More information about the Mutual Exchange scheme
What is a mutual exchange?
A mutual exchange involves two tenants swapping properties with one another. An exchange can take place between any Housing Association or Local Authority (ie Council) tenants. If you rent your property from a private landlord you are not able to exchange.
Why do Kensington and Chelsea run a Mutual exchange scheme?
There are many people who wish to move either into or within Kensington and Chelsea and therefore the waiting list to be rehoused is very long. The Housing Options Department has been looking at different ways of helping people to move and the mutual exchange scheme has been set up to try and make the best use of housing in the borough. There are lots of people willing to swap homes in the Kensington and Chelsea area. Some want to move to bigger homes whilst others want to move to smaller properties, this scheme will therefore try and match people with properties.
What are the advantages of the scheme?
- You can exchange with another tenant inside or outside of the Borough.
- You can exchange with a tenant of a Housing Association.
- You may avoid a lengthy wait for a transfer.
- You can thoroughly inspect the other property and be sure that it is suitable for your family before seeking approval.
What are the disadvantages of the scheme?
- You have to accept the new property in its present condition.
- The other party can pull out at any time up until you move.
- Only essential repairs are undertaken by the Council within one year of the exchange.
- You will have to accept responsibility for alterations.
Who can apply?
Both secure and assured tenants have the right to exchange homes.
If I am eligible to apply what will prevent me exchanging with someone?
There are certain restrictions that apply if you want to add your property to the Mutual Exchange list. You will not be able to exchange your property if:
- There is a possession order in force against you.
- Possession proceedings have started against you or a Notice Seeking Possession has been served.
- The property you want to swap with is too big for your requirements. For example, you currently qualify for a one bedroom property but want to swap for a two bedroom property, but your circumstances haven't changed.
- The property is not mainly for housing services. For example, it is part of a commercial letting or comes as part of a job.
- The property has been specifically designed or adapted for you because of a physical disability and the person who wants to swap does not have the same needs.
- The property is one of a group let to people with special needs and the person who wants to swap does not have those needs.
When I find someone who wishes to swap what do we have to do?
When you have found another tenant and you are both happy with each other's property you need to ask permission from your respective landlords to exchange.
Landlords have 42 days from the date they receive your application to make a decision. They will need to check some details before the exchange is agreed:
- The size and type of property you wish to move to.
- That your rent account is clear and there is no possession order on your home.
- The condition of your home.
If the above checks are satisfactory and both landlords approve the exchange, they will write to you to say so. They may refuse the exchange if either tenant is in rent arrears or under notice to leave, but you have a right to appeal if this happens. Both you and the other tenant will need to sign documents. These are agreements to pass your tenancies to each other and to accept the terms and conditions of the tenancy. They are important documents and must be signed before you arrange to move.
A few words of caution
Finding out more about the home you want to move to
Once you have found someone you may want to swap homes with you should try to find out as much as you can about why they want to move and what is involved before you formally agree to swap. Housing staff will tell you what they know about the property and the area, but please remember that sometimes they do not know all the detail so it is up to you to find out.
Changes in rent and tenancy conditions
Different landlords offer different tenancy conditions and charge different rents. The rent you currently pay may be more or less than the rent of the person you are swapping with. You should check both rent and tenancy conditions with the new landlord before deciding to swap homes.
Repairs to your new home
The landlord will not usually redecorate between one person leaving and another moving in. Discuss any repairs with the landlord before you agree to swap. Do not rely on advice from the person moving out that the repairs will be done.