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Swapping your home

What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is when two or more housing association or council tenants exchange (swap) their homes. Each tenant must move into their exchange partner’s property and take on responsibility for that tenancy.

You may wish to exchange to a larger or smaller property or to move to a different location. You can exchange with another tenant living in any part of the country.

Mutual exchanges are often found to be a quicker method of moving house than a transfer.

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Am I eligible for an exchange?

Most people with a secure, assured lifetime or 5-year fixed-term social housing tenancy in their name are eligible. In addition, neither party must have rent arrears nor have a history of antisocial behaviour nor any other breaches of tenancy conditions.

You will not be eligible if any of the following apply:

  • You have a starter, or an assured shorthold tenancy
  • You have rent arrears
  • You have a history of antisocial behaviour
  • You have been given a property as part of your employment with its landlord
  • You have been housed by a charity and the new tenant would conflict with the charity’s aims
  • You are living in a hostel or supported accommodation

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Do I need your permission to exchange?

Yes. If you have found another tenant you wish to exchange with, you need to complete an initial request to exchange form. This is to confirm that you and your proposed exchange partner are eligible for the exchange.

It is important that you visit and inspect the property you want to move to. You should look for any improvements the tenant has made, as they will become your responsibility.

We will respond to your initial request to exchange within 5 working days of receipt of the completed form. We will then consider your initial application and tell you if you are able to go ahead with the exchange. You'll then need to complete the full application form. We will let you know our decision within 42 days of receiving your full application form. We will not refuse permission without good reason.

You should not make any arrangements to move until you have received written approval from all landlords.

You must not exchange your home without our permission. If you do, you may have to move back and we could take legal action to end your tenancy.

How do I sign up for an exchange?

The most popular way of finding an exchange partner is online. We have signed up to two mutual exchange websites, and membership is free for our existing tenants:

Once you have registered you will have to provide:

  • a description of your property and its location
  • photos of your property
  • a description of the type of property you are looking for

The more information about your property, and photographs, that you provide, the more interest you might receive from other tenants who want to exchange.

Once you have registered, you will have the opportunity to search for properties all over the country including your local area. You can choose the type of property you would like to move into and the location where you would like to move to.

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Other ways of finding an exchange partner

Other ways of finding an exchange partner include using other website services, placing advertisements in local newsagents and other shop windows, advertising in local or national newspapers and asking friends, family and neighbours.

If your tenancy was issued on or after 1 April 2012, or if you are considering carrying out a mutual exchange with someone whose tenancy was issued on or after the 1 April 2012, please speak to your Tenancy Advisor. This is because tenancies offered on or after this date are different from tenancies issued before. It is important you understand the possible implications of making a mutual exchange.

What happens next?

Read our frequently asked questions about what happens when you swap your home.