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Tenancy transfers

If you are a council or housing association tenant and want to move to a new home you can apply for a tenancy transfer.

What is a tenancy transfer?

Most council and housing association tenants can apply for a transfer.

A tenancy transfer is when your landlord allows you to move to another council or housing association property in the area.

How to get a tenancy transfer

Your chances of getting a tenancy transfer depend on the reasons you want one – this is very important as it will decide how much priority you get.

Your chances also depend on whether:

  • your landlord has accommodation of the right size – larger homes are usually in short supply
  • you want a smaller home. If so, you may be able to get a tenancy transfer sooner
  • you need a home that has been adapted for support needs – in this situation you may have to wait longer

Eligibility for a tenancy transfer

You can usually apply for a tenancy transfer if you are a council or housing association tenant.

You probably can't apply for a tenancy transfer if:

You usually can't transfer if you have rent arrears. It may be allowed if you have kept to an agreement to pay off what you owe.

Priority for a tenancy transfer

Some tenants are given more priority for a transfer. This could be because:

  • your home is now too big for your household, for example because your children have left home
  • you are under-occupying your home, and since the introduction of the bedroom tax you can no longer afford the rent
  • your family has grown and your home is now overcrowded
  • your current home isn't suited to your needs because you are ill or have a disability

How to apply for a tenancy transfer

Contact your council's housing office or your housing association to apply for a tenancy transfer. You will be asked to fill in a form or register online.

Use the Gov.uk local council search to find details of your local council.

You will be asked for information about why you need to move. Explain any special circumstances, for example a health condition that makes your current home unsuitable.

Get advice if you need help applying for a tenancy transfer.

Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your area

Waiting for a tenancy transfer

Tenancy transfers can take a long time. There is no guarantee that you will get the home you want. There is a shortage of property in most areas.

To speed up the process, you may need to be flexible about what you are prepared to accept.

Offers and bids for a new tenancy

In many areas there is a choice-based letting scheme. This means you have to bid for empty council and housing association properties that your council advertises.

In other areas, the council or housing association makes you an offer of a new home. You might only be given one offer.

If you refuse an offer, you may not get another offer for some time or you may lose your priority.

Ask your council or housing association what its policy is.

Tenancy transfers to another area

You may be able to transfer to a tenancy in another area, for example to be near a special school or other service.

Ask your landlord about getting a nomination to another council or to a housing association in a different area.

Transfer incentive schemes

Some council and housing association landlords offer cash incentives to move.

These are offered to encourage tenants to transfer to smaller homes or if they no longer need a home that has been specially adapted for a disabled person to use.

Ask your landlord for details.

Tenancy exchange

You might have a better chance of moving home if you consider a tenancy (mutual) exchange with another council or housing association tenant.


Last updated 31 Aug 2016 | © Shelter

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