You’ve spent loads of time on HomeSwapper, probably done plenty of viewings, and you’ve finally found a swap… so what happens next?
All tenants are required to complete a mutual exchange form. Ask your landlord for details. It’s usually a paper form rather than one you can fill in online and it asks for details about your home and the tenant you want to swap with. Once you’ve filled it in, return the completed form to your landlord.
Your landlord then has a maximum of 42 days from receiving your form to tell you in writing whether your application has been approved or refused. Some landlords have their own timelines – such as 28 days – but it will never be more than 42 days.
Things you need to check
You must make sure you check the rent amount of your new home and the type of tenancy you will hold with your new landlord. You may lose your ‘Right to Buy’, or may not have the ‘Right to Acquire’ so it’s worth checking these things. Make sure you have a few viewings during the exchange process as you’re accepting the property “as seen”. Ask lots of questions – this could be your new home and it’s really important you’re happy with it. Things to think about are:
- Condition of the home – decoration, layout, state of repair
- Location – make sure you visit at different times of day, evening and at the weekend so you can get a feel for the area
- Transport – is there parking? Are you close enough to public transport?
- Amenities – where’s the nearest supermarket? What are the local schools like?
- Neighbours – what are the neighbours like? Are there any disputes? Visiting several times can help you assess the situation.
The swap approval process
Landlords may carry out the following visits:
They will assess the condition of your home and look for any damage or alterations you may have made. They will discuss any items you may be leaving or taking with you, such as fridge-freezers or cookers. They will discuss tenancy matters and any rent arrears.
Health & Safety checks
They will complete a thorough health & safety gas and electrical check. Anything that needs to be fixed should be identified and sorted out before your move.
Energy Performance Certificate
From the 1st October 2008 it became a legal requirement for social landlords to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) on change of a tenancy. They may arrange for an Energy Assessor to contact you for an appointment to complete an EPC prior to your move. If you have moved in after October 2008, it might not be necessary to complete another as the (EPC) certificate is valid for 10 years.
Property report and review
Following the visits, a property report will be sent to the other swapper to sign and return. Your landlord will check your rent account and any look at any conditions they have asked to be put right. A clear rent account is required. They will confirm the health & safety checks are pass or fail.
Your landlord will send a tenancy reference to your new landlord. They will confirm your new landlord is at the same stage in the process before proceeding. They will confirm in writing their decision to grant you consent to exchange. They will ask you and your swap partner to agree a date to move and you should each notify your landlord of the agreed date. They may require 5 working days notice to prepare the paperwork. All landlords involved in the exchange must give their consent before you can move.
If you move before you have signed the ‘Deed of Assignment’ or without your landlords permission they will ask you to move back. You could risk losing your home.
You have a date
You will be asked to arrange a time and date that you and your swap partner can attend your landlords offices to sign the ‘Deed of Assignments.’ This appointment is usually arranged mid week before your move the following weekend. Your assigned tenancy will commence the following Monday.
You will be required to provide your original tenancy agreement and two forms of ID, (please include one photo ID).
If you are in receipt of housing benefit please remember to advise your local office you are moving as you may be required to complete a new form/change of circumstances.
You will be required to discuss all moving arrangements with your swap partner.
Once you have signed the’ Deed of Assignment’ it is legally binding and you are expected to move on the date as agreed with your landlord. You, or your swap partner can pull out at any time before this document is signed with no penalties.
Refusing a swap
Landlords may only refuse your home swap application for reasons set out in Schedule 3 of the 1985 Housing Act & Section 15 of the 1988 Housing Act.
- your landlord has started eviction proceedings
- you work for your landlord and your home was provided in connection with your job
- your home is adapted for a person with special needs and nobody in the new tenant’s household has special needs
- the home you want to move to is much larger than your household needs
- the home you want to move to is too small for your household, and you would be overcrowded
They will advise you in writing on what grounds they have refused your application.
Landlords may also require you to correct a tenancy matter – e.g. rent arrears – before permission to move is granted. They will also check if any alterations have been made and had been approved with landlords consent.