Mutual Exchange

Mutual exchange is when you swap your home with another tenant to move to another area or to get larger or smaller accommodation to suit your needs.

It is often used by tenants who wish to move, but are a low priority for a transfer.

You can find an ‘exchange partner’ by:

  • Word of mouth
  • Advertising locally or in the area(s) you would like to move to
  • Using the ‘Homeswapper’ exchange scheme
  • You and your exchange partner must have a permanent secure or assured tenancy and can be a Hounslow Homes tenant, or tenants of any other council or registered social landlord.

If you find somewhere you are interested in, both tenants should see each property and meet to discuss the swap. If you decide to swap each of you needs to contact their landlord and complete an application form.

You will be taking over someone else’s tenancy and must accept the property as you find it. Although the property may be inspected, we will not decorate it, or change or repair any alterations made by the other person, as they will become your responsibility for the duration of the tenancy.

This includes decoration, cleaning, non standard fittings such as laminate flooring, light fittings, replacement doors etc. We will not repair any items that have been damaged by the previous tenant, unless the previous tenant makes good before the exchange.

For advice before your exchange, speak to the Estate Manager or contact the Customer Service Centre on 0800 085 65 75

Other important advice:

  • Other landlords do not usually have the same tenancy agreements as councils, and some of their tenants may not have secure tenancies. You should ask to see a copy of the agreement before making a decision on whether to go ahead with the swap. If you are thinking eventually buying your new home, check this will be possible, as many housing associations properties cannot be bought by tenants.
  • Check how much the rent is before you move. The rent may be higher or lower than you pay now.
  • Make sure you can afford the costs of moving home. If you are on income support you may be eligible to assistance from the DSS social fund, but you will not be eligible for help from either landlord.
  • You and your exchange partner MUST get written permission from your landlord before you swap. It is illegal to swap without permission, or to give money, payments or goods to the other party to secure a swap. If that happens legal action will be taken against you and you may be evicted or face a fine.
  • You can change your mind about the move right up to the time you actually sign the deed of assignment (the document to exchange tenancies), but once the deed is signed there is a formal contract in place. Unless both parties want to cancel, your swap partner could take you to court for breach of contract if you don’t go ahead, which could result in the contract being enforced or a claim of compensation being upheld against you.

Reasons for refusing your application to exchange

The law sets out ten situations where your mutual exchange can be refused:

1.If there is a court order for Possession of your property outstanding against you or the person with whom you wish to swap.

2.If there is a Notice of Seeking Possession outstanding against either of you.

3.If the swap would result in one of the properties being substantially under-occupied.

4.If the extent or size of one of the properties is not suitable for the family moving into it, i.e. they would be overcrowding.

5.If either of you do not have a normal secure tenancy – for instance if you have a service tenancy.

6.If the other landlord is a charity and the swap would conflict with the aims of that charity.

7.If either home has been specially adapted for a disabled person and the swap partner does not need the adaptation.

8.If the other landlord is a housing association or a Trust who let homes to people with particular needs and you do not have those needs.

9.If either property is for special use – e.g. Sheltered Housing, and the swap partner does not have a need for that service.

10.If one of the properties belongs to a housing association or co﷓operative and the tenant moving into it refuses to become a member of that housing association or co-operative.

Both landlords will consider these points, some of which may be relevant to only one property, but the decision will affect the whole swap.