A mutual exchange involves two tenants swapping properties with one another, it is an alternative way to getting a move and often quicker than waiting for a transfer. When you swap properties you also swap tenancies. An exchange can take place between any housing association or council tenants with a secure, assured or fixed term tenancy. You cannot exchange with a tenant of a private landlord or if you have a starter tenancy.
Finding someone to swap with
Women’s Pioneer run their own Mutual Exchange scheme. We have a board in reception displaying cards with property details of tenants who want to swap. You can view our current listings online by clicking below:
If you would like to advertise your property, and list what you are looking for in an exchange, you can download a form here, have one posted to you, or pick up one from reception.
You will see a larger pool of properties available through Homeswapper which helps 17,000 tenants swap each year. Women’s Pioneer is a partner with Homeswapper so there is no fee for you to join. Simply visit www.HomeSwapper.co.uk to register.
Some councils, such as Kensington & Chelsea, operate their own mutual exchange scheme. You can access this online here: http://rbkc.gov.uk/housing/mutualexchange/. You can also search on your local authority’s website to see if they have their own scheme.
Please note that as Women’s Pioneer is a housing association for women, we will not approve a swap with a male tenant or couple who want a joint tenancy.
What happens next when you’ve found someone to swap with?
If you find another tenant to swap with, you will need to arrange a property viewing between you, in fact most of the process of a Mutual Exchange is led by you.
Once you are both happy with each other’s property and wish to swap you need to ask permission from your respective landlords to exchange. You can do this by calling your Housing Officer who will send you a short form to complete.
Landlords then have 42 days from the date they receive your application to make a decision. They will need to check some details before agreeing to the exchange, including:
- The size and type of property you wish to move to (i.e. that the property you want to swap with is not too big or too small for your requirements.)
- The household size of the family you want to swap with (i.e. that the incoming household won’t over or under occupy the property)That your rent account is clear and there is no possession order on your home.
- The condition of your home.
- Any history of Anti-Social Behaviour.
If all checks are satisfactory and both landlords approve the exchange, they will write to you to say so. A condition of approval can be that all arrears must be cleared before the exchange takes place. If the exchange is not approved, the reasons for that decision will be given.
Both you and the other tenant will need to sign documents. These are agreements to assign your tenancies to each other and to accept the terms and conditions of the tenancy. They are important documents and must be signed before you arrange to move, please make sure you read these carefully. If you don’t understand these documents you can call WPH to help you.
Some things to bear in mind:
- Finding out more about the home you want to move to. Once you have found someone you may want to swap homes with you should try to find out as much as you can about why they want to move and what is involved before you formally agree to swap. Housing staff will tell you what they know about the property and the area, but please remember that sometimes they do not know all the detail so it is up to you to find out.
- Changes in rent. Different landlords charge different rents. The rent you currently pay may be more or less than the rent of the person you are swapping with, when you swap you will pay their rent amount not your existing rent. You should check the rent with the new landlord before deciding to swap homes.
- Changes in tenancy type. When you swap a property with someone you also swap tenancies, this could mean you swap to a less secure tenancy, for example to a fixed term tenancy. Make sure you check before you agree to the swap and consider whether the tenancy type is the right one for you. However, Section 158 of the Localism Act creates a new mechanism for mutual exchanges based on the granting of new tenancies. The section introduces a protection for assured lifetime tenants who were granted their tenancy prior to 1 April 2012. If Tenant A (a lifetime tenant whose tenancy was granted prior to 1 April 2012) wishes to exchange with Tenant B (a fixed term tenant) then a new tenancy is issued to each and Tenant A is granted another assured tenancy.
- Repairs to your new home. The landlord will not usually redecorate between one person leaving and another moving in. Discuss any repairs with the landlord before you agree to swap. Do not rely on advice from the person moving out that the repairs will be done.
- Changes to housing benefit or universal credit. If you receive housing benefit or universal credit towards your rent then you will need to inform them that you have moved. Please note that moving may trigger a claim for universal credit and this could change the amount of benefit you receive. To check complete an online benefits calculator at entitledto.co.uk
Housing Moves offers Londoners living in social housing the chance to move home within the capital. It includes the Seaside & Country Homes scheme, which helps older tenants to move to flats and bungalows in the countryside or on the coast. Find out more details here.