Exchanging your home

You can swap your home with another council or housing association tenant anywhere else in the country, provided your landlord agrees. This is known as a mutual exchange. Both partners in the exchange, however, need to get authorisation from their respective landlords for the exchange to go ahead.

Mutual exchange:

  • provides a broader range of choices about the size, type, and location of your home
  • gives you the opportunity to find a home that is suitable for your family's needs
  • can help reduce the cost of living if you consider moving out of London

For general tips about moving home, see our Moving home guide (pdf 872kb)

How do I arrange a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange can be arranged independently. There is no formal application process if you do it this way. Both applicants’ landlords will need to give their approval. You should contact your landlord directly for more information. You can also take advantage of the service offered by the Homeswapper website.

Homeswapper is an independent national database of people who want to swap their home. If you are living in permanent, self-contained accommodation and renting from any council or housing association, and you want to move within the UK, then you can register on Homeswapper. As Homeswapper is an internet-based scheme you will need to register online. Visit www.homeswapper.co.uk to find out more. It's free for Hammersmith & Fulham Council tenants.

If you are a council tenant and need help, please contact your local area housing office or read our guide Mutual Exchange – A guide for Hammersmith & Fulham council tenants (pdf 3MB).

Housing association or other registered social landlord tenants should contact their landlord for help.

How Homeswapper works

Once you have registered with Homeswapper, you can search households interested in moving to your area, and look for households wanting to move from an area you would like to move to. You will also receive texts or emails to tell you about suitable matches.

Who is eligible for Homeswapper?

Anyone living in council or housing association accommodation can exchange their home subject to approval from both landlords. Tenants of private landlords, homeowners and people living in shared ownership properties do not qualify for the Homeswapper scheme.

Arranging a viewing

If you are interested in one another's properties, arrange a time to view. Do not call at the address unless you have made an arrangement to do so. It may not be a convenient time to call, or the other party may not be at home.

Important things to remember

  • There is no guarantee that you will find a suitable swap partner, but if you can be flexible about the area(s) and type of property you want, it will increase your chances of success.
  • Both partners in any exchange must have the permission from their landlord.
  • Make sure you know what type of tenancy you will be taking on as there are differences between local authority and housing association tenancies. Your landlord will be able to advise you on this.
  • Most secure tenants have a legal right to exchange. Assured tenants have the right to exchange if it is written into their tenancy agreement. Tenancies are best swapped by a ‘deed of assignment’ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. New tenancies are usually granted in Scotland but it is important that you get advice from your housing officer as the law in Scotland is different.
  • Permission can be refused for a limited number of reasons. If you think permission has been unreasonably refused you should seek advice.
  • If you give or receive money or goods to secure an exchange, you may be liable to eviction and/or in some circumstances a fine.
  • Before you agree to exchange, check with your new landlord what your rent and conditions of tenancy will be.
  • If repairs are required check that they will be carried out. Redecoration will not normally be done by the landlord.
  • If you are interested in eventually buying the property, check that you will be able to do so. Many housing association homes cannot be bought by tenants.
  • Make sure you can afford the moving expenses. If you are claiming income support, you might qualify for some help in the form of a social fund loan.
  • Try to keep your expenses to an absolute minimum before moving, there is no legal redress if your swap partner withdraws from an exchange at any time.
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