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Tenancy transfers

You can ask your council or housing association for a move to another home. This is called a tenancy transfer.

You might get a transfer to a home with the same landlord or a different social landlord.

A tenancy transfer is different to a tenancy exchange or mutual exchange. This is where you find another council or housing association tenant to swap homes with.

Who can apply for a transfer

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

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

For example, you might want to move because:

  • your home is too big or too small for you

  • you need a ground floor flat with no stairs

  • you want to live closer to a family member for care or support

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, if you are:

  • experiencing domestic abuse

  • facing violence, harassment or aggression where you live

  • dealing with serious antisocial behaviour or crime in your home

Your council or housing association might also need to you to move if they are planning major works or demolition of your home.

It is called a management transfer when your landlord moves you quickly for these reasons. It usually means you get extra priority on housing waiting lists.

Ask for an urgent transfer

Copy our letter template into an email to your landlord.

[Use the subject: Urgent tenancy transfer]

I need an urgent transfer to another council or housing association tenancy.

I need to move quickly because of [say why you need to move].

I can provide supporting evidence of my need to move.

Please contact me as soon as possible and send me a copy of your transfer policy.

You can also send the template as an email attachment or by post.

Transfers because of domestic abuse

You can sometimes keep your tenancy rights if a council gives you a new tenancy.

A council must give you a secure lifetime tenancy if you had a:

  • secure lifetime 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 give you a fully assured tenancy 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 because your children or other family members have left home

  • not suited to your needs, for example, because you are older, disabled or have a health problem

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

Transfers to a different council area

You can ask your landlord to talk to councils and housing associations in other areas.

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.

How long a transfer takes

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 are not enough council and housing association homes in most areas.

You often have to wait longer for larger homes, sheltered housing or adapted properties for disabled people.

Ask your council how long it could take to get a transfer. You might 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 a direct offer of a home.

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

Transfer incentive schemes

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

This is usually to encourage you to:

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

  • downsize to a smaller home so that you do not have to pay the bedroom tax

Ask your landlord for details.

Last updated: 2 June 2024

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