Swapping your home

Are there any reasons why you would not let me exchange?

Yes, the Housing Act 1985 states that a landlord can refuse a mutual exchange in the following circumstances.

  • If either tenant has received a ‘Notice of seeking possession’.
  • If either tenant has received a possession order or a postponed possession order.
  • If either tenant has started legal proceedings to end their tenancy.
  • If either tenant would be moving to a home that is not appropriate to their needs (for example, the property is too large or too small).
  • If one of the properties is not reasonably suited for the needs of the people who would move into it. For example, if the property is adapted for your medical needs and the person you want to swap with doesn’t need these adaptations.
  • If either tenancy is a service tenancy. For example, where property is provided with a job, such as to a school caretaker or onside warden.
  • If one of the landlords is a charity which has certain detailed conditions attached to the tenancy.
  • If either tenancy is provided by a housing association or trust to meet the specific needs of a tenant, and:
  • that tenant would find it very difficult to meet those specific needs in another property; and
  • the incoming tenant would not need this support or facility.

If:

  • either property is part of a group of properties for people with special needs;
  • the landlord provides a social or special facility within or close to the property to help the tenants live independently; and
  • the new tenant does not need these facilities.
Any tips for viewing a potential swap?

Remember to follow these simple rules on personal safety when inviting people into your home, or when visiting the home of someone you don’t know.

When arranging for people to view your home:

  • try to make sure other family members or friends are there with you; and
  • don’t leave valuables such as keys, handbags, mobile phones and so on in view.
  • When visiting somebody else’s home, take a friend or relative with you. If you can’t get anyone to go with you, tell somebody where you are going and what time you should be back.

Most people agree to an exchange based on where the property is and the number of bedrooms. However, here are a few other things you may want to think about.

  • Why do they want to move? Always ask why they want to move. You may find that there are problems in the area, such as antisocial behaviour, poor transport links and so on.
  • Ask about household bills, such as gas and electricity. How high are their bills and how does this compare with your current property? If it’s more, can you afford the extra payments?
  • Ask about any energy-saving measures such as loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and a water meter. These things could help make your bills more affordable.
  • Have they carried out any improvements or alterations? This is important as if anything goes wrong with them after you have swapped, you may be responsible for putting them right. You need to ask if their landlord gave them permission to make the improvements, and whether the work was done by a professional tradesman. Also check that the work looks like it is finished to a good standard.
  • Are there any repairs that need to be made? When you move into a property through a mutual exchange you take on the responsibility for the condition of the property as if you were the original tenant. This means that you will be responsible for any damage, poor decoration and clearing rubbish.  You should ask the landlord what their policy on repairs is and what repairs you would be responsible for.
  • What will they be leaving in the property, for example, light fittings, carpets, curtains, fitted wardrobes and so on? Don’t assume that these things will be left in the property. They may not be, and once you have swapped there is nothing you can do about it. So always ask.
  • Ask what the weekly rent is. Remember that housing-association rents are usually higher than council rents. Even if you get Housing Benefit, it may not cover the full rent at the new property. You can phone the Benefits Helpline on 01226 787787 or www.barnsley.gov.uk for more information.
  • Do not offer/accept money with someone that you want to swap with. This is illegal and you may be prosecuted.
I've found someone to swap with - what should I do now?

When you have found somebody who might like to swap with you, you should visit each other’s homes before you make a decision. This is something you should arrange yourselves.

Once you are happy to swap, you will both need to fill in a mutual exchange application form here.

What happens when I’ve completed my form?

Once we have received both forms, we will let you know if we agree to the exchange. We will do this within 42 days. You must not move to the other property until we have agreed to the swap.

If you are a Berneslai Homes tenant, your Housing Management Officer will inspect your home before your exchange is approved. If we find that the property needs any repairs which you are responsible for, you will have to make these repairs before we approve the exchange.

We will check the electrics in your property to make sure they are safe before we approve the exchange. We will also make sure that your annual gas-safety checks have been done. If they have not, we will not approve the exchange until the check has been carried out.

Other landlords may not carry out these checks, so we recommend you ask the other tenant for proof that these checks have been done before you agree to swap.

What happens once you have agreed to my exchange?

You need to agree a moving date with the person you are swapping with and your Housing Management Officer. Your Housing Management Officer will arrange a time and date for you to sign the paperwork to confirm your swap. You can then move into each other’s property.

Do I need to tell anyone when I'm moving?

You will need to let certain people and companies know you have moved. The following is a list to help you, but is a guide only.

  • Friends and family
  • Gas, electricity and water companies (take a meter reading on the day you leave the property)
  • Doctor and dentist
  • Phone providers (mobile and landline)
  • Digital TV providers (Sky, Virgin and so on)
  • Royal Mail (arrange for your post to be redirected
  • Schools
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • Your employer
  • Bank, card providers, loan companies
  • DVLA (for your driving licence and car registration)
  • Council’s Council Tax and Housing Benefit department.