Put simply, Mutual Exchange means swapping homes with another tenant. If you already rent a bpha home but have found that it no longer meets your needs, you can apply to switch with another tenant (with bpha or elsewhere) whose needs match those of your current home.
It’s much quicker than waiting for a traditional transfer and is especially popular with those wanting to downsize, or those who don’t qualify for a transfer through the conventional allocations process.
How does it work?
Find a suitable person to exchange with
Complete and submit your application forms with copies of your ID
Checks and inspections
Initial checks are done, the property are inspected and references exchanged.
Review and approval
If approved, you will receive a letter and be asked to get in touch to agree moving dates.
Sign and move in
Tenancies are exchanged and a date arranged for all parties to sign exchange paperwork and move in
Search for an exchange
To apply for a Mutual Exchange, you’ll first need to find someone to swap with. The easiest way to find potential exchange partners is through a website such as houseexchange.org.uk. You might also find someone on Gumtree or Facebook.
Mutual Exchange can be great but there a number of things to consider before making the decision to exchange on a home.
Is the tenancy suitable?
In most cases 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 is not a lifetime tenancy
Look at what type of tenancy you will have when you exchange. Not all tenancies are the same and some have fewer rights.
Is the property in good condition?
It’s important to check that the condition of the property you are hoping to exchange to is satisfactory to you and your family. Make sure you check or find out that the home you’re looking to move into is in a good state before moving forward with the exchange.
What repairs are you responsible for?
Always chat repairs you might be responsible for and if the outgoing occupier has carried out any improvements that need to be checked. See our Repairs & responsibilities section for more advice and information.
Is the rent affordable?
Is the amount of rent due, including any services charges, affordable? It’s likely that your rent, and other charges, will change a little when moving from one house to another, so please check and take this into account.
Have you checked the terms and conditions?
Make sure that you are aware of and understand any conditions of the tenancy you’ll be taking on.
Why are they moving?
It’s a good idea to look into 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.
Are you interested in buying the property?
If you’re looking to eventually buy the property, it’s a good idea to check that you’re able to. Many housing association’s homes cannot be bought by tenants.
Whether or not you can buy your property depends on the type of tenancy you have and when you initially obtained it.
If this is important to you, please seek advice from us for the property you are moving into. Please do not assume you have the right to purchase a property from us.
Have you thought about expenses?
It’s important to make sure that you can afford the removal expenses. If you are claiming Income Support or Universal Credit, you could qualify for a budgeting loan to help.
Am I eligible for mutual exchange?
If you’re looking to do a mutual exchange, you have to be a housing association or council tenant who holds a current secure, assured or fixed term tenancy. You must also have the right to exchange written into your tenancy agreement. Please check your tenancy agreement before moving forward.
If you have an Assured Shorthold Tenancy or are on an Intermediate Rent tenancy, you will notbe eligible to apply for mutual exchange. Please check your tenancy agreement to confirm whether you have the right to a mutual exchange.
Once you have found someone to swap with, a mutual exchange application form will need to completed and submitted by all exchanging applicants.
Send in mutual exchange application forms, copies of ID and completed income & expenditure form to bpha, via post, e-mail or in person. We will not be able to progress applications unless we have all of this information.
If you’re unable to download and print a form, please contact our customer services team on 0330 100 0272
Frequently asked questions
Who can I exchange with?
An eligible tenant who is either a bpha tenant, a tenant of another registered non-profit social housing provider or a local authority tenant.
How long does it take to make a decision on a mutual exchange application?
We will check your eligibility and make a decision within 42 days of receipt of a completed application form inclusive of all required documentation from all parties.
Are there different types of exchange?
Yes, mutual exchange takes place by either assignment or surrender and regrant and this is determined by the by the type of tenancy and when it was granted. It is important you understand what type of tenancy and rent level you will have if an exchange is successful as it may change.
Assignment – this is the swapping of tenancies at the same time as homes are exchanged. This is used when those exchanging homes hold tenancies with a similar security of tenure. The incoming tenant takes on all the rights and responsibilities and the tenancy agreement of the tenant they have swapped with.
Surrender and regrant – this is where tenants surrender their current tenancy and re-sign a tenancy with similar security of tenure for the property they have exchanged to, used when tenants exchanging hold tenancies with different security and one of the parties has their security protected by law.
Can my exchange be refused?
Your exchange request can be refused, however, for landlords to refuse a request to mutual exchange, they must have a very specific reason such as legal action.
The grounds (reasons) for refusing an exchange, listed in Schedule 3 of the Housing Act and Schedule 14 of the Localism Act, vary according to the tenancy types of the applicants.
Under occupying by more than 1 spare bedroom
If there are major aids and adaptations in a property that are required for the tenant or a member of the household
If a tenant has breached any terms of their tenancy, for example non-payment of rent or other housing debt or unsatisfactory property condition
Grounds to refuse a mutual exchange are listed in the mutual exchange policy which can be found here.
Please note if you fail any of the necessary checks bpha will refuse the mutual exchange. If the mutual exchange is deferred for a period of time, the 42 day deadline is placed on hold until the deferral has been removed.
What do I do if I am not happy my exchange has been refused?
You have the right to have the original decision reviewed and you have 14 days to request a review from the date on the decision letter. Your request for a review should be in writing and be either posted on e-mailed to bpha’s housing services team. The review will be carried out by a manager who did not make the original decision and the outcome of the review is the final decision and will be in writing.
Can I exchange without permission?
No, you must have your landlord’s permission and consent is required to exchange to/from a bpha property or tenancy.
What’s covered in the property inspection?
A surveyor’s inspection will be raised for any properties owned by bpha to ensure they have been maintained to a reasonable standard.
Any damage caused by the tenant or their household/visitors will need to be repaired prior to the mutual exchange being approved. This will be confirmed in writing to the bpha tenant. Once bpha have been notified that the repairs have been completed a Surveyor will then re-inspect the property.
Any non-standard items/property condition letters will also need to be signed by any incoming tenant before a sign-up date can be confirmed. We will also discuss the gas and electric checks as these will need to be completed for the new occupant.
I have just moved in but there are repairs that need to be carried out, what should I do?
It is your responsibility to check the property thoroughly before you agree with the exchange. You should agree with your exchange partner exactly what they will be leaving in their property and what decorating, repairs or cleaning they will do before they leave. This work will not be carried out by us.
It is important that you check your new home thoroughly before you move in. Look at everything including the inside of fitted cupboards and behind furniture if possible.
Once you move in you are responsible for the repair and maintenance of any alterations, fixtures or fittings made by the previous occupier and not by us. This often includes showers, fences, laminate flooring and kitchen fittings. We will recharge you for any repairs that are required as a result of damage or neglect.
We will undertake repairs which are in line with our repairs policy. If you are unsure or need clarification on any repair, please contact our Customer Services Team. If you are in doubt about whether to proceed with your mutual exchange application do not sign over your tenancy or move. Contact us for help and advice on 033 100 0272
What is covered by the references?
References for tenants are exchanged by landlords.
If you have a current notice of seeking possession, a court order, have poor property condition or have current arrears your mutual exchange will be refused.
If approved, when can I 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.
What is a conditional exchange?
A conditional exchange is where an exchange can be refused where permitted by law or may withhold consent until a condition is satisfied which can include the following:
Minor works which the tenant can rectify quickly
Minor rent arrears where the tenant can bring the rent account up to date quickly
If a tenant is in a probationary period
Where the is a Notice of Seeking Possession in place and there is less than six weeks before it due to expire
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