Mutual exchange

A mutual exchange is a swap of accommodation between two, three, four, or more tenants and relies on each party moving permanently into their exchange partner's property. A tenant cannot exchange into an empty property.

Who can apply for a mutual exchange?

All Council and housing association/trust tenants with secure tenancies and most housing association/trust tenants with assured tenancies can apply to exchange their accommodation. Unfortunately, mutual exchanges with tenants in leased or private rented accommodation are not allowed. All tenants must apply for, and obtain permission from their respective landlord(s) before going ahead with an exchange.

Why do I need to apply for permission before exchanging my accommodation?

Firstly, you are legally responsible for your property and for the prompt payment of the rent, weekly in advance. You are required to keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement and must not exchange or assign your tenancy without the Council's consent. The Council will take legal action against you if you exchange your accommodation without permission.

Secondly, before giving consent to an exchange, the Council must ensure that the tenants have met certain conditions:

  • Each tenant should have a clear rent account
  • Each tenant should be moving to a property of the correct size for their current housing needs. To allow greater flexibility, a tenant will also be allowed to move into a property with a maximum of one bedroom more than they need. Although it is something that is not encouraged, the Council will normally give consideration to an application from a tenant requesting an exchange to a property that is slightly smaller than they need
  • A tenant moving to a specially adapted property must have been assessed and given a medical recommendation by the Council, for that type of accommodation. These are the main terms that must be met. However, certain other conditions may apply.


Will pursuing a mutual exchange affect my application for a transfer?

No, pursuing an exchange will not affect your application for a transfer. It will increase your chances of obtaining a move.

What if I do not have any priority for a transfer? Can I still apply for a mutual exchange?

Yes. The advantage of mutual exchange is that the moves are not based on priority need, giving all tenants the chance of an exchange.

How will I find a suitable exchange partner?

Many tenants have found their exchange partners through friends and relatives or by placing postcards in shop windows. However, a very high number of tenants have found suitable exchange partners through an independent exchange service that they have found on the internet.

These services are self-help schemes set up by private organisations to put tenants in touch with others who are looking for exchange partners.

How successful are they?

These schemes have been very successful for hundreds of tenants. Each month more people are finding themselves suitable exchange partners and are able to move into the type of property that they had previously been waiting for. The future success of the schemes depend on the tenants. The more people that help themselves by registering on these schemes, the better the chance of finding a suitable exchange partner.

How can I register for these schemes?

The Council has now signed up to HomeSwapper which is a mutual exchange matching website for use by secure and assured tenants and is free of charge.

Please register on the HomeSwapper website for more information about tenants who want to exchange properties.

Disclaimer: Please note that the Council has no connection with any of the websites/services/companies supplied via these schemes and has no responsibility for the services and facilities that may be offered. Applicants making use of the services and facilities must do so at their own risk with no liability to the Council.

Do these schemes only cover Waltham Forest?

No, they are usually national schemes, covering all areas within England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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