Mutual exchange

We know that where you want to live, and your circumstances can change over time.

If your housing needs have changed and you’re considering your options, there are a range of choices that could make this search a little easier and help you get moving.

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

Update on our mutual exchange service due to Covid-19

Following government guidelines released on 21 May 2020, we made the decision to re-open mutual exchange applications.

We’re using the government guidance on safe working and adapting our ways of working to make sure we keep you and our colleagues as safe as possible.

Find out more about how we’re keeping you safe via our coronavirus  service updates FAQs and latest coronavirus news updates.

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.

Why choose mutual exchange

Although an internal transfer may seem like the easiest option available, mutual exchange is quite often the quickest way to move. You can choose the type of home and area you wish to live in. All you have do is register with the relevant mutual exchange schemes, upload photos of your home and you’re ready to start your search.

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.

What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is when you ‘swap’ your home with another social housing customer. If you rent with us, you can swap with:

  • Another one of our customers
  • A council resident with a secure council tenancy or a flexible council tenancy
  • A resident of another housing association a housing association resident with an assured tenancy or an assured shorthold tenancy.

Who can mutual exchange?

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.

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 resident 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 customer and you’re not sure what kind of tenancy you have, please contact us. If you’re not a Catalyst customer, please check with your current landlord.

How to register and find a home swap

It is your responsibility to find someone you want to swap with. We are members of several mutual exchange schemes that will allow you to search their database of properties. You can register for free as a Catalyst customer 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 residents in a mutual exchange chain. But the more people and properties involved, the more complicated it can become.

All registration fees are paid for by Catalyst and no other fees should be charged for you to swap your home. It’s illegal for either of the residents to charge a fee as part of the tenancy exchange and you could be evicted, if you charge or receive any money to swap your home.

Deciding whether to exchange

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.

Things to consider before you proceed with a mutual exchange:

  • You take on the tenancy of the person you are exchanging with. Some tenancies with other councils and housing associations are now for a fixed term, whereas you may have a lifetime tenancy. You should check with the landlord on the type and length of tenancy you will be taking on and think very carefully about whether to proceed with the exchange if it’s not a lifetime tenancy
  • That the condition of the property you are hoping to exchange to is satisfactory to you
  • What repairs you are responsible for and if the outgoing occupier has carried out any improvements. If you’re moving to another one of our homes and there are non- standard items (such as an electric shower or shed) we will ask you to accept responsibility for these
  • The amount of rent due including any service charge
  • That you are aware of the tenancy conditions
  • The reason why the other tenant wants to move. This is important to find out and it is worth visiting the property at different times to learn more about the local area.

You’ve decided to exchange – what happens next?

Once you have found someone to swap with, you’ll need to complete a mutual exchange application form – contact us and we’ll send you a form.

The form consists of two parts. Part 1 is to be completed by you and Part 2 is to be completed by the exchange partner.

Both applicants need to sign a declaration, giving 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. We’ll make a decision within 6 weeks of receiving your completed application.

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
  • Check the condition of your property
  • Send a reference about you to the other landlord
  • Request a reference from the other landlord about the resident 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 home, 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

Things that need to be agreed before you move

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

If the exchange goes ahead, both residents 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.

When you move

This must be on a weekday (Monday to Friday) as on the day you leave your property we must undertake a gas (if you have gas) and electrical installation safety check.

Before the day of your move you must undertake the following:

  • Organise your removals, take utility meter readings and contact the utility companies (gas, electricity and water)
  • If you’re leaving gas or electrical appliances (such as a gas fire or electric cooker) in the property, they’ll need to have been connected by a qualified and approved engineer
  • If you’re removing gas or electrical appliances (such as a gas fire or electric cooker) from the property, they need to have been disconnected by a qualified and approved engineer

For gas you must use only Gas Safe qualified engineers and for electricity only NICEIC qualified engineers. This needs to have taken place prior to the safety checks we carry out, within 24 hours of your move.

If you have any questions about mutual exchange, please check our mutual exchange FAQs page or contact us for further help