A Mutual Exchange is a swap of accommodation between two or more customers. It relies on each party moving permanently into their exchange partner’s property.
All Council and Housing Association customers with Secure Tenancies and most Council and Housing Association customers with Assured Tenancies can apply to exchange their homes. Unfortunately, Mutual Exchanges with customers in leased or private rented accommodation are not allowed. A customer cannot exchange into an empty property. All customers must apply for, and obtain permission from their respective landlord(s) before going ahead with an exchange.
Why must I apply for permission before exchanging my accommodation?
You are legally responsible for your home and for the prompt payment of the rent. You are required to keep to the terms of your Tenancy Agreement and must not exchange or Assign your Tenancy without Stafford and Rural Homes (SARH) consent. SARH will take legal action against you if you exchange your home without permission.
How do I obtain permission to exchange my home?
SARH Customers wishing to exchange their home must:
- Have a clear rent account
- Want to move to the right size home for their current housing needs, or into a home with a maximum of one bedroom more than they need.
Other conditions may apply. A customer moving to a specially adapted property must have been assessed and given medical priority for that type of home.
Will pursuing a Mutual Exchange affect my application for a transfer?
Pursuing an exchange will not affect your application for a transfer (moving to an empty property). It will, however, increase your chances of obtaining a move.
What if I do not have any priority for a transfer?
You can still apply for a Mutual Exchange. Moves are not based on priority need; therefore all customers have the opportunity to exchange if they wish.
How will I find a suitable exchange partner?
SARH has joined the UK’s leading mutual exchange service, HomeSwapper. SARH customers who are looking for a mutual exchange will now be able to register on HomeSwapper for free.
HomeSwapper offers customers the opportunity to swap their home with other tenants. You can find out more about HomeSwapper, including how to register, by visiting homeswapper.me.
Non-SARH customers can also use HomeSwapper, however, you may incur a fee if your landlord is not registered with the service. Please contact your landlord directly for more information.
Alternatively, many customers have found their exchange partners through friends and relatives or by placing postcards in shop windows.
It is important at this stage that neither party to the exchange moves until all parties have received written consent from their landlord.
How do I apply for a mutual exchange?
When you have found someone who wishes to exchange properties with you, complete a Mutual Exchange Application Form.
How long will it take?
SARH is required to give you a decision about your application within 42 days. However, we will try to complete the exchange process as quickly as possible.
What will happen next?
A SARH Technical Officer will arrange to inspect your current home. The reason for the inspection is to identify any improvements that you may have carried out or any damage caused to the property. Any improvements you have carried out during your tenancy must be left in the property when you leave or you must reinstate the property to a condition acceptable to SARH. These matters will be fully discussed during the inspection. You will be given a copy of the inspection report so that you are clear about your responsibilities. On the day you move into your new home, SARH will arrange for safety checks to be carried out to your gas, electricity or solid fuel – whichever is applicable. Please ensure that the engineers have access to the property.
Will my tenancy rights be affected?
Your tenancy rights may be affected if you exchange your property with a customer of another Housing Association or Local Authority. If you have any concerns about this, please ask the Housing Association or Local Authority or seek independent legal advice. If you exchange with another SARH customer there are no changes to policies on repairs, improvements and adaptations.
Can Stafford and Rural Homes refuse an exchange?
SARH can refuse consent for a mutual exchange but only on specified grounds. The grounds for refusing consent are fully set out below. If you are not allowed to go ahead with the exchange, SARH will write to you to explain the reasons for refusing consent.
What are the grounds for refusing Mutual Exchange consent?
Stafford and Rural Homes may refuse consent for a mutual exchange on one of the following grounds as set out in Schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1985:
- The tenant or the proposed assignee is subject to a possession order or a suspended possession order.
- A notice of seeking possession is in force against the tenant or the proposed assignee under Grounds 1-6 of Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1985 or possession proceedings have begun against either party.
- The accommodation is substantially larger than is reasonably required by the proposed assignee.
- The extent of the accommodation is not reasonably suitable for the needs of the assignee and family.
- The accommodation is let to the tenant by reason of employment, or is mainly related to non-housing purposes.
- The landlord is a charity and the proposed assignee’s occupation would conflict with the objectives of the charity.
- The property is designed to make it suitable for a physically disabled person and if the exchange took place, no such person would be living in the property.
- The landlord is a housing association or housing trust which provides accommodation only for persons whose circumstances make it especially difficult for them to satisfy their housing needs and if the exchange took place there would be no such person living in the property.
- The property is one of a group of dwellings let to persons with special needs, and if the exchange took place there would be no such person living in the dwelling.
- The property is the subject of a special type of management agreement.
If Stafford and Rural Homes wishes to refuse consent for the mutual exchange on any of these grounds, you will receive a letter specifying the grounds and the reasons for it. If you disagree with the grounds for refusal, please let us know and we will deal with your issues using our Complaints policy.
What do I need to do to exchange my home?
- Find a tenant who may be interested in swapping homes with you
- Contact SARH Landlord Services Team to discuss it
- Ensure your rent account is up to date
- Complete a Mutual Exchange Application Form.
- Seek advice on any possible changes to your tenancy rights (where you are proposing to exchange homes with a customer of another Housing Association or Local Authority)
- Wait for SARH to inspect your property
- Wait for consent from SARH before moving
If you are proposing to exchange homes with someone who rents a home from a different Housing Association than Stafford and Rural Homes, please make sure they have obtained the consent of their landlord before completing an application form.