Tips for Subletting and Home Exchanges

With a few simple steps, rules and preparation, home exchanges and subletting can be a really positive experience. As a renter, housing exchanges can offer you the comforts of being in a home and provide your family with plenty of space and amenities. And as a host, you can even make some money from renting out your home to visitors.

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Related Reading on PSP:

Requirements for Member Posts about Real Estate on the PSP listserv


Subletting and home exchanges:

Tips and experiences PSP members shared about home exchanges and subletting.


Where to start your search:

Here a few websites Park Slope parents have used and recommend: (air b n b also have a very useful manual with clear instructions on how to host:

 the Park Slope Parents Classifieds (if you are wanting to let your place, here are our guidelines)


General Tips:


Provide Information

“As a "host", I leave a ton of information behind to show people how great the neighborhood is and my own recommendations so they can have the best time possible (I have a standard letter I customize for them (especially when they have kids).”


Communicate and Be Up Front

“Leave clear notes, tips and hints about your home, appliances and great things to do in the area.”


Establish Trust

“We felt comfortable with the swap with, basically, strangers because you were in their home while they are in yours. We met prior to travel over Skype and were able to see a bit more of their place. I left them detailed descriptions and suggestions for the neighborhood, including activities to do with their two small children.”

“We were actually exchanging with a family who lived in our old neighborhood in London, so there was also a comfort level in that. I have spoken to others on this list who have done the same and it definitely helps ease some of the nervousness if you are familiar with the situations/area you are entering. That said, when we returned home we started looking for swaps all over the world as it worked out so well.”


Prepare your home

“I clear out several drawers and half of my closet and always get the place professionally cleaned. From my own experience as being a renter, I also try to treat people as I would want to be treated. I provide all the sheets, towels, toilet paper, condiments, etc. one could possibly need so they don’t have to spend a large chunk of time shopping for basics. If they have kids, I leave lots of toys and books out.” 

“Prepare your home as you would like it to be if you were renting it.”

“Lock away any valuables, and important papers, so you don't have to worry about them.”


Establish Agreement Terms, Payment and a Contract

“We have a standard contract we have people sign--they have to provide a down payment to secure the rental and it is only refundable if we can find someone else to rent at the same time. The rest of the payment is usually due 2 weeks before the rental starts. We don't charge a security deposit, but probably should (and most people do).”


Stay Positive

“One has to be comfortable with having someone in your house, using your stuff and that is not for everyone. It is a decent amount of work and I am no longer convinced it is worth it for just a weekend away. For several days or a week away, it is a significant chunk of change and usually results in having an effectively free vacation for us so the work is worth it.”


Be trusting

Remember there is also a lot of trust involved with the family you enter into an agreement with. As one Park Slope parent shared,

“Take on a home exchange with an open mind and heart. You have to trust the people, and if there is a real reason not to, don't do it. I was scared that somehow I would be ripped off, but it was such a great experience, and I met such lovely people, that I can't wait to do it again.