Council and housing association tenants may be able to swap their home with another council or housing association tenant.
What is a tenancy exchange?
A tenancy exchange (also called a mutual exchange) allows you to swap your home with another council or housing association tenant anywhere in the UK.
Tenants arrange tenancy exchanges themselves, often with the help of tenancy exchange websites.
You must get permission to exchange your tenancy from your landlord and follow the proper process. You could be evicted if you try to exchange your tenancy without permission.
The tenant you are swapping with must also get permission from their landlord.
A tenancy exchange is different to a tenancy transfer, where your landlord transfers you to a new tenancy in another council or housing association property.
Who qualifies for a tenancy exchange?
To exchange tenancies in Wales, you must be:
- a secure council tenant, or
- a housing association tenant with an assured tenancy or a secure tenancy.
You can’t exchange tenancies if you:
- are a council tenant with an introductory tenancy or a demoted tenancy
- are a housing association tenant with a starter tenancy
- rent a bedsit or hostel room from the council
- rent your home from a private landlord.
How do I find a tenancy exchange?
Use a tenancy exchange website to help find another tenant to swap homes with, for example:
- House Swap Wales (helps tenants across Wales to swap homes using Facebook)
- House Exchange
Some sites charge a fee for registration. Ask your landlord if they have an arrangement that allows you to use a home swap website for free.
When you register online to use a tenancy exchange service you are asked details about your current home, the kind of home you’re looking for and where you want to live. Include photographs if you can.
Once you have registered, you can get details of properties, make contact with other tenants and arrange to view their homes.
When you find a suitable property and you and the other tenant are happy to swap, you must ask your landlord for permission to exchange. The person you want to swap with must do the same with their landlord.
Your landlord has six weeks to decide whether or not to give you permission to exchange your tenancy. If you get no decision within six weeks, get advice.
What rights do I have if I exchange my tenancy?
Before you agree to a tenancy exchange:
- check what type of tenancy you will be taking over in your new home. You may have different or fewer rights with your new tenancy, especially if the new home is in England where there are different types of tenancy
- check if repairs or redecoration is needed. When you exchange, you accept the property in the condition you find it
- find out how much rent you will pay
- don’t make or accept any payment for exchanging with the other tenant. This is illegal and you could be prosecuted and evicted.
Some tenancy exchanges must be transferred using a deed of assignment. This is a legal document that must be signed by an independent witness.
Get advice from a Shelter Cymru adviser before you swap your home if you are not sure of your rights.
Can a landlord refuse permission for a tenancy exchange?
Landlords can refuse permission for a tenancy exchange if there are reasonable grounds to do this.
Reasonable grounds for refusing a tenancy exchange may include:
- your landlord has started eviction proceedings
- an injunction or other action to stop antisocial behaviour has been taken against you or someone living with you
- you work for your landlord and your home was provided in connection with your job
- your home is adapted for a person with special requirements and nobody in the new tenant’s household has those requirements
- the home you want to move to is much larger than your household needs
- the home you want to move to is too small for your household and you would be overcrowded
- if you owe rent, your landlord may tell you that this must be paid off before you can exchange your home.
Get advice if your landlord doesn’t give you permission to exchange. An adviser may be able to negotiate with your landlord so the tenancy exchange can go ahead or can submit an appeal against the decision. It might be helpful to ask your landlord for a copy of their mutual exchange policy.