Mutual Exchanges – The Process

Written by admin on November 20th, 2011

The mutual exchange procedure can be a very long, tedious, and frustrating process for most. It can take anything from within the 42 days prescribed by social housing landlords to several months or even years.

The longevity of the process is completely due to the length of time that it takes to find compatible mutual exchanges. This part of the process, for many, seems to take longer than it did when all social housing landlords maintained lists of mutual exchanges available. Now that many social housing landlords do not keep details of exchanges, many websites have developed which advertise information of exchanges at a cost to the tenant or to the landlord. Without a central information point, such as your local housing department, potential mutual exchanges are spread far and wide and finding them can cost a lot of time and money, both of which, are in short supply for most.

Unless you are lucky enough to find your exchange by “word of mouth”, the search for an exchange is the most important part of the process.

The next step to be taken once a mutual exchange has been found is to inform your housing department and housing officer. The housing department should then send out exchange application forms.

Some landlords may send forms to their current tenant, for each tenant involved in the exchange to complete and return to the housing office. Other landlords will only send forms for the tenant moving into their property and the tenant moving out of their property. These forms allow the housing officer to determine whether their property is appropriate for the tenant wanting to move into it. This means that the property will not be overcrowded or under occupied by the prospective tenant and that any rules regarding the occupancy of the property are obeyed.

Each landlord may have their own procedure for gaining information about the tenants involved.

It may even be a case of the current tenant giving the information required over the telephone or online. Advice should be sort from your local housing department as to their method of gaining the information.

The information about the mutual exchange has been received by your housing department for your housing officer to check their records about your tenancy. They will be making sure that you are a secured tenant, if your landlord is a local borough council, or if you are an assured tenant, if your landlord is a housing association or charitable housing trust. The housing officer will also make sure that there are no rent arrears on the current tenants account and no history on file of anti social behaviour. If any one of these checks proves to be in the negative the mutual exchange may be refused. Where there are rent arrears a refusal or a conditional approval may be granted. The condition of approval being that the exchange can occur once the arrears are paid in full. The housing officer will also arrange to visit their tenant’s property to ensure that there is no damage to the property which will also be grounds for refusing the exchange until repairs are made.

Your mutual exchange has been approved by all housing departments involved so a moving date needs to be agreed by the tenants exchanging. The tenancy for the new property being occupied requires signing, it is not until all tenancy agreements are signed that the exchange is complete. If a tenant fails to sign a new agreement the exchange fails and all involved will need to return to their original property.

This can be a very stressful time as the move tends to be done in 1 day so that none of the tenants are without accommodation, as well as having to pack your belongings and prepare to move prior to really knowing that the exchange is definite, as this is not known until the new tenancies are signed by all concerned. Many social housing landlords now aim to have the whole process completed within the 42 day period and not just approve or disallow the exchange within that time.

It should be noted that after exchanging or transferring into a new property there usually is no time period required before exchanging again.

If a tenancy is being ended by a tenant 28 days notice is required to be given by the tenant during which rent and council tax will be incurred.

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