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A tenancy exchange is when you swap your home legally with another council or housing association tenant. It is often called a mutual exchange.

Who can exchange their tenancyYour rights when you exchangeHow to find a tenancy exchangeAsk your landlord for permissionIf your landlord refuses permission

Who can exchange their tenancy

You can usually exchange homes with your landlord’s written permission if you have a:

  • secure council tenancy
  • flexible (fixed-term) council tenancy
  • fully assured housing association tenancy
  • secure housing association tenancy
  • assured shorthold tenancy with a housing association - only fixed-term assured shorthold tenancies of at least 2 years

Please note – you cannot exchange a starter tenancy or demoted tenancy.

Your rights when you exchange

If you have a secure or assured tenancy which began before 1 April 2012 and you swap with a fixed term council or housing association tenant, you should get another lifetime tenancy.

If you have a secure or assured tenancy which began on or after 1 April 2012 and you swap with a fixed term council or housing association tenant, you could lose your lifetime tenancy.

How to find a tenancy exchange

Use a tenancy exchange website to help find another tenant to swap with. For example:

It’s free to register with some sites but others charge a fee.

When you register, you are asked about your current home, the kind of home you’re looking for and where you want to live.

When you register, you can get details of properties, and make contact with other tenants and arrange to view their homes.

It is illegal for you or the other tenant to charge a fee as part of the tenancy exchange. You could be evicted if you charge or receive any money to swap your home.

Ask your landlord for permission

Ask your landlord for permission to exchange when you find a tenant who is happy to swap. You must get permission and follow the proper process. The tenant you are swapping with must also get permission from their landlord.

Put your requests for a swap in writing. Your landlord has 6 weeks to respond in writing. You could be evicted if you try to exchange your tenancy without permission.

If your landlord refuses permission

Councils and housing associations can only refuse permission for an exchange on legal grounds, including if:

  • you are being evicted
  • you work for your landlord and your home comes with your job
  • your home is adapted for a person with special needs and nobody in the new tenant’s household has those needs
  • the home you want to move to is larger than you need
  • the home you want to move to is too small and your household would be overcrowded

Your landlord must write to you within 6 weeks explaining their reasons if they refuse permission for the exchange. If they miss this deadline, they cannot legally refuse permission for the exchange, but you must still get their written consent before you swap homes.

You may need to go to court to force your landlord to give consent. Landlords usually insist that rent arrears are cleared before an exchange goes ahead. They can add this condition after the 6-week deadline for a response.

Last reviewed: March 11, 2024 by Ian

Next review due: September 11, 2024

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