As it becomes more difficult for the Council to arrange transfers, more and more tenants are discovering that mutual exchange can provide the different house or flat to meet their needs. This process involves two or more tenants swapping their homes.
It is possible for a Council tenants to make an exchange with a Housing Association tenant in the District and it is even possible to exchange to another part of the country through www.homeswapper.co.uk
How to go about it
When you find someone to exchange with always inspect their house inside and out to make sure it is what you want. You must expect them to want to do the same with your house.
When inspecting the other house you must keep in mind that the Council will not be carrying out improvements immediately after you move in and if you think you would like fittings (kitchen units, bathroom appliances etc) replaced, you will have to arrange that for yourself.
When you are sure that you want to go ahead, ask the Housing Department for an application form and return it when it is filled in. In the case of joint tenancies, each joint tenant must sign the form.
No exchange must take place until the Council has given written approval. You could risk losing your tenancy if you move without permission.
If you are exchanging to a house or flat owned by another Council or a Housing Association make sure you have their written approval before moving.
Points to remember
If you have arrears on your rent account an exchange will only be approved on condition that the arrears are cleared before you move.
The Council can recharge you for the cost of any outstanding damage or replacement that is necessary after you move. When you exchange you must leave your home including the garden and shedstore, in a satisfactory condition, and clean and tidy for the new tenant. If you are going to remove any fixtures and fittings you own, you must tell the new tenant and fit replacements before you move. If you need any advice about this you should contact the Council before you agree to exchange.
Only routine repairs that would have been carried out if the exchange had not happened will be carried out after you move. You should not expect improvements or major repairs to take place just because you have exchanged.
If you make a mistake and regret your exchange you are unlikely to be able to get another move by a transfer arranged by the Council.
Permission to exchange will be refused on the following grounds:
a. there is a Possession Order from a court awarded against you or the other tenant;
b. possession proceedings have been commenced by the issue of a "Notice of Seeking Possession";
c. the property into which you wish to move is too large or small for you and your family. We generally accept that a house or flat could have one extra bedroom more than your needs.
We will have to give careful consideration whether or not to approve an exchange if:-
one of the properties is specially adapted for a disabled person;
one of the properties is specifically for elderly persons and has a resident warden living nearby.
A mutual exchange can involve more than just two tenants. Where an exchange between two tenants is only partly acceptable, perhaps because of size or location, a third tenant wanting to exchange might solve the problem. It may be possible for the Housing Department to introduce a third party to "unlock" an otherwise unsuitable exchange.
- When you receive the Council's approval letter you can agree with the other party when you want to move.
- Arrange a removal contractor and make sure you are packed and ready for him at the agreed time.
- Contact local Gas and Electricity suppliers to ensure that the supplies will be in your name at the new address.
- Advise the milkman and anyone else making regular deliveries that you are moving.
- You can arrange for your mail to be redirected by the Post Office but there is a charge for this service.
- Arrange with the other tenants to meet on the day so that you can exchange keys.
- If you are concerned about security change the front and back door locks after you move. You will have to arrange this privately at your own expense.
The local mutual exchange list
The Council no longer operates a local exchange list. Applicants can register for free on www.homeswapper.co.uk, a national service available to those who want to move, either within the district or elsewhere in the country.
If you need any further assistance you can contact the Rehousing Section on 01727 819480.
Date of last review: 21 October 2016
Housing association tenancies
If you exchange into a property owned by a Housing Association you will be offered an "assured tenancy". This is similar to a Council tenancy but there are two major differences:-
- you will not have a statutory Right to Buy;
- there is no statutory right for sons and daughters to "succeed" to the tenancy after the tenant's death.
If either of these two matters are important to you make sure you discuss them with the Housing Association before going ahead.