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Disrepair - applying for a transfer or mutual exchange

This advice applies to Wales

If you’ve reported repairs to your landlord and they haven’t done anything, then you can do something about it. Tenants of social housing landlords may be able to apply to transfer to a different property within their landlord’s stock. Alternatively, they may be able to exchange home with another social housing tenant in other parts of the country or other parts of the UK.

This page gives more information on the transfer and mutual exchange process and things you need to think about if this is an option for you.

Applying for a transfer or mutual exchange because of disrepair

Applying for a transfer or mutual exchange because of disrepair isn't an ideal solution to the problem. This is because it may take a long time before you move and in some cases the disrepair just becomes another tenant's problem. However, some tenants may not feel the same way as you do about the condition of your home and it may offer them other things that they're looking for, for example, size or location.

Transfers

In England, local authority tenants must have a reasonable preference before they can be considered for a transfer. Having a reasonable preference means that you have priority in some way, for example, because of medical problems or because you're living in overcrowded accommodation.

In Wales, if you're a local authority tenant, you're automatically entitled to be considered for a transfer to another property owned by your landlord.

Tenants of other social housing landlords, for example, housing associations, may be able to apply for a transfer to another property owned by that landlord. Landlords generally have policies on transfers or there may be information in your tenancy agreement or handbook. Check and see if you're entitled to apply.

How long will it take to transfer?

Transfers often take a long time and in some cases, you may never receive an offer of another property. If you do receive an offer, there's no guarantee that it'll be exactly what you want.

Your chances of getting a transfer will generally be based on your particular circumstances. Landlords may give you points or put you in a certain band depending on your situation. In some cases, the length of time you've been on the list may also count.

Applying for a transfer

If you're interested in a transfer you generally have to fill in a form or register in some way. You should contact your landlord to find out what you need to do, or there may be information on your landlord's website or in your tenant's handbook.

There are a number of things that you should think about before transferring to a new home which are explained further below.

Mutual exchanges

The process of exchanging or swapping homes with another social housing tenant is known as a mutual exchange.

Certain social housing tenants are unable to exchange homes with another tenant. They are introductory tenants, starter tenants, demoted tenants and tenants with a family intervention tenancy.

A mutual exchange is generally carried out by assigning (passing on) your tenancy to another tenant using a legal document called a deed of assignment.

You'll need permission to exchange from both your landlord, and the landlord of the tenant you want to exchange homes with.

How do you find another tenant to exchange homes with?

Your landlord may publish its own register of tenants wanting to exchange. There are also a number of free and paid for exchange schemes.

In England, social housing landlords must subscribe to an internet-based mutual exchange service, which allows you to register for free and to find information on properties suitable for exchange. Landlords should also offer you help if you don't have access to the internet.

Things to think about before transferring or exchanging home

There are some things that you should think about before transferring or exchanging your home with another tenant. They include:

  • the terms and conditions of the tenancy that you would get as they could be different to what you have now
  • the condition of the other property and whether the landlord will do any repairs before or soon after you move in
  • how much the rent is and how it compares to what you pay now
  • in England, whether the tenancy is periodic (lifetime) or for a fixed period of time (fixed term).

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