Mutual exchange

What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is when two or more tenants exchange (swap) their properties. Each tenant must move into their exchange partner's property. A tenant cannot exchange into an empty property.

You can exchange with:

  • a tenant of a housing association; or

  • a tenant of another council.

You must not exchange your property without your landlords permission.

Will I need permission before a mutual exchange can take place?

Yes. You must contact your landlord (and any other landlord involved) to get permission to exchange. Your request will not be refused without good reason.

How can I apply for a mutual exchange?

Once you have found another tenant to exchange your home with, you should both contact your landlords who will provide you with the appropriate forms and information regarding mutual exchanges.

Who can I exchange with?

You may be able to swap your home with another tenant of a housing association, other registered social landlord or Council anywhere in the country.

How do I find someone to swap with?

There are  a number of national websites which advertise mutual exchanges for social housing tenancies.

Some require a small fee and some are free to access; check your landlords' website to see if you can register for free on any sites.

What do I do if I have found someone to exchange with?

If you know who you would like to exchange with, you will both need to contact your landlord.

How quickly will a decision be made?

By law, your landlord must make a decision within 42 days of receiving your request to mutually exchange with another tenant.

Are there any other conditions that I must meet?

Yes. Your Housing Officer will visit you to inspect any alterations you have made and to make sure that the property is in good condition and will also check your rent account.  If you have rent arrears (missed rent payments), you may not be able to move straight away.

If you want to exchange with the tenant of another council or a registered social landlord, your landlord will have to provide a written reference for your tenancy to the other landlord.  The other council or registered social landlord will do the same for their tenant.

Other conditions that you must meet before the exchange can go ahead include the following:

  • you must not owe any rent (unless you have been keeping to a repayment agreement for a set time);

  • you must not have caused a nuisance or caused anti-social behaviour; and

  • you must have allowed your landlord carry out gas and electricity safety checks within the last 12 months.

Why will my request be refused?

Your landlord will not unreasonably refuse an application for a mutual exchange.  However, your landlord may refuse an application if:

  • one of the homes would be overcrowded;

  • the landlord is taking legal action to repossess your home or the home you want to swap with;

  • the exchange would mean that a home adapted for elderly or disabled people would have nobody living in it who needs the adaptation; or

  • there is a possession order against any of the parties.

It is illegal to pay anyone to persuade them to exchange tenancies with you.  If you exchange without asking for permission, you may be forced you to move back or have your home repossessed.

What will happen if my request is refused?

If your landlord refuses your application, they should write to you within 42 days of receiving your request to explain why the request has been refused and will include details of you how you can appeal against the decision.

What will happen if my request is accepted?

A date will be arranged for the exchange to take place which is suitable for everyone involved.  You will be asked to sign the appropriate paperwork needed for the exchange to take place.

Reviews and appeals

If you are refused a mutual exchange, you can appeal by writing to your landlord. Your appeal will be dealt with according to your landlords official complaints procedure.

For further information regarding mutual exchanges please contact your landlord.

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