If you are a housing association tenant you can swap homes with another housing association tenant under a mutual exchange. All tenants must have secure or assured tenancies.
By finding someone who wants to mutually exchange you may not have to wait for months or years on the housing register as a transfer applicant. You can also exchange to properties in other boroughs providing you can find someone willing to swap with you.
HomeSwapper is a service that can help you find a match and a new home. It has the UK's biggest list of members all wanting to swap homes. This means there are millions of possible swaps waiting for you.
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Why exchange rather than move via the housing register
A mutual exchange could be a better option for you if you:
- might not qualify to join the housing register
- want to transfer to a property outside of your current area or district
- face a long wait for a property through the housing register due to your priority on the housing register or due to the size of property you require
- want a wider choice of properties.
Waiting for a transfer via the housing register means that you are waiting for a property to become empty.
A mutual exchange does not just mean you have to swap like for like you could:
- swap across the country or just down the road
- swap a flat for a house or a house for a flat
- move to somewhere with a garden
- find a property without stairs or that is adapted to meet your physical disability needs.
Once you have found a property, you must get written permission from the landlords of both properties before the swap can take place. Your landlords will complete all necessary paperwork with you to make your swap happen.
- Mutual exchange conditions
A housing association may refuse an exchange for any of the following reasons:
- The incoming or outgoing tenant is subject to a current court order, notice seeking possession or demotion notice.
- The incoming or outgoing tenant is on a temporary or starter tenancy.
- The property is larger than needed by the incoming tenant. It is acceptable to have one bedroom more than is needed, but incoming tenants need to be aware of possible shortfalls in housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit due to under-occupation.
- The property is too small for the incoming tenant.
- The property is a specialist housing provision and nobody within the incoming tenant’s household meets the criteria, for example a property adapted for someone with physical disabilities or a property with an age restriction.
- The incoming or outgoing tenant has a certain level of rent arrears and/or outstanding court costs on their rent account. These may need to be cleared before the exchange can go ahead.
There are other breaches of tenancy such as damage or unauthorised adaptations which will need to be rectified before the exchange can go ahead.
- Other important things to consider
Before making a decision on a swap, you need to consider the following:
- If you have a pet, you must ask your potential landlord for permission to keep your pet in your new home before you exchange.
- Do not arrange removals until a date for the exchange has been agreed by both housing associations in writing.
- Make sure you have visited the property you intend to move to in daylight and are satisfied with its condition.
- Remember to agree with the household you are exchanging with what is to be left behind.
- Be aware that a condition of the exchange is that properties may be subject to an inspection prior to approval being given.
- Remember to tell your utility providers and TV licensing that you are moving.
- Inform the council tax team whose area you are moving to.
- Make sure you clear any arrears on pre-payment gas and electric meters and remember to leave your key/card for the incoming tenant.
- You must arrange to swap house keys with the person you are exchanging your home with.
- If you are receiving, or are likely to receive housing benefit or the housing element of universal credit, you must complete a new housing benefit form or report your change in circumstances through your universal credit account before moving in, preferably on the day you call into the housing association’s offices to sign the documentation.
- If you are receiving income related benefits, you must tell the Department for Work and Pensions immediately. If you do not, any housing benefit entitlement or housing element of universal credit will not be granted until you have told the Department for Work and Pensions and you will be responsible for the full rent until you do.
- Do not forget to get your mail redirected. Visit your local Post Office for details.