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Tenancy transfers

A tenancy transfer is when your council or housing association:

  • offers you a different council or housing association home

  • nominates you for a home with a different council or housing association

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

Who can apply for a transfer

Most council and housing association tenants can apply.

Getting a tenancy transfer depends on why you want to move.

Transfers to a different council area

You can ask your landlord to nominate you to the council area you want to move to.

How to apply for a transfer

Contact your council's housing office or your housing association to apply. You usually fill in a form or register online.

If you have a very urgent need to move

Your council or housing association could offer to move you quickly if it is very urgent.

For example:

  • domestic abuse

  • violence, harassment or intimidation

  • witness protection in antisocial behaviour or criminal cases

  • major works or demolition of your home

This is called a management transfer. It usually means you get extra priority on any waiting lists.

You can use our letter template to ask for an urgent transfer.

Domestic abuse

From 1 November 2021 some council and housing association tenants have new rights if a council gives you a new tenancy because of domestic abuse.

Councils must give you a lifetime secure tenancy if you had a:

  • secure tenancy - but not a flexible or fixed term tenancy

  • assured housing association tenancy - but not an assured shorthold tenancy

Housing associations do not have to offer fully assured tenancies but they can.

You can also ask the council for homeless help if you are experiencing domestic abuse.

Other priorities for a transfer

You may get some priority for a transfer if your home is:

  • overcrowded

  • too big, for example, if your children have left home

  • unsuitable, for example, because of old age, disability or health problem

Your housing association or council should have a policy on tenancy transfers.

How long a transfer will take

You usually go on a waiting list for a transfer unless you have a very urgent need.

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

You often have to wait even longer for larger homes, sheltered or adapted properties.

Ask your council how long it could take to get at transfer. You may need to be flexible about what you will 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.

You might lose priority for a transfer if you turn a suitable offer down.

Transfer incentive schemes

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

These are usually to encourage tenants to:

  • move out of an adapted or accessible property if they do not need it

  • downsize to a smaller home, for example, if affected by the bedroom tax

Ask your landlord for details.

Last updated: 14 July 2022

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