into your account to access your dashboard
- Scroll to the bottom of the screen where you’ll see a dark blue button that reads ‘Share this’ with the Facebook icon
- Click on this and share your advert to Facebook
Please remember though – never openly put up your full address or contact details on social media and use the direct message function on Facebook if you want to share details.
We wish you the best of luck with your swap on HomeSwapper!
Are you using HomeSwapper and looking for a perfect new home? The HomeSwapper team have put together some tips on what to consider when viewing other people’s homes. What are the most important factors and what do you reallyhave to think about?
- How much are you paying?
Make sure you check the full rental amount of the property beforeyou agree to a viewing. Remember that this can be different to the amount the current tenant pays, as they may receive housing benefit as a ‘top up’. It is well worth asking the question before viewing a property, as we’d hate to see you disappointed further down the line!
- What is the tenancy type?
Checking the type of tenancy you will hold with your new landlord is extremely important. A different tenancy type means that you may lose your ‘Right to Buy’ or may not have the ‘Right to Acquire’ with this new property, so it’s worth checking this ahead.
- Is it in good condition?
Remember that you’re accepting the property ‘as seen’ – so give it a good look over! Are there signs of damp, flaking paint or infestations of any kind? Do repairs need to be carried out? Are there any broken items of furniture that will be staying? Is there central heating? Do all the radiators function properly? Is it properly insulated? Is there double glazing? Is there enough storage space for your belongings? All of these are important things to look out for during any viewing.
- What’s around?
Location, location, location – for some this is almost as important as the home itself. Make sure you visit at different times of the day, evening and at the weekend so you can get a good feel for the area. You should also make sure you look into the local transport – is there parking? Are you close enough to public transport? And finally: amenities – where’s the nearest supermarket? What are the local schools like? All of these day-to-day things can make or break a home – so work out what is really important to you and make sure it’s there!
- Who’s around?
A great neighbour is almost priceless but a bad neighbour can ruin your experience of a new home… so what are the neighbours like? Are there any disputes? Visiting a potential home several times can help you assess the situation and make a decision.
If you’re thinking about mutual exchange or are already using HomeSwapper, make sure you check out the HomeSwapper blog page. It’s packed with articles containing really useful help and advice on all aspects of finding a home swap – everything from how best to advertise your home to how to increase your chances of finding the perfect home to swap into.
You’ll find all the articles here.
The HomeSwapper Matches app – Have you downloaded it yet?
The team over at HomeSwapper has been working hard on making sure that their app gives swappers like you the best chance of finding their match.
It could be just the thing to simplify your search for the perfect home – and it’s free! The HomeSwapper Matches app brings together your matches and messages into one central place, meaning that you can contact potential swappers while on the go.
With the HomeSwapper Matches app you can also:
- Quickly swipe through and manage your matches
- See more details about homes you might like, including features, location, property type, rent and additional notes from the current tenant
- Chat in real time with other swappers
- See who’s online right now and when they last got in touch with you
- See who’s serious about swapping by looking at their badges
- Easily upload and manage photos of your home
- Send prompts to other swappers if they don’t have photos on their profile
- Like and share homes with other swappers
- See who’s liked your home
- Receive instant push notifications when you have new matches and messages
The Amenities function is one of the latest additions from HomeSwapper, where they’ve made it easier to get an idea of what’s around the homes you’re interested in. You can now check which parks, schools, hospitals, transport links, bars and restaurants etc. are nearby.
As well as this, you are also now able to look at all homes, not just direct matches, thanks to the addition of Find a Match and SimpleSearch.
HomeSwapper Matches is available from both the App Store and Google Play. So if you haven’t already started using the app, we recommend you download it now for free and start searching!
The HomeSwapper Matches app – Have you downloaded it yet?
The team over at HomeSwapper has been working hard on making sure that their app gives swappers like you the best chance of finding a match.
It could be just the thing to simplify your search for the perfect home – and it’s free! The HomeSwapper Matches app brings together your matches and messages, meaning that you can contact potential swappers while on the go.
HomeSwapper Matches is available from both the App Store and Google Play. So if you haven’t already started using the app, we recommend you download it now and start searching!
Your advert is the first impression a potential swapper will have of your home, so it’s important that you make it great! The property description in the ‘additional information from tenant’ section on your advert is where you’ll have the chance to explain why somebody would want to swap tenancies with you.
Before you get started, have a think about the different features your property offers. Build a list of the most important things to know about your property in a bullet point format; this includes things like how many rooms there are, what kind of storage spaces you have, what kind of condition the home is in and useful things to know.
We’ve listed some helpful examples below to get you thinking:
1. What kind of property is it; mid-century flat, new build house, Victorian terrace?
2. How many bathrooms do you have? Are any of them en suite?
3. Do the bedrooms have built-in storage?
4. How recently was it decorated? When was the kitchen refitted?
5. What repairs and upkeep are the landlord’s responsibility and what are yours?
6. What is the parking situation; do you have an off-road space or do residents need a permit?
7. The approximate cost of bills per month.
8. How many stairs does the property have? What floor is it on? Would it be suitable for a wheelchair user or a parent with a buggy?
9. Is your housing association or landlord pet-friendly?
10. What outside space do you have available; garden, balcony, shared garden or walkway?
11. What cooking facilities are there; gas or electric oven?
12. Does the property have double-glazing?
Now that you’ve got your list together, you can get writing. You should describe the things that you love about your home and what is attractive about your neighbourhood.
It is also important to be clear about what isn’t perfect about your property. For example: ‘the large windows let in a lot of natural light but it can be cold in the winter’ or ‘the neighbouring road has heavy traffic.’ It’s always better to be honest up front and avoid disappointment later.
However, remember this, swappers: always start with the positive!
• The open plan living area means you can socialise when you’re cooking
• There is a power shower and large bath
• Tiling in the entrance way and kitchen are easy to clean
• This is a friendly neighbourhood; ‘Chestnut Park’ has a playground, skate-park and a café that holds mother and baby sessions once a week
• There is a huge 24-hour supermarket 10 minutes bus ride away, there is also a local store selling essentials around the corner
• The neighbourhood is friendly, most people will stop and have a chat
Most importantly, think about what you like to read the most when you are hunting for a swap. Include those and you are sure to write a good description!a
Today we’re looking at how best to interact with other swappers on HomeSwapper and how to get the most out of this communication. Keep the tips below in mind and good luck with your search!
* Look out for badges
A badge on another swapper’s profile usually means that they are serious about moving house and interacting with other swappers. HomeSwapper’s bronze, silver, gold and platinum reply badges help you to quickly build up a picture of other swappers. Prioritising these swappers in your search is a good idea, as the badges show that they are more likely to reply to your messages, meaning less frustration all round!
* Get the full picture
Before you say yes to viewing a property, make sure that you have all the information that will help you decide if this is a realistic swap. If it’s not clear from their advert on HomeSwapper, then just ask the other swapper, who should be happy to answer any questions you have. Remember, it’s in their best interests as well to be honest now, rather than having the swap fall through at a later stage! Make sure you know what’s included in the swap, i.e. furniture, white goods etc; what the tenancy type is; what the full rent is; and any tenancy requirements. Finally, make sure that you check that the current tenant has permission to make any changes to the property Ð if they haven’t, this could be a reason for other landlords to refuse a swap!
* Be nice!
Manners never cost a thing which is certainly worth remembering when you’re trying to swap homes with another person. HomeSwapper tell us that there are some fairly rude responses from a minority of swappers, which are both unfair and unnecessary. Remember, you’re talking to another person who may be hurt by your comments Ð and if you’re not interested in their home, a simple ‘no, thank you’ works well! And if you receive unpleasant messages, you can find a button allowing you to block another user within the Messages section of your HomeSwapper account.
* If you’re not sure of what to say
Within your Messages section on HomeSwapper there is a function that gives you ideas of what to say to swappers you want to message. So, if you just don’t know how to get that conversation started, click on the link, ‘See message suggestions’, choose what you want to say and get chatting!
* Be certain about your swap
Anyone on a swapping site will have read stories about ‘timewasters’ and here, HomeSwapper’s advice is simple: don’t make any changes to your life until your swap has been approved and you’ve signed the paperwork. Swaps can fall through for any number of reasons and the last thing we want to see is any unnecessary disruption to your life. We know it’s hard to wait when you’re excited about the big move, but always make sure that you’re certain you’re really moving before you make those changes.
Search is such an important part of finding your new home – not making the most of the search function on HomeSwapper can be the biggest reason for a lack of matches. Check if you’re taking these simple steps as they can make all the difference!
Check areas with the amenities you need
When searching for homes, it might help to widen your search area a little. A home you could love may be just a little further away from areas you normally search in. Why not research other locations? Think of what is important to you – do you need good local schools? A quiet area with parks and playgrounds? Or is your priority being close to public transport? You can use our Amenities function to check all of this, broadening your search areas and therefore, finding more homes suited to your needs.
Filter out inactive users
We hate to see you disappointed when other swappers don’t reply to your messages. One way to try and avoid this is by filtering your search results by the time since other users’ last login. Whilst this won’t guarantee that all swappers will respond to you, it will help to ensure that you are at least seeing the homes of swappers who are active on our site. Look out for the reply badges too, which will help you to see how good swappers are at replying to messages.
Check the tenancy type
Checking the tenancy type of the home you want to swap into, as well as knowing your own is very important. When you swap homes, your tenancy type doesn’t move with you, so make checking this one of your priorities, as it can affect things in the future, like right to buy. Make sure you’re searching for the right tenancy type in the search function!
Know the eligibility requirements
Some homes have eligibility rules in place that you must meet in order to move in. Sometimes, these don’t come up until late in the process and as a result of that, we’ve seen swappers be really disappointed. Early in the process it’s a good idea to check if there are any restrictions around elements such as: age, mobility, the need for a local connection, or specific job requirements. It is possible to filter by these requirements, but if it’s not clear on the other swapper’s advert, just ask!
Remember – no home will tick all of your boxes
Many swappers are searching for a ‘dream home’ that ticks all their boxes. Whilst this can happen, the realistic chances of finding perfection will reduce your options a lot. When viewing other users’ adverts, think about what you need rather than what you want – what are your biggest priorities? Most of all, keep in mind a property’s potential! Once you’ve put your mark on it, you might just find that it is in fact that dream home you were searching for.