Housing options/schemes

Mobility Transfer Scheme

What is it?

This scheme helps to make sure that the people living in ground floor properties are the people who need them most. Some people who do not have mobility problems live in ground floor properties in sought after areas. These properties would be suitable for tenants who desperately need to be on the ground floor. Other households may be in ground floor properties and very overcrowded, but have low points on the Housing Register making it difficult to move.

Who is eligible?

Anyone who has a property:

  • with a ground floor entrance
  • with no steps either inside or outside (in line with the category given to the property on the Council's Accessible Housing Register)
  • with at least one bedroom (studio flats cannot be accepted).

You must not have a medical need for a ground floor property.

How it works

If you would like to move to a higher floor level, to a property of the same size you may be entitled to:

  •  high points on the housing register and priority to move
  • a cash incentive
  •  help with removals.

If you are severely overcrowded and need a larger property you will be eligible for this scheme and will be given high priority to move. You will not be entitled to any cash incentive for moving but you may receive help with removal costs.

How to find out more

In person:

Customer Service Centre
The Town Hall
Hornton Street
London
W8 7NX

Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm

By phone:

Housing Opportunities Team 020 7361 3272

By email:

housingopportunities@rbkc.gov.uk

HomeStart Scheme

What is it?

The HomeStart Scheme helps people to move out of London. As all the social housing outside of London will be allocated to tenants already living in those areas, the scheme helps people to move into private rented accommodation in other parts of the country that they might have a connection with. The scheme could help you to move closer to friends or family who do not live in the area. It allows you to pick the area you want to live in and perhaps move to a larger property, with a garden – something that you would never be offered in Kensington and Chelsea. You could also move out of London to somewhere quieter and less crowded. Living costs in other parts of the country can be less than in London.

Who is eligible?

  •  Council and housing association tenants
  •  Severely overcrowded households (lacking two bedrooms)

How it works

Through the HomeStart Scheme, you may be offered:

  • train tickets to view properties (you must be already known to the Council's Housing Opportunities Team to be eligible for this, you can ask us for more information)
  • a tenancy in the private housing sector for a minimum of 12 months which could carry on if the landlord is happy with you as a tenant and you are happy to stay there
  • rent in advance, and a deposit which is yours to put down on another property if you want to move on
  • help with removals to your new home.

Things to consider

You must be sure that you want to re-locate. If you change your mind you are very unlikely to have the opportunity to move back to social housing in Kensington and Chelsea.

How to find out more

In person:

Customer Service Centre
The Town Hall
Hornton Street
London
W8 7NX
Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm

By phone:

Housing Opportunities Team 020 7361 3272

By email:

housingopportunities@rbkc.gov.uk

Moving to the sea

What is it?

The Seaside and Country Homes Scheme is a housing mobility scheme. It offers older people the opportunity to move out of London into sheltered or retirement housing. The scheme’s landlords manage around 3,500 bungalows and flats along the south west coast from Cornwall, through the countryside from Shropshire to Cambridgeshire over to Norfolk and Lincolnshire in the East.

Who is eligible?

The scheme is open to households living in council or housing association housing in Greater London, where at least one member of the household is aged 60 or above. If the other members of the household are under 60 years old they must be either the partner, joint tenant or registered carer of the lead applicant. Priority is given to applicants who would be moving out of larger sized properties.

How it works

The scheme is run by the Mayor of London's Housing Mobility Team. You can contact the team directly, or you can contact the Council’s Housing Opportunities Team who will help you with your application. If there are not any properties available via this scheme in the area you wish to move to, we may be able to refer you to other housing associations that can help.

How to find out more

By email:

housingopportunities@rbkc.gov.uk

To contact the scheme directly, call 08450 21 20 20 or email housingmobility@london.gov.uk.

A comprehensive guide to the Scheme is also available on the website.

Mutual Exchange Scheme

What is it?

This scheme is for people who are already housing association or Council tenants and want to swap their property with another tenant. This could be because they want a larger or smaller property or wish to move to another area.

Who is eligible?

Most people with a social tenancy in their name who do not have any rent arrears or a history of antisocial behaviour. If you are unsure whether you are eligible, check with your landlord.

How it works

The Council pays an annual subscription to a nationwide exchange schemes called Homeswapper. This means it is free for our tenants to register. You should check with your landlord, if it not the Council, to see if they subscribe otherwise there is a monthly fee. 

To register go to HomeSwapper.

Information you should read before registering

If you are considering exchanging your property with another tenant you will need to find out their type of tenancy and rent level.

Exchanges on new tenancies

The Localism Act means that different types of tenancies can now be given for council or housing association properties. If your tenancy was issued on or after 1 April 2012, or you are considering exchanging with someone whose tenancy was issued on or after 1 April 2012, please speak to your landlord. This is because tenancies offered on or after this date are different from tenancies issued before and it is important that you understand the possible implications of making a mutual exchange.

It is important when you are making decisions about exchanging a property that you consider:

  • if it is an Affordable Rent home (see below)
  • whether you can afford the rent levels
  • what the length of the tenancy will be

If you are unsure, seek independent advice before you move.

Affordable Rents

Due to changes made by Government, housing associations are now allowed to offer some tenancies at higher rents to new tenants. These rents could be up to 80 per cent of a market rent. Market rent means the average rent in the area that someone would pay if they were renting the property from a private landlord.

This is called "Affordable Rent". Housing associations are able to charge the Affordable Rent on new build homes and also allowed to let some of their existing properties to new tenants on Affordable Rents. Many housing associations will try to keep rents on larger homes (three bedrooms or more) closer to social rents.

FAQs

 

1. What are mutual exchanges?

Quick answer: An exchange of homes between two households living in social housing.

Within the United Kingdom, Council and housing association secure and assured tenants have the right to exchange their homes to homes suitable for them and their families. You will need written permission from your landlords before you can exchange.

 

2. How long do exchanges take?

Quick answer: 42 days or less

It depends on your exchange, how many parties are involved and whether you are moving long distance or moving within the local area. It can take up to 42 days from the day all parties involved hand in their mutual exchange forms, to their landlords agreeing the exchange and giving them permission to move.

 

3. Can an exchange be refused?

Quick answer: Yes
 
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 exchange to is too big for your requirements. For example, if you currently qualify for a one bedroom property and want to swap to a two bedroom property, but your circumstances have not changed
  • the property is not used 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 you want to swap with does not have the same needs
  • the property is one of a group let to people with special needs and the person who you want to swap with does not have those needs. 

Full details can be obtained from your landlord.

 

4. If I have rent arrears can I still exchange?

Quick Answer: No

Tenants must pay all of their rent including any arrears before a mutual exchange can be permitted.

 

5. Is there any cost in an exchange?

Quick Answer: Yes and No

There is no charge for paperwork completion.
Your council or housing association landlord will not charge you for processing your mutual exchange application forms.
Removal costs will not be covered.
However they will not pay for your removal expenses.

 

6. Are there advantages to doing a mutual exchange?

Quick Answer: Yes and No
The advantages of mutual exchange, are:
  • you can exchange with another tenant inside or outside of the borough
  • you can exchange with a housing association tenant
  • you may avoid a lengthy wait for a transfer
  • you can thoroughly inspect the other property and be sure it is suitable for your family before seeking approval.

There are also some disadvantages:

  • you have to accept the property in its present condition
  • the other party can pull out at any time, right up until you move
  • only essential repairs will be undertaken by the Council or housing association within one year of the exchange
  • you will have to accept responsibility for alterations.

 

7. Can I encourage an exchange by paying someone?

Quick Answer: No

Do not offer any cash incentives in return for an exchange. It is illegal and you and your family could be evicted from your property by the Council or housing association.

 

8. Can I encourage an exchange using presents or goods?

Quick Answer: No

Do not offer any rewards in return for an exchange. It is illegal and you and your family could be evicted from your property by the Council or housing association.

 

9. Will my landlord pay for any expenses for removals?

Quick Answer: No

You will need to arrange to pay for your own removal expenses. The cheapest option for families on a low income is self-drive 7.5 ton lorries which can be driven on a full UK driving licence which you must have held for a minimum of 12 months.

 

10. I don’t drive, will transport be provided?

Quick Answer: No

You will need to arrange transport for you and your family to get to your new location. You could ask friends, family, volunteer groups or use public transport.

 

11. Can I move on any day of the week?

Quick Answer: Yes

You can move on any day once you have been given a date by the landlords. It must be in agreement with the other tenants involved and the date should not be altered once agreed.

 

12. Will I be provided with boxes and packing tape for any move?

Quick Answer: No

You are expected to pay all costs incurred by you and your family to move to your new home. You can buy strong packing boxes online or from high street shops, or ask local shops to save boxes for you as a free alternative. Join freecycle online sites and request them.

 

13. Will the new landlord decorate or repair the home before I move in?

Quick Answer: No

The landlord will not usually decorate between one person leaving and another moving in. You will have to arrange to decorate the home yourself as you have made an agreement to accept the property in the condition you viewed it in. Discuss any repairs with the landlord before you agree to exchange. Do not rely on advice from the person moving out that the repairs will be done.

 

14. Can I swap back if I don’t like living in my new home?

Quick answer: You may be able to.

You cannot swap back into your old home unless the tenant who swapped with you is in agreement, you will then both have to start the exchange process again from scratch and wait for a decision from both landlords.

 

Creating your advert

Planning

When creating your advert be careful to plan what you want to say and prepare any pictures beforehand so that you can get the best possible results. Take care to gather the necessary information for each aspect of the property so you have it to hand when creating your showpiece advert.

Photos

Ensure you have good quality photos of your property that are not more than 1MB in size. Before you take the photographs, you may want to tidy the rooms and ensure that no clutter can be seen. You may want to try and take the photographs when it is sunny so that your home looks at its best. Think of short, meaningful captions for each photograph, such as "Bedroom 1".

Advert contents

Make sure all of the details within the advert are correct and that the explanations and statements are true. Potential "exchangers" are relying on your information to give them a very clear picture of your property in their minds. Remember, first impressions are crucial.

Description of your property and area

Provide as much information about your property as you can. Think about all the positive benefits of your home, the size of the property, the features it has, and what you like about it.

You will also need to explain the area in detail, as you may have people looking at your property who do not know the area very well. Again mention the positives, for example, five minutes from a train station that takes you into central London within 15 minutes, living 15 minutes away from Europe’s largest shopping mall.

The more information you provide, the more interest you will receive from other home seekers.

Update advert details

If you think of new things to add to your advert you should update the advert. If you have new photos of different rooms you should add or change the ones you have and try to keep it fresh for new exchangers coming onto the system.

 

How to find out more

In person:

Customer Service Centre
The Town Hall
Hornton Street
London W8 7NX
Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm

By phone:

Housing Opportunities Team 020 7361 3272

By email:

housingopportunities@rbkc.gov.uk

Under-occupation Scheme

What is it?

If you have spare bedrooms in your property, which you no longer need, the Under-occupation Scheme could help you with a move.

Who is eligible?

Anyone who lives in either a Council or housing association property who wishes to move to downsize (move to a smaller property).

What are the benefits of downsizing?

  • You will be paying lower rent.
  • You will be paying lower bills, such as council tax charges, gas and electricity.
  • A smaller home will be more manageable and need less housework.
  • You may wish to move to another area in the borough but have not been able to do so, due to the expense of moving and low points awarded on the housing register.

How it works

If you qualify as an under-occupier you may receive the following:

  • high points and priority on the housing register to move
  • a dedicated officer to oversee the move
  • help with arranging your removals
  • connections and disconnection of appliances
  • a cash incentive (depending on how many bedrooms you are freeing up)
  • help with decorations at your new property (the cost of this will be deducted from any cash incentive you receive).

If you are in a large property and have an adult child living with you, we could consider offering you two properties in exchange for your larger one as long as you are freeing up a bedroom.

Some housing associations have their own Under-occupation Scheme, but by joining our scheme too, you are open to all housing association properties as well as Council properties. This gives you a broader choice of both properties and areas to choose from, as well as getting all the benefits.

How to find out more

In person:

Customer Service Centre
The Town Hall
Hornton Street
London W8 7NX

Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm

By phone:
Housing Opportunities Team 020 7361 3272

By email:
housingopportunities@rbkc.gov.uk

Housing options for old people

For many older people, staying in their home is their key priority. There are a number of support services to help older residents to maintain their independence. It may also be possible to make adaptations to your home, so you can continue to live there. For more information, visit the Staying in your own home pages on the People First website. People First is for residents in Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster. It has information on a wide range of subjects to help people to live independently.

If you own your home, equity release could be a way to release money from your home without having to move. This could help to pay for repairs or adaptations to your property, or for care and support.

If you currently live in social housing (renting from the Council or a housing association) and wish to move, the Council runs a number of schemes to help you.  If you have spare bedrooms in your property which you no longer need and would like to move to somewhere smaller and easier to manage, the Under-occupation scheme could help you.

The Seaside and Country Homes scheme helps older people to move out of London into sheltered or retirement housing.

Sheltered housing

Sheltered housing consists of self-contained flats within buildings that provide a safe and secure environment for older people. It allows you to have your own home, while benefiting from the reassurance of staff on site during working hours. Most schemes have communal lounge areas and gardens and some organise activities for residents.

In Kensington and Chelsea sheltered housing is available to rent from the Council and a number of registered social landlords. It is available for people aged 60 years and over (or 55 years and disabled). If you are still working, there may be restrictions about the number of hours you can work to qualify for sheltered housing.

The demand for sheltered housing is high. How long you wait depends on your priority for housing and how flexible you are about which schemes you will consider.

If you are interested in sheltered accommodation and would like to find out how to apply, contact the Housing Opportunities Team on 020 7361 3008.

You can also download a copy of our booklet which provides details of the schemes in the borough:

Sheltered housing in Kensington and Chelsea [PDF] (file size 1.59 MB)

Extra care housing

Extra care housing is a specialist form of housing for older people. Residents live in their own flats but have access to care and support services on site 24 hours a day, if they need it. This means extra care housing can accommodate people with a range of needs, including those who would otherwise live in residential care. Extra care housing schemes can feature communal spaces for residents, for example activity rooms, a hairdressing salon or restaurant, and can offer properties either for purchase (private) or for rent from the Council or a Housing Association (affordable). You can find more information about extra care housing on the People First website.

More information on options for older people