Do you want to swap your home?
Whatever your reason for wanting to move home, if your property no longer suits your needs you should consider the possibility of 'swapping' your home.
A mutual exchange is when two or more council or housing association tenants swap their homes. With their landlord's permission, each tenant moves in to the property of the person they are exchanging with. You can exchange with:
- another council tenant
- a tenant of another council or housing association.
You'll need to complete and sign the appropriate legal paperwork before you move and you will usually take over the existing tenancy agreement of the person you're exchanging with.
It is not possible to exchange in to an empty property.
It is important to remember that you will be agreeing to take over your new home as it is. If the property needs decorating or repairing, you must be willing to carry out this work yourself.
Who can exchange?
Any council or housing association tenant with a secure, assured or flexible tenancy can apply for a mutual exchange.
In particular circumstances, your application may be turned down. Reasons why an application would be turned down are if you:
- are in arrears with your rent
- have caused a nuisance or anti-social behaviour, or you have breached your tenancy agreement in some other way
- haven't allowed us to carry out a gas safety check during the last 12 months
- are in the process of being of having court action against you
- have been issued with a notice seeking possession of your home
- have not maintained your home to the standard required
- have altered your home without our permission
The application may also be turned down if the property you would like to move to is:
- too big or too small for your needs
- has been designed or adapted for a disabled or older person, or built for a specific age group and you, or the person you're exchanging with, don't qualify for that type of housing.
How to find someone to exchange with
Join HomeSwapper, a scheme which has been designed to simplify the exchange process.
HomeSwapper is an online database of people who want to move home. It's free to use and allows you to find people who want to live in the type of property you want to move to. It's a nationwide service, so you can move within Welwyn Hatfield or anywhere else in the country.
To register, go to www.homeswapper.co.uk and complete and online application form. You'll need to supply:
- your contact information
- your choice of locations
- the number of bedrooms you need
- details of the kind of home you would like
- other special features you're looking for, such as a garden or a ground floor flat.
Once you have searched online and found a property you are interested in, you'll need to contact the tenant by phone or email to arrange to view each other's homes.
You can show an interest in as many homes as you like until you find a home that suits you. Improve your chances by advertising in local newspapers and shop windows, or consider a swap with a family member or friend.
Tips for a smooth exchange
- Be safe and secure - make sure you have another adult with you during viewing, and accompany potential exchange partners as they view your home.
- Make a good first impression - tidy your garden, mow your lawn, cut your hedges and clear away any rubbish or mess.
- Keep your house clean and tidy - get rid of anything you don't need. Decluttering now will save you time and effort when you move.
- Be flexible - try to be a flexible as possible with viewing times.
- Share your knowledge - let potential exchange partners know about your local area. Tell them where the nearest shops, schools and doctors surgeries are, and give them information to help them understand what it's like to live in their neighbourhood.
What happens after you have found someone to exchange with?
You and the person you're exchanging with will need to complete a mutual exchange application form. You may also need to complete a form for your partner's landlord if it isn't us.
Once the forms are received, we will consider your request and either approve or refuse permission for the move.
If we aren't willing to give you permission to exchange, we will write to you and let you know why. If it's because of something about your tenancy, we will tell you why. If the decision is connected with your mutual exchange partner's tenancy we may not be able to tell you the reason for the refusal.
If that happens, it's best to talk to your exchange partner to see if the problems can be sorted out. If they can't, you'll need to find someone else to swap with.
If your exchange is approved, we will arrange to inspect your property to check it's in good condition. We will also carry out a gas and electrical safety check. Once the inspections are done, we'll contact you to arrange a date for the move.
Please don't move until you have signed all the legal paperwork. If you move before you sign, you could lose your security of tenure or even be evicted.
Property condition and repair work
You will be required to carry out any remedial works.
If any defects or remedial works are not carried out prior to the end of the tenancy, or if the work is not of a satisfactory standard, a recharge may then be raised for the cost of the works.
Important things to remember
- If you have a joint tenancy, you'll both need to agree to the exchange.
- Make sure you can afford to move. You'll need to arrange and pay for the removal yourself.
- You're not allowed to give or accept money or goods in exchange for agreeing a swap.
- Check that you're happy with the condition of the property that you're moving to. Any defects won't be repaired unless they are a risk to health and safety.
- You are responsible for all non-essential repairs and redecorating.
- Don't move without getting permission. If you do, both you and your exchange partner risk losing your security of tenure and you could face eviction or be forced to return to your original homes.
- Once we have given you permission to move, you will need to agree with your exchange partner what fixtures and fittings (including carpets) you will leave behind in your old house.
- Find out if your tenancy conditions will change when you move. When you complete a mutual exchange you usually take over the tenancy rights of the person you are swapping with, which could mean losing some of your existing rights (such as your Right to Buy). It's your responsibility to check this before deciding whether or not to exchange.
- If you're swapping with someone who isn't a council tenant, it's a good idea to ask their landlord for a copy of the tenancy agreement so that you can compare it with your own.