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Home > My home > My agreement > Tenancy information > Home swaps using mutual exchange

Home swaps using mutual exchange

Mutual exchange offers a quick and easy way to swap your home.

You can exchange your home with other Cottsway customers or residents from other housing associations and councils. This right is enjoyed by many social housing residents across the UK.


IMPORTANT! You must gain permission from us before you exchange your home. You must not move before the paperwork has been signed on the day of the exchange. If you do, you will be illegally occupying your home and both of you could lose your homes.

Only assured tenancy holders have the right to exchange. If you have a starter tenancy, you need to wait until it becomes assured before you can apply to exchange.

There are some reasons why we may not give permission for the exchange, so before applying please ensure:

  • You are not in any rent arrears.
  • You do not have a current court order for possession.
  • You have not been served a Notice of Seeking Possession.
  • You are not being investigated for anti-social behaviour.
  • Your house and garden are in good condition.
  • Your current property does not have any adaptations and is not part of a retirement or supported housing scheme.
  • You have the correct permissions in place for any alterations or improvements that been carried out to your property.
  • The property you wish to move into is the correct size for your current household (not too small or too large).

Please remember, these reasons to refuse an exchange also apply to the person you’re swapping with so both parties’ circumstances will be taken in consideration before an exchange is approved or refused.

If you are unsure about the type of tenancy you hold, or to check if you’re eligible to swap homes, please refer to your tenancy agreement or contact us

The legal reasons a landlord can refuse a swap are listed below. These will all be reviewed once you apply to mutually exchange. If we decide to refuse your application, we will contact you to let you know why.

Grounds for refusal

  1. There is a court order known as a Possession Order on the property.
  2. An eviction notice known as a Notice of Seeking Possession has been served and / or 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 a demotion order against them are in place or are being sought.
  3. The property is bigger than is needed by the family wishing to move into it.
  4. The property is not big enough for the family wishing to move into it.

     This ‘need’ is based on government rules, not simply whether you think you need more space. Use Directgov’s useful website to Calculate how many bedrooms you are eligible for

  5. The property is tied accommodation which means you live in a property which is provided by your employer.
  6. The property attracts a local connection and you do not meet the criteria. You need a local connection to the area and you have to prove you have lived, worked, have family connections or were born in the locality. Please ask us if you are unsure.
  7. The landlord is a charity and the proposed new tenants moving into the property would conflict with the objects of the charity.
  8. The property has special features that make it suitable for occupation by a physically disabled person who needs it and if the exchange took place there would no longer be such a person living in the property.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The property is the subject of a management agreement where the manager is a housing association and there are specific arrangements in place that the proposed new tenant is not willing to participate in.

It is up to you to find someone who would like to swap homes with you.

To make this as easy as possible, all Cottsway customers have free membership to Homeswapper, the UK’s leading mutual exchange service for social housing residents.

Through HomeSwapper you can exchange your home with someone living in:

  • A Cottsway home
  • Another housing association's home
  • A local authority home.

To search for potential swaps, register via: Homeswapper

Once you’ve found a home you're interested in, chat to the tenant and arrange a viewing.

Once you’ve registered with Homeswapper, create a profile for your home and describe what you're looking for. Add lots of details and photos to attract more potential swappers:

  • Include recent photos of your home and as many details as possible in your advert.
  • Be ready to answer any questions your potential exchange partner may have and feel free to ask questions you may have about their home and neighbourhood.
  • To avoid delays, make sure your rent account is not in arrears.
  • If there are any outstanding repairs that are required in your home, please report them to us: Request a routine repair
  • Be patient as rushing your mutual exchange partner may cause them to back out. Likewise, you should never feel pressured and if you do, please get in touch with us.
  • Consider all the moving costs, such as costs for van hire, removals, and decorations. (But do not book any removals until the heating check has been carried out - if this check fails the exchange will then be delayed. Cottsway cannot be held responsible for loss of removal costs).
  • Carry out your own research on the area you are looking to move to, perhaps by visiting at different times of day or checking the transport network connections/local amenities. If you have any questions, doubts, or concerns, please contact us for more information and advice.

Whether viewing someone else’s home or showing your own, we recommend that you take some basic precautions to ensure your safety: 

  • Try to arrange the viewing during daylight.
  • Try to avoid viewing or showing your own home alone - have a friend or relative with you. 
  • Tell someone when and where you’re going.
  • Have a mobile phone with you and make sure it is switched on and fully charged.

Once you have found someone to swap with and you both agree you want to swap, you will both need to complete the mutual exchange application form below separately. If the exchange is approved, you will also be asked to provide ID documents.

We'll need the name and address of the person you want to swap with and the details of their landlord.

The landlord(s) will run checks to make sure you both qualify for your new homes.

Assessing your application

Once we've received the application and supporting documents from both yourself and the person you want to swap with, we then have 42 days to review your application and make the decision to accept or refuse your application. Please note, this is not a date of exchange.

On the rare occasion we haven’t managed to make a decision within this timeframe, we will contact you to let you know.

During the 42-day review period the following will take place:

1. Initial checks carried out by relevant landlords including Cottsway
To ensure there are no legal grounds for refusal and your application can continue to be processed (see ‘What are the grounds for refusal’ above).

2. We, and/or your potential new landlord, will contact you and the person you’re hoping to exchange with.

This will include information on:

  • The exchange process.
  • What the balance owed on your current home will be should the exchange be approved.
  • Details about the rent at the property you’re wanting to move to.
  • The necessary financial checks to be carried out – including a request for relevant copies of bank and rent statements and, in applicable, proof of income and/or benefits.
  • Information about the property inspection process (see below).

3. References will be sought

  • Your current landlord will provide your character reference to your potential new landlord; and
  • Ask for a reference for the person you’re wanting to exchange with.

4. Property inspections

It is important that every person who exchanges views the property before they sign. Once you sign the Deed of Assignment you are accepting full responsibility for any repairs that were the current customers responsibility.

You will need to arrange a viewing at the property you’re wanting to move to with the current tenant:

  • To complete an inspection form and log any issues at the property you want to move in to.
  • Any repair issues identified should be reported by the current tenant and the landlord will confirm these have been logged. Please note, these repairs may not be made until after the exchange takes place.

5. Final decision

  • If we approve the exchange, we will notify the other landlord involved and await their decision.
  • If we both approve the exchange, we will arrange a date for the exchange to take place.
  • We will let you know as soon as possible once the exchange has been approved and confirm rent costs.
  • If you’re moving in to one of our homes, you will be asked to send us a copy of your photo ID as part of our anti-fraud policy.

Exchanges can fall through for many reasons and while this can be disheartening, it is important to remember there are valid reasons to pull out of an exchange, or to have it refused.

To protect yourself, don’t organise any major life changes, such as taking your children out of school or handing in your notice at work until the Deed of Assignment has been completed.

You have the legal right to pull out of an exchange at any point before the paperwork is signed. Even if you feel you may have let someone down, notifying who you’re exchanging with as soon as you can, will really help them moving forward.

Paperwork and payments

We will contact you to arrange a date to exchange and send you the Deed of Assignment form to sign.

The exchange is not completed until:

  • The rent in advance has been paid on the day of the exchange;
  • Electric and heating checks at the property have been satisfactorily completed; and
  • All the paperwork has been signed.

Electric and heating checks

While the electric check can be carried out in the few days before you exchange, the heating check must be done on the day of the exchange.

If these appointments are missed or the checks fail, the exchange will be delayed. Please do not book any removals vans until these have been completed. Cottsway cannot be held responsible for loss of removal costs.

Moving day

Once all of the above has been completed, you and the person you’re exchanging with, need to agree a date when you’re going to move into each other’s homes.

If your mutual exchange is refused, we will let you know why. You will then have the right to appeal this decision.

You will need to put in writing the reasons for your appeal and include any supporting information that you feel may help with your appeal. This needs to be sent to our Head of Housing who will look over your appeal and make a final decision. We will also let the other landlord involved aware of this decision.

Please note, due to data protection regulations we cannot tell you the reason for the declining the exchange if this is something to do with the person you’re exchanging with.

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