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Mutual exchanges

A mutual exchange is a process which allows council tenants to exchange homes. If you would like to move home, this may be quicker and easier than applying for a transfer. Most council tenants have the right to exchange a home with another tenant or housing provider. You must get permission from us and from the other tenants landlord before you move but we will not refuse your request unless we have a good reason to do so.

If you wish to advertise your mutual exchange, you can do so on www.homeswapper.co.uk.

What to do once you find an exchange partner

If you find an exchange partner there is a set procedure that must be followed. Each partner should write to his or her own landlord who will arrange for the relevant forms to be completed.

We can send you a copy of this form by post, please call 01522 873333 or contact us online. Your housing officer will visit you to confirm details and answer any questions. This visit will usually take place within 15 working days of receiving your application.

Before the forms are filled in, both tenants must inspect each other’s properties and agree to accept the tenancy with the dwelling in its current condition. We will carry out routine repairs in accordance with the tenancy agreement but it will be the incoming tenant’s responsibility to repair any damage caused by the previous tenant.

Any issues such as tenancy changes or responsibility for alterations or repairs must be sorted out before we agree the exchange. When all the paperwork for each partner is complete we and any other landlord will make our decisions.

We have 42 days to send a response whether to allow or refuse consent. Where both rent accounts are clear and there are no other breaches of tenancy conditions and the property is suitable for the incoming tenant an exchange can be approved quite quickly. If the exchange is agreed you will need to sign a deed of assignment, which is a legal document transferring the tenancies to each other, at City Hall before you move. You must not make any arrangements to move until you have received our written consent.

Since an exchange is an assignment of tenancies, you take on responsibility for your exchange partner’s tenancy, including:

  • Tenant’s alterations: alterations made by previous tenants to the property usually become your responsibility. Check there are no outstanding hire purchase agreements
  • Rent arrears: both tenants’ accounts must be clear
  • Condition of the property: we will only do repairs for which we are responsible. Decorations, damage from the previous tenant, and items or rubbish do not count

Your housing officer may inspect alterations in your property to make sure they are safe and in reasonable condition before the exchange is agreed.

If you are unsure

The property checklist will help you find out what you may be taking on. If you are unsure about anything, check with us before signing it. Any arrangements you make with your exchange partner to sell or buy items are private. We will not be involved if there is any dispute. We would advise to confirm any agreement in writing to each other.

Other things to think about

Change of mind

We cannot accept responsibility or take any action if any exchange partners change their mind at any stage before moving.

Action for possession

We may begin an action for possession of your property if an exchange is agreed as a result of a tenant giving false information or if any payment has been made to persuade someone to exchange or if tenants move before our written consent is given.

Intention to live in the new property

Our consent is given on the understanding that all exchange partners intend to occupy their new properties. We may take legal action if we later find out that this is not so.


Our insurance policy only covers the structure of our homes so you ought to take out a policy to cover your own belongings and internal decorations. Make sure you are covered for any removal.

We have teamed up with insurance brokers Marsh and Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance plc to provide house contents cover under the umbrella of the Northern Housing Consortium. The ‘Simple Insurance’ tenants contents scheme offers affordable cover within the grasp of all tenants, including those who are in receipt of benefits and unemployed.

Why we might refuse an exchange

There are several reasons why we may refuse a request for an exchange. We can refuse an exchange as long as we let you know why within 42 days of a formal request.

There are, by law, eleven grounds on which the local authority can withhold or refuse consent to a mutual exchange:

  • Ground one - There is a possession order on the property
  • Ground two - A notice of seeking possession has been served
  • Ground two a - The tenant or any member of his household has behaved in an anti-social way and action including possession proceedings, injunctions, anti-social behaviour orders or demotion orders against them are in place or are being sought
  • Ground three - The property is bigger than is needed by the family wishing to move into it
  • Ground four - The property is not big enough for the family wishing to move into it
  • Ground five - The property is tied accommodation
  • Ground six - The landlord is a charity and the proposed new tenants moving into the property would conflict with the objects of the charity
  • Ground seven - The property has special features that make it suitable for occupation by a physically disabled person who need it and if the exchange took place there would no longer be such a person living in the property
  • Ground eight - The landlord is a housing association or housing trust that lets properties to particularly vulnerable people and if the exchange took place there would no longer be such a person living in the property
  • Ground nine - The property is supported housing for people with special needs and if the exchange took place there would no longer be such a person living in the property
  • Ground ten - The property is the subject of a management agreement where the manager is a housing association and there are specific arrangements in place in which the proposed new tenant is not willing to participate

If we consider that works done by you to your home would be unsafe for others to move in we will give you reasonable time to put this right before you move. Should you fail to do this then a notice of seeking possession will be served.

We can also impose a condition on your exchange, such as requiring you to pay off any rent arrears or to make good any damage to the property before you leave.