Tenancy transfers

You can apply for a transfer if you're a council or housing association tenant and you want to move to a new home.

What is a tenancy transfer?

A tenancy transfer is when you apply to move to another council or housing association property. You usually have to go on a waiting list for a transfer.

It's different to a tenancy exchange where you find another council or housing association tenant to swap your home with.

Transfers to a different council area

Ask your landlord to nominate you to the council area you need to move to.

When you can get a transfer

Whether you can get a tenancy transfer depends on why you need to move.

You usually get more priority if you have an urgent need. For example:

  • you are being harassed or threatened with violence
  • you need to move to receive or provide support

Your chances may also depend on the:

  • size of home you need - larger homes are usually in short supply
  • type of home you need, for example, an adapted property

Who can apply for a transfer

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

If you have rent arrears, you might be refused a transfer unless you come to an agreement to pay off the arrears.

Priority for a transfer

You may get priority for a transfer if:

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

How to apply for a 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.

Find your local council on GOV.UK 

Explain any special circumstances, for example a health condition that makes your current home unsuitable.

How long a transfer will take

Tenancy transfers can take a long time. There is a shortage of council and housing association properties in many areas.

Ask your council how long it may take to get at transfer.

You may need to be flexible about what you are prepared to accept.

Offers and bids for a new tenancy

Many councils have a choice-based letting scheme. This means you 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.

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

Get advice before you turn down an offer of housing.

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.

Last updated 16 April 2019 | © Shelter

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