Mutual exchange

Mutual exchange allows tenants to swap homes anywhere in the UK. 

Update on our mutual exchange service due to coronavirus

Due to Covid-19, and following government advice, mutual exchanges have been paused since March 2020. On 13 May, the government announced that viewings and subsequent moves could recommence, providing that social distancing and safe working practices were followed.

Therefore, from 15 June, we’ll be accepting new applications for mutual exchanges.

We’ll contact you soon if you have already sent in your application form and give you an update. We’ll also restart the 42-day timescale for letting you know if your application has been successful. We’ll let you know what stage your application is at when we contact you.

While government restrictions on moving home have been eased, there are still measures that you need to take in order to move safely and minimise risk. Find out more on the government website.

Mutual exchanges

If you’re a Catalyst tenant, you may be able swap your home with another council or housing association tenant.  You must get our permission before you swap your home, and the person you wish to swap with must also get the permission of their landlord.  There are certain rules that apply, and not everyone will qualify.

Do I qualify?

You must have one of the following tenancy types:

  • an assured tenancy
  • a secure tenancy
  • an assured shorthold tenancy with a fixed term of more than two years.

The person you wish to swap with must be:

  • a council tenant with a secure council tenancy or a flexible council tenancy
  • a housing association tenant with an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy.

You can’t usually exchange tenancies if you:

  • have a starter or introductory tenancy
  • have been to court and your tenancy has been demoted or a possession order has been made
  • are a housing association tenant with an assured shorthold tenancy with a fixed term of less than two years
  • rent from a private a landlord
  • are a shared owner or leaseholder.

If you are a Catalyst tenant and you’re not sure what kind of tenancy you have, please call us. If you’re not a Catalyst tenant, please check with your landlord.

Can permission be refused?

We will only refuse permission for a mutual exchange if there are reasonable grounds for doing so. As a landlord, we’re allowed to consider the circumstances of both swapping partners when deciding to give or withhold consent. You may be refused if, for example, either you or your swapping partner has:

  • rent arrears
  • breached the tenancy e.g. through committing anti social behaviour
  • a home which is adapted for a person with special needs and nobody in the exchange household has special needs
  • a home which is too large or too small for the household you want to swap with
  • received a notice seeking possession or possession proceedings have begun.

Both landlords need to give consent before the exchange can go ahead. Your exchange partner will need to apply to their landlord for permission too.

Finding someone to swap with

It is your responsibility to find someone you want to swap with. Catalyst will not do this for you. However, Catalyst is a full member of several mutual exchange schemes which allow you to search their database of properties. You can register for free as a Catalyst tenant with the following:

If you can’t find just one person to swap with, you may want to think about a three way exchange. There is no limit to the number of tenants in a mutual exchange chain. But the more people and properties involved, the more complicated it can become.

Although you may have to pay a fee to register on some homeswap websites, no other fees should be charged for you to swap your home. It is illegal for either of the tenants 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.

What happens next?

Once you have found someone to swap with, you’ll need to complete a mutual exchange application form – call us and we’ll send you a form. The form consists of two parts. Part 1 is to be completed by our tenant and Part 2 is to be completed by the exchange partner. Both applicants need to sign a declaration to give us permission to share information relevant to exchange with the other landlord. See our Privacy Policy for details on how we handle your information, including sensitive data. If you have any concerns about sharing information, please discuss it with us.

Where there is a joint tenancy, both joint tenants must consent to the exchange. They must also both sign the declaration on the application form. If the exchange goes ahead, both joint tenants will need to sign the documentation to swap with the exchange partner. Once we receive the completed application, we will make a decision within 42 calendar days.

During that time we will:

  • check whether your tenancy type allows you to carry out a mutual exchange
  • check whether you have any rent arrears
  • check whether you have breached your tenancy e.g. through anti-social behaviour
  • send a reference about you to the other landlord
  • request a reference from the other landlord about the tenant you wish to swap with
  • check if your home is a suitable size for the household you wish to swap with
  • advise you and the person you wish to swap with about the tenancy type and rent level you should expect if the exchange goes ahead
  • inspect your property, ideally with your exchange partner present
  • make a decision whether to accept or refuse your application
  • let you know in writing the outcome of your application

You must not move until you are given written consent by both landlords.

It’s your responsibility to check with your future landlord exactly what you would receive if the move goes ahead. This is very important as your tenancy type and rent level may be different to those you have now. You may gain or lose certain rights such as the right to buy or the right to acquire.

If the exchange goes ahead, both tenants will accept the condition of the properties as they are. This is why we invite your exchange partner to be there when we inspect your home. We’re responsible for certain repairs but not for the upkeep of improvements you have made yourself. You’ll also need to speak to your future landlord about repairs you may be responsible for in your exchange partner’s home.

If the exchange is approved by both landlords, we’ll arrange a time for you to fill in the necessary documents. In most cases, mutual exchange is carried out by assignment. This is the term for the legal transfer of a tenancy to someone else. However in some cases for the exchange to take place, you will need to surrender your current tenancy and be granted a new tenancy with the new landlord. We will explain more about this if the move goes ahead.

If you have any questions about mutual exchange, call us.