Council or housing association tenants may be able swap their home with another council or housing association tenant.
What is a tenancy exchange?
A tenancy exchange (also called a mutual exchange) allows you to swap your home with another council or housing association tenant anywhere in the UK.
Tenants arrange tenancy exchanges themselves, often with the help of tenancy exchange websites.
This is different to a tenancy transfer, where your landlord transfers you to a new tenancy in another council or housing association property.
Get permission for a tenancy exchange
Contact your landlord and check that you can exchange your tenancy.
You must get permission and follow the proper process. You could be evicted if you try to exchange your tenancy without permission.
The tenant you are swapping with must also get permission from their landlord.
Tenants who qualify for an exchange
To exchange tenancies, you must be a:
- council tenant with a secure council tenancy or a flexible council tenancy
- housing association tenant with an assured tenancy or a secure tenancy
You can also exchange tenancies if you are a housing association tenant with a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy of 2 years or more.
You can't exchange tenancies if you:
- are a council tenant with an introductory tenancy or a demoted tenancy
- are a housing association tenant with a starter tenancy
- rent a bedsit or hostel room from the council
- live in supported accommodation
- rent your home from a private landlord, even if you got the home through the council
- own your home as a shared ownership leaseholder
How to find a tenancy exchange
Use a tenancy exchange website to help find another tenant to swap homes with, for example:
Some sites charge a fee for registration.
Ask your landlord if they have an arrangement that allows you to use a home swap website for free.
When you register online to use a tenancy exchange service, you are asked details about your current home, the kind of home you're looking for and where you want to live.
Once you have registered, you can get details of properties, make contact with other tenants and arrange to view their homes.
When you find a suitable property and you and the other tenant are happy to swap, you can ask your landlord for permission to exchange.
Your landlord has six weeks to decide whether or not to give you permission to exchange your tenancy.
Paying for a tenancy exchange
It is illegal for you or the other tenant to charge a fee as part of the tenancy exchange.
You could be evicted if you charge or receive any money to swap your home.
Your rights when you exchange your tenancy
Before you agree to a tenancy exchange, check what your tenancy rights will be in a new home. You may have different or fewer rights with your new tenancy.
Get advice if you are not sure what your rights will be.
Some tenancy exchanges must be transferred using a deed of assignment. This is a legal document that must be signed by an independent witness.
Get advice from your landlord or an independent adviser to check if you need to do this.
Call Shelter's free helpline on 0808 800 4444
When a landlord refuses permission for a tenancy exchange
Landlords can refuse permission for a tenancy exchange if there are reasonable grounds to do this.
Grounds for refusing a tenancy exchange include:
- your landlord has started eviction proceedings
- you work for your landlord and your home was provided in connection with your job
- your home is adapted for a person with special needs and nobody in the new tenant's household has those needs
- the home you want to move to is much larger than your household needs
- the home you want to move to is too small for your household and you would be overcrowded
If you owe rent, your landlord may only give consent on the condition that the arrears are paid off first.
Get advice from a housing adviser if your landlord doesn't give you permission to exchange or turns down your request but doesn't have a good reason.
A housing adviser may be able to negotiate with your landlord so the tenancy exchange can go ahead.
Last updated 31 Aug 2016 | © Shelter
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