Mutual exchanges

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What is a mutual exchange

A mutual exchange is where a council or housing association tenant swaps their home with another tenant. It can be a good way to find a bigger or smaller home, or to move to another area. Mutual exchange is often the quickest way to move home, especially if you don’t have a high priority for a transfer.

Mutual exchanges are a voluntary arrangement between tenants, each accepting the property that they are moving into in the condition that it is left by the outgoing tenants. This includes accepting responsibility for tenant improvements, alterations and any damage or rubbish left behind.

You must have written permission from your Local Authority or Housing Association landlord before exchanging with another tenant. You should not make or accept any payment for exchanging. This is illegal and you could be prosecuted or evicted.

Read the current advice from the Government on moving during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Who can apply

Only secure tenants can apply, so if you have an introductory or demoted tenancy you will have to wait until it becomes secure.

How to find a mutual exchange

To apply for a mutual exchange you must first find a person to swap with. You can advertise in any way but it is recommended you use websites such as House Exchange

House Exchange is a UK service that helps people find exchange partners.

Visit House Exchange's website to register online and search for an exchange partner.

Search for a house button

It is very important that you visit the property before exchanging homes to make sure you are happy with the condition it is in. We will only carry our repairs that are our responsibility as the landlord.

Protecting your tenancy rights

You usually take on the tenancy of the tenant you swap with. Housing association and council tenancies offer similar levels of security. But there are important differences, such as succession to your tenancy if you die, and grounds for eviction. Always check what type of tenancy you are taking over.

If your tenancy began before 1 April 2012 and you want to swap with someone whose tenancy began on or after 1 April 2012, and is less secure than your own, you should ask your new landlord to grant you the most secure form of tenancy that it can.

Swapping could mean you will lose certain rights. Ask your landlord to fully explain what will happen when you swap. Alternatively, get independent advice.

How to apply

If you are an Ipswich Borough Council tenant you will need to complete the Council’s application for Mutual Exchange. If your landlord is not Ipswich Borough Council but you are swapping with an Ipswich Borough Council tenant you will also need to complete this application form.

Apply for mutual exchange button

What happens next?

If you are an Ipswich Borough Council tenant we will inspect your current home to check its condition. If you are responsible for any damage, like a broken window, you must carry out the repair before permission to swap is given. We will let you know in writing whether you can go ahead with the exchange. We must do this within 42 days of the request to swap properties.

The Council may refuse permission if:

  • We have taken steps to evict you
  • The property you want to move to is has disabled adaptations you don’t need or is otherwise unsuitable (eg it is too small or too big)
  • An injunction or other action to stop anti-social behaviour has been taken against you or anyone living with you.

If you have rent arrears, consent may be refused, or you might get permission on condition that you clear the arrears.

Don’t move until you have all the necessary permissions in writing and have signed the relevant documents.