House exchange is a website designed to bring people together who are looking to swap their homes. Using the site is easy and free. Simply visit http://broadland.houseexchange.org.uk and complete your details online. Once you’ve registered and your details have been approved, your property will appear in our database. You’ll be able to search for a specific property; for people who want your property; a match both ways or a three-way search.
Since the introduction of Government welfare reforms in April 2013, many tenants have contacted us to ask for more information about mutual exchange. The introduction of a ‘Bedroom Tax’ has meant some tenants whose housing benefit has been reduced are looking to downsize to a smaller property.
With demand for one and two bedroom properties increasing, mutual exchange can also benefit households wanting to move to a larger property.
What is a mutual exchange?
A mutual exchange is a house swap between council and housing association tenants.
In order to be eligible for an exchange all tenants involved must have an Assured or Secure Tenancy. This means that tenants who are in temporary accommodation on a Licence Agreement or in supported accommodation on a Shorthold tenancy are not able to exchange their tenancy.
How do I start?
It is your responsibility to find a person to exchange with, using websites such as http://www.houseexchange.org.uk or through advertisements in newspapers and shops.
It is also your responsibility to ensure that the property you are exchanging into is clean and maintained to a reasonable standard. In completing the exchange of tenancies, the tenants are agreeing to take the property in its current condition. The landlord has a responsibility to ensure that the property being exchanged is safe, therefore compliant with gas and electrical safety standards.
How to get things moving:
- To find a mutual exchange partner you need to either register on the House exchange website http://broadland.houseexchange.org.uk or find somebody privately. All tenants with an assured or secure tenancy will be able to register for the House Exchange website.
- Once you have found somebody to exchange with, you need to complete an Application for Mutual Exchange and submit these to your local Broadland Housing area office.
- The completed application will be passed to your Neighbourhood Officer for approval.
- A Mutual exchange can be refused at this stage, for a number of reasons, with the most common being because of rent arrears; because a notice has been issued on your tenancy or because the property is not suitable for the tenants needs. We will contact the other landlords involved in the exchange to request a tenancy reference, this is to help us make an informed decision as to whether we will proceed with the mutual exchange, as this will highlight any previous rent arrears or anti social behaviour with the your exchange partner.
- We have 42 days to assess your application for a Mutual Exchange and approve. This process includes an interview of the prospective tenant with a full needs and risk; and income and expenditure assessment completed. Your property will also need to be inspected.
- Once Broadland Housing is satisfied with all of the above we will then contact all parties involved to decide a date to move. A Deed of Assignment will be raised which transfers the tenancy agreement between exchanging tenants, both the incoming and outgoing tenant will need to sign this. This signing needs to be done in person either at one of the properties or at an area office.
Important information you need to know:
The property inspection The reason we carry out an inspection of your property is to ensure that it is in good condition. Should the inspection identify any damage which has been caused intentionally or neglectfully, the existing tenants are given the chance to repair the damage to an acceptable standard. If the damage is not repaired within the agreed timescales a Notice of Intention to Seek Possession will be issued, this could prevent an exchange from being completed.
The interview We interview all incoming tenants as part of our Allocations Policy, we like to meet our new tenants and explain the terms and conditions of their new tenancy with them. It is also an opportunity to discuss the rent, service charges and whether the rent is affordable i.e. if our new tenants work or claim benefits, we can then discuss the ways rent can be paid.
Gas and electric tests BHG are currently the only landlord who do not charge tenants for a gas and electric test, these have to be carried out by law, and once the new tenant has moved in we shall contact them to arrange for these tests to be carried out.
For more information Should you wish to discuss a mutual exchange or require any further information about this, please contact our Customer Services Team on 0303 303 0003 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, feel free to drop in to your nearest Broadland Housing Office to discuss your options with a member of the Frontline Housing Team.