Swapping Your Home

What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is where you swap properties with another tenant. All secure and assured tenants have the right to exchange properties with another tenant within Sovereign Housing Association, another housing association or a local authority.

However, you cannot carry out an exchange if you have an assured shorthold tenancy or a licence. Similarly, the payment or the accepting of an incentive to influence the outcome of an exchange is a breach of the tenancy conditions and is grounds for the landlord to repossess.


How do I start?

If you are interested in moving and want to look at the possibility of doing a mutual exchange, you are responsible for finding an exchange partner. You can do this in a number of ways:

  • You can advertise in the local press or in local shops
  • Some local housing association offices hold exchange registers or will know of other tenants looking for an exchange
  • The local authority housing office may hold a register of their tenants who are looking to exchange
  • You can register at homeswapper.co.uk . Sovereign will pay your subscription fee

When you have found someone to swap properties with you should arrange to view the property to make sure that it is what you are both looking for.


How do I get permission to make the exchange?

Both exchange partners need the permission of each landlord.

At Sovereign Housing Group we have a simple Mutual Exchange Request form to help with this. You should complete the form and return it to your local Sovereign Housing office.

Your exchange partner should request the same from their landlord. We will then contact your exchange partner’s landlord to provide and receive additional details of your exchange request. The exchange cannot proceed until both landlords have received the completed forms.

Tenants who exchange without contacting their landlord; or before receiving permission; or before the exchange papers are signed; lose their security of tenure and can be considered squatters. In this case a Notice to Quit can be served and action taken against the occupiers as squatters. Possession proceedings could also be started against the tenant for not using their property as their only or principal home.


What happens when you’ve received my exchange request?

When we receive the completed application forms from both exchange partners you will be contacted by your Neighbourhood Housing Officer to arrange a visit to your home. We are required to produce a report for the landlord of your exchange partner which includes information on the condition of your property as you left it and the way your tenancy has been conducted.

Sovereign will also get a similar report from your exchange partner’s landlord. When we have the report from your exchange partner’s landlord we will assess the Request for Exchange.

Sovereign normally agrees to requests for exchange however there are some exceptions to this, which include but are not limited to.

  • If you or your exchange partner are in breach of your tenancy, e.g.outstanding arrears, notices or legal action outstanding.
  • If the exchange would lead to overcrowding or under-occupancy of our property
  • If the property is designed specifically for people with special needs and your exchange partner has no special needs.

By law we have 6 weeks to tell you whether your exchange can proceed.


How will I know if I can go through with the exchange?

Your Neighbourhood Housing Officer will write to you to confirm that consent has been given. If consent is not given the letter will outline the reasons. You must not move or exchange until you and your exchange partner have received written consent otherwise you will be occupying each other’s property illegally.


What do I do next?

If you receive permission for the exchange you must agree a provisional date for the exchange with your exchange partner and both landlords. You will be required to sign important documents for each landlord before this date and you should arrange an appointment with your Neighbourhood Housing Officer to do this. If you are a joint tenant both tenants must sign the documents.

Once all of the documents are signed the exchange can go ahead. At this point you should:

  • Arrange a time with your exchange partner for the exchange and handover of keys
  • If you receive Housing Benefit you must submit a new claim form to the local council before the exchange date
  • Confirm that your exchange partner has made good any damage (you will be accepting responsibility for any left over damage after the exchange)
  • Confirm that your exchange partner is going to leave the items you agreed in the property, e.g. carpets, curtains, etc.


How long will this take?

Provided that you and your exchange partner keep both landlords notified of your progress, complete and return the forms and documents quickly and have clear rent accounts, the whole process can take as little as 6 weeks.

  • Spectrum House, Grange Road,
    Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 4GE
  • 0300 777 7837
  • contact@sovereign.org.uk
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