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        Mutual Exchange FAQs

        Thanet District Council and East Kent Housing want to provide you with good quality information about how the mutual exchange process works. To help you we have put together a list of the questions that we are most often asked and the answers to these. If you want to move but haven’t found anyone to exchange with click on our ‘want to move’ icon on the East Kent Housing website and follow the links.

        What is a mutual exchange?

        A mutual exchange is where tenants swap homes and assign their tenancy to one another. Each tenant takes over the other tenant’s tenancy.  New tenancy agreements are not normally signed although there is an exception to this where the swap includes a secure tenant whose tenancy started before 1 April 2012 and a tenant with a fixed term or flexible tenancy.

        You must get permission from your landlord before you make any arrangements to move and not every tenant is entitled to mutual exchange homes.  The person you want to swap homes with must also have permission from their landlord.


        What is the difference between an ‘exchange’ and a ‘transfer’?

        Tenants sometimes ‘transfer’ to new homes.  This happens when they register on the housing register and bid for an empty home advertised through ‘Locata’.  Tenants who move through the mutual exchange system find another tenant to swap homes with.  You must have the permission of your landlord to do this.


        I am an Introductory tenant can I apply for a mutual exchange?

        No. Introductory tenants do not have a legal right to exchange. You must wait until you become a secure tenant.


        I am a secure tenant and I want to exchange with a tenant who has a flexible or fixed term tenancy?

        Special rules apply if your current tenancy started before 1 April 2012 and you want to exchange with a tenant who has a flexible or fixed term tenancy.  In these cases the exchange will normally be achieved by surrender and re-grant of new tenancies. This means that your tenancy will come to an end and you will be offered a new secure Tenancy of the property you are exchanging to.  The tenant you want to swap with will be offered a new flexible tenancy of your home.

        There are some groups of tenants who are excluded from these arrangements including tenants who have

        (a) an assured shorthold tenancy for a fixed term of less than two years,

        (b) a periodic assured shorthold tenancy,

        (c) an assured shorthold tenancy where the rent payable under the tenancy is—

        (i) Affordable Rent;

        (ii) Intermediate Rent;

        (iii) Mortgage Rescue rent;

        or (iv) shared ownership rent

        If you think that the person you want to swap with has a tenancy of this type contact Housing Options for advice.


        I am a secure tenant with a tenancy that started after 1 April 2012

        If you swap homes with a tenant who has a flexible or fixed term tenancy you will sign a deed of assignment and take their flexible or fixed term tenancy.


        Could taking part in a mutual exchange affect my tenancy rights?

        Yes it could. When you exchange homes you take the terms and conditions of tenancy that the person you swapped with has.  If you are a secure tenant and your tenancy started before 1 April 2012 when you swap with someone who has a flexible tenancy your tenancy will end and you will be offered a new secure tenancy.  Your new tenancy will start after 1 April 2012.

        This means that

        • If you move again you could lose your secure tenancy
        • Your family members (other than you spouse or partner) may no longer have the right to succeed to your tenancy if you die.

        If you think this could affect you please speak to your Neighbourhood Manager.


        I have rent arrears. Can I still exchange properties?

        You cannot exchange while you owe arrears of rent.


        I need to move urgently. Can I exchange and then get permission?

        No. If you do not get permission to exchange first then you and the person you swap with can be evicted and lose your homes.


        Can I exchange with a member of my family who is also a tenant?

        Yes, provided you meet the exchange criteria and the landlord agrees and gives permission for this.


        Can I move to another Local Authority or Housing Association property anywhere in the UK?

        Yes. You can swap with another Local Authority, Housing Association or Arms Length Management Organisation tenant as long as they have a secure or an assured tenancy. However, you will need written agreement from both landlords before the exchange can take place.


        Someone has offered me money to move. Should I take it?

        No. It is illegal to offer, or receive, money to carry out a mutual exchange. You and the other person could both be evicted and lose your homes.


        My home has had disabled adaptations. Can I exchange my home?

        Your landlord can refuse to allow an exchange where there have been substantial adaptations for a disabled person. If your home has been adapted we would need to carefully consider whether the person you are hoping to exchange with needs these adaptations. You should also consider carefully what adaptations you need as it may not be possible to provide these for the property you move to.


        How long does it take before I will get a decision on my exchange request?

        Your landlord has 42 days to process your request provided you and the person you want to exchange with have provided all the information needed.


        If I apply for an exchange, can I change my mind?

        Yes. You can withdraw at any time before you sign the ‘Deed of Assignment’. Once you have signed the deed you are no longer the tenant of your old property and cannot change your mind.


        What should I do before I decide to exchange?

        You should consider if you can afford the cost of moving home. This will include the cost of removals, new carpets, paying for disconnections and reconnections of cookers and possibly even new school uniforms if your children will need to change schools. If you are moving to a property that is larger than you have at the moment you must also be sure that your claim for housing benefit will cover the full amount of rent for that property.


        I have found a possible exchange but the property needs some repairs. Will EKH arrange these for me before I move in?

        Any emergency repairs should have been reported and completed before you exchange your home. Any repairs reported by the tenant who formerly lived at the address will be dealt with in line with the repairs contract timescales. They will not be speeded up because of the exchange. Any repairs that are the tenant’s responsibility will have been identified for you before you move in and will become your responsibility once you move in.


        I have a joint tenancy and the other joint tenant no longer lives at the address with me. Do both of us need to sign the application to apply for an Exchange?

        If your tenancy is in joint names the council must obtain the consent of the other joint tenant. All parties proposing the exchange must sign the application and Deed of Assignment. If this is going to be a problem you must speak to your Neighbourhood Manager.


        Will EKH help me pay my removal costs?

        No. You are responsible to make your own arrangements for your move and cover any cost of moving including hiring a removal van as well as the disconnection and reconnection of your appliances. You should carefully consider all costs before trying to find an exchange.


        If I move by exchange and I don’t like the new property will EKH help me move again?

        You are entitled to apply to the housing register from your new address and your application will be assessed in the same way as anyone else. Once registered you can bid for properties. However you must remember you may not have very high priority for a move and may not be able to bid successfully for an alternative property.  You should also remember that if you had a secure tenancy that started before 1 April 2012 and you exchanged with a flexible tenancy you will probably have been offered a new tenancy at the point of exchange.  This means that the new tenancy offered to you started AFTER 1 April 2012 and you might now be offered a flexible tenancy if you move again.  Make sure you read the question and answer at the end of this document.


        What can I do if my request to exchange is refused?

        If we refuse a request to exchange homes we will always give you a reason for this.  If you are unhappy with our explanation you should contact Housing Options to discuss this.


        If I don’t like the property can I move back to my old home?

        If the person you exchanged with is willing to swap back you can reapply for an exchange and provided this is agreed by your landlord the exchange could go ahead.   Remember though if you had a secure tenancy that started before 1 April 2012 and you swapped with a flexible tenant you will have been offered a new tenancy that started AFTER 1 April 2012.  This could mean that when you exchange back you are assigned a flexible tenancy.


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