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Renting For Members

Am I allowed to house swap if I'm a tenant in Spain?

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
Am I allowed to house swap if I'm a tenant in Spain?
Can I house swap in Spain if I rent? Photo: Toa Heftiba / Unsplash

House swapping can be a great way to save money when you go on holiday. It allows you to have all the comforts of home and swap with others who have a similar-sized property to you, but can you still do this if you rent?

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Not only can house swapping help you save money when you travel, but it can also allow you to have facilities you wouldn't normally have at hotels such as kitchens, board games or even bicycles to use.

It can great for families to swap with other families as you can be safe in the knowledge that the house should already be child-friendly and safe and have all the necessary items you might need for a baby or toddler, such as cots and high chairs. Kids will love it too as it means they get to have child-friendly rooms and new toys to play with.

You can specify the types of guests you want such as non-smokers and can even choose to swap your cars too, so you’ll know that you won’t have to rent one when you arrive at your destination.

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In Spain leaving your house empty when you go away can also put it at risk of robberies or squatters and so many people believe that it’s safer to have someone occupying it when they’re gone.

READ ALSO - Okupas: What's the law on squatting in Spain?

There are many different house-swapping platforms online and of course, it’s very easy to organise if you own your own home, but what are the rules on home exchanges if you rent? Is it legal and what are the steps you need to take?

Antonino Joya, communication director of Spain’s Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) warns that you must first remember that "both the exchange of addresses and the rental between individuals are activities that are not protected by Spanish consumer laws. They are mere exchanges between individuals”.

This means that there are no guarantees when you house swap and you’re not protected by Spanish law, so it’s worth keeping that in mind if you’re trying to and do an exchange with a property that’s not even your own.

READ ALSO: Is subletting legal in Spain?

But, Gerald Gómez, representative in Spain of home swapping website Homelink International explains “since the habitual residence of each one is at stake, everyone has the utmost interest in treating the home of others well”.  

The profile of those who exchange homes for holidays is a person who likes to travel, who has already swapped their house on more than one occasion, and who tends to trust the people with whom they exchange. "If someone feels insecure, it is better that they not take part in house swaps, because they are going to have some very bad days," Gómez adds.

READ ALSO: What’s the law on getting my deposit back from my landlord in Spain?

This is fine when you’re choosing to trust someone to look after your own house, but when it’s not even yours, it’s a very different story.

The first step in finding out if it’s possible or not is to look through your rental contract to make sure there aren’t any clauses that prohibit this type of exchange.

Secondly and most importantly, even if there’s nothing mentioned in your contract, you must get your landlord’s permission before you even think about registering your property on a house-swapping site or inviting people to do it.

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Landlords have the right to know who will be living in their property and for how long. Some landlords may be happy with the prospect and agree as they would prefer the house not remain empty while you travel.

However, not all landlords will feel this way and they would be completely within their rights if they refuse to let you do this. As mentioned above, there a no legal guarantees with home swaps, so your landlord could be worried about any potential damage to their property or even someone refusing to leave and becoming a squatter themselves.

Another reason your landlord could refuse is down to their insurance policy. They will likely have specialised renter’s home insurance which covers their property when a tenant is living there, but their home may not be covered if a third party is living there temporarily. They may have to contact their insurance company to see if home swapping is even possible if they want their insurance to still be valid.

How can I protect my home when I do house swaps?

If you do get permission from your landlord, there are still several safety measures you need to keep in mind when swapping the place you rent.

  • It’s important to house swap through some type of recognised online platform, that way you can see reviews of the people you’re swapping with to see if any problems have arisen in the past. Some examples are HomeExchange and LoveHomeSwap

  • Some sites may even have online contracts between the two parties laying out all the rules so you can protect yourself and your landlord's home better.

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  • Ask for some type of deposit. Even though you are swapping homes without the exchange of money, it’s important to ask for some type of deposit in case of damages. Yes, you will be living in their house too, but you may not know about any potential damages until you leave and arrive back home.

  • Find out as much as you can about the people you are going to be swapping with. Maybe ask for some ID or a copy of their passport, so that you have some details should anything go wrong.

If you stick to all the above and get permission from your landlord and make sure the insurance is still valid, there’s no reason why you can’t make the most of home swapping and enjoy a much more comfortable and cheaper holiday.

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