I’ve found a swap – what next?

15 Oct 2018

You’ve found the swap you wanted – congratulations! So, what happens next?

Forms

All tenants are required to complete a mutual exchange form, just ask your landlord and they’ll send you the details. It will usually be in paper form rather than one you can fill out online and it will ask for details about your home and the tenant you want to swap with. Once you’ve filled it out, return the completed form to your landlord.

Your landlord will then have 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 you can be sure that it will never be more than 42 days.

Things you need to check

You need to make sure you check the rent amount of your new home and the type of tenancy you will hold with your new landlord. It’s important to note that you may lose your ‘Right to Buy’ or may not have the ‘Right to Acquire’ with your new home – so it’s worth checking these things if this is important to you.

Remember that you’re accepting the property ‘as seen’, so do make sure you have a few viewings during the exchange process. Ask lots of questions during these visits – 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.

If you want more information on what to look for when viewing a potential home, take a look at our article on the subject here

The swap approval process

During the swap approval process, landlords may carry out the following visits:

Property Inspection

They will assess the condition of your home and look for any damage or alterations you may have made. They’ll discuss any items you might be leaving or taking with you, such as fridge-freezers or cookers. They’ll also go into tenancy matters with you and any rent arrears.

Health & Safety checks

Your landlord 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, but this is down to your landlord’s decision.

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 look at any conditions they have asked to be put right. A clear rent account will be required to complete the swap. They’ll also confirm if the property has passed or failed the health & safety checks.

Your landlord will then send a tenancy reference to your new landlord and 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 and will then ask you and your swap partner to agree a date to move. You should each notify your landlord of the agreed date, but be aware that they might require 5 working days’ notice to prepare all 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 landlord’s permission they will ask you to move back and you could risk losing your home, so please don’t attempt to do this!

You have a date

Great – you’re almost there! Once you have a move 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 for the middle of the week before a move the following weekend, so if you’re planning to move on the Saturday the meeting will take place in the week running up to that day. Your assigned tenancy will then begin the following Monday.

At this meeting, you’ll be required to bring your original tenancy agreement and two forms of ID, (please include one photo ID).

If you receive housing benefit please remember to advise your local office you are moving, as you may need to complete a new form or change of circumstances form.

You’ll be expected to discuss all moving arrangements with your swap partner. Once you’ve both signed the’ Deed of Assignment’ it is legally binding and you are expected to move on the date that’s been 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 can only refuse your home swap application for the reasons below (which are set out in Schedule 3 of the 1985 Housing Act & Section 15 of the 1988 Housing Act).

These are:

• 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

If they do refuse a swap, your landlord will tell you in writing on what grounds they’ve refused your application.

Landlords may also need you to correct a tenancy matter – e.g. rent arrears – before permission to move is given.

It’s a bit of a long process, but once all of this is completed, you’ll be ready to move into your lovely new home. For advice on smooth move, check out our article on the subject here.