Exchange your home
About mutual exchange
A mutual exchange is where you can exchange your property with another council or housing association tenant, from anywhere in the country. It is often a quicker method of moving home than a transfer.
You must be a secure tenant. If you are an introductory tenant, you do not have the right to exchange, although in special circumstances we do have the power to allow you to swap your home.
In most cases carrying out a mutual exchange means swapping your rights for those of the other tenant. Always check how your rights will change before you carry out a mutual exchange. You may want to seek legal advice.
Condition and repairs
If you want to carry out a mutual exchange with another person, you will be taking over someone else's tenancy. You must accept their property as you find it. Although we will inspect their property we will not: decorate or change or repair any alterations or damage made by the previous tenant. This will become your responsibility for the duration of the tenancy. Your home must be left in a good state of repair.
Finding someone to exchange with
To find someone to exchange with please use the HomeSwapper website. It's free to use. You just need to sign up to use the service. As well as advertising your property, the site will search for all possible matches every day. It will also send you alerts by email or text when a match is found.
What to do when you have found someone to exchange with
When you have found someone to exchange with:
- Complete a mutual exchange application form (pdf, 133 KB) (opens new window) .
- Take it to any Customer Service Point or send it to: Estate Management Service (100TS), Bristol City Council, PO Box 3176, Bristol, BS3 9FS.
The person you are exchanging with must also request permission from their landlord. We will check your application and will send a repairs officer to check your home. Each room must be fully accessible and free of any clutter to allow a full inspection to be carried out. If we are unable to carry out an inspection you will not be allowed to proceed with the exchange.
We will let you know our decision within 42 days of receiving your application form. You must not exchange until we have given you formal permission. If you do we may evict you. If we refuse your request to exchange, we will tell you why we have made this decision. It is illegal to offer or accept any money to carry out a mutual exchange.
Reasons we may refuse an exchange
Listed below are the main reasons why we might deny a mutual exchange:
- The property you or your exchange partner are moving to is either too large or too small.
- You have a Notice Seeking Possession or a Possession Order served on you.
- Your home is one which is occupied as part of your job.
- The property you wish to exchange with has been specially adapted for people with disabilities and you do not have a need for such adaptations.
- The property you wish to exchange with is in a supported housing scheme, unless you qualify for such accommodation.
- You have outstanding rent arrears (unless paid off in full by the time of the mutual exchange).
- It has been found that money is being offered or has been offered or exchanged in relation to the mutual exchange.
- You are an introductory tenant.
- If you have gas appliances in your home without a current and valid gas certificate issued by us.
Our repairs officer will check each room and look at any alterations you have made or any damage you have caused. Whilst these may not prevent the exchange from taking place, you may be asked to put this right before the exchange can go ahead. There are three categories we will apply to any repairs or alterations identified:
- Category E: These are essential repairs due to health and safety. They must be completed before the exchange is allowed to go ahead.
- Category C: These are conditional repairs that should be put right before the exchange is allowed to go ahead.
- Category A: These items are agreed and signed for as being acceptable by the incoming tenant.
Category E and C repairs: When you have completed these repairs we will need to check to make sure that they have been done properly. Please contact us to arrange another inspection.
Category A repairs: We will not repair or replace anything identified as category A before or after you have exchanged your home. Any alterations you have made to your current home will be checked by our repairs officer and must be accepted by the tenant you are exchanging with. You will need to accept any alterations or non standard fittings in your new home, installed by the previous tenant. For example: a non standard kitchen, built in wardrobes, showers, extensions or heating systems. Once you move you will become responsible for repairing and maintaining them.
Completion of the exchange process
- If we give you permission to exchange we will agree a convenient date to sign any necessary papers.
- You and the person you are exchanging with must meet any costs incurred in moving. It is illegal to offer or accept money to carry out a mutual exchange.
Repair responsibilities after you have exchanged
We will carry out repairs after you have exchanged your home, as long as we normally do them and they are due to fair wear and tear. However, we will not carry out any Category A repairs, as listed in the repairs inspection section above.
- We may deal with dangerous repairs such as isolating showers. However, you may have to pay for this service and then sort out a replacement yourself.
- We will remove any extension or shed that has become dangerous and you will be charged.
- Items such as non-standard taps will only be replaced if broken and then only with standard ones.
If the repair is a result of inappropriate or malicious damage it is unlikely we will do the repair. If we decide to do the repair as an exception, we will recharge the new household. This counts even if the damage was caused by the previous tenants. Any repairs which are not our responsibility will not be done. For example individual garden fences and gates.