Mutual exchange policy
Refusing a Mutual Exchange
7.1 WHBC will not unreasonably withhold permission to mutually exchange and will refer to the following applicable grounds for refusal;
- Schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1985 (Appendix 1)
- Schedule 14 of the Localism Act 2011 (Appendix 2)
- WHBC Mutual Exchange Policy
7.2 Schedule 3 applies to secure tenants when the tenancy started prior to 1st April 2012.
7.3 Schedule 14 applies for all tenancies created after 1st April 2012.
7.4 WHBC cannot legally refuse a mutual exchange for rent arrears unless Schedule 14 grounds apply, however it will usually be made a condition of consent that any rent arrears must be cleared before a specified date and prior to the exchange taking place.
7.5 Exceptions to rent arrears may be considered where an applicant is downsizing due to the benefit-cap or welfare reform and they are exchanging with another WHBC tenant. A payment plan must be in place and consent sought from the Income and Home Ownership Manager or Head of Housing Operations.
7.6 Some households may be impacted by a reduction in benefit due to welfare reform and whilst we are not able to refuse a mutual exchange on the grounds of affordability, a discussion will take place with the applicant on what can happen if they fail to pay the rent, to enable them to make an informed decision.
7.7 To ensure that we are fair and consistent, when refusing a mutual exchange on grounds of overcrowding or under-occupation, we use the size criteria outlined in Welfare Reform Act 2012 to determine the 'appropriate size' of accommodation. This means we will allow one bedroom for each of the following:
- A single person will be offered a bedsit or one bedroom property.
- Two adults living as a couple (whether as part of a larger household or not) will be offered one double bedroom unless there is medical evidence to support the need for separate bedrooms.
- Two children (under 16) of the same gender are expected to share
- Two children who are under 10 are expected to share regardless of gender.
- A person who is not a child (aged 16 and over) is entitled to a single bedroom.
- Any other child, (other than a child whose main home is elsewhere).
- Offers will take into account babies once they are born - not before.
- Where two applicants have shared care of children, the children will be counted as part of the household which is normally responsible for them and provides their main home. If a child spends equal amounts of time in different parental households, or there is a question as to whom they normally live with, they will be treated as living with the person who is receiving child benefit for them.
7.8 An exception to the above is where an applicant has an accepted duty and/or an approved application on the council's Housing Needs Register (HNR) with an assessed housing need. Where this is the case, we will assess mutual exchange applications consistently with the assessed housing need of the HNR application, in line with the allocations policy.
7.9 Where the party in the exchange is moving to a council property from another landlord from in/out of borough and does not have an accepted duty or approved HNR application, we will assess those parties application and housing need in line with the size criteria set out in section 7.7 above.
7.10 Where grounds for refusal relates to an adapted property, we will only reasonably withhold consent where the incoming tenant or a member of the household has no need or requirement and the adaptations are complex. A single and common adaptation may not prevent an exchange from taking place.
7.11 A mutual exchange will not be refused where the incoming tenant requires the property to be adapted, however it will be made a requirement that the assessments and funding is approved under the Aids and Adaptations Policy prior to the exchange being agreed.