Apply to move home (Mutual Exchange)

Secure tenants have the right to assign a tenancy to another tenant, commonly known as your ‘Right to Exchange’ or a ‘Mutual Exchange’, subject to their landlord's consent. 


1 - Find someone to exchange with

To move home you need to find someone to exchange with:

  • start by registering on HomeSwapper, which is a national mutual exchange register. It allows you to advertise your home and search for suitable matches. It will also keep you updated with any possible matches. It's free for our tenants and all you need to do is state that your landlord is Sutton Housing Partnership. 
  • you can also find someone to swap with independently 
2 - Apply for it

Once you have found someone to exchange with you, both you and that person need apply to SHP.

  • you can apply to us using your HomeSwapper account. This will allow us to communicate with you through SwapTracker (HomeSwappers's tracking tool) and you will be able to view the process of your application as it goes through different stages. 


Each tenant needs to complete an application. Completed applications should be returned to SHP or your respective landlord. 

3 - We review

Once we have received your application we will review it. We will check the information you provide is correct. We will also check your tenancy, rent and any other accounts you have with SHP.

If you are not already an SHP tenant, then we will request a reference from your landlord. All applications will be assessed to check the suitability of the exchange. 


4 - Property Inspection

We will arrange an Inspection of your property and we will inspect the structure and decorative order to make sure it is in line with your tenancy conditions.


5 - We decide

We will assess the applications, make a decision and let you know the outcome within 42 days. This decision may be provisional or dependent on a course of action.  


If the application is approved 
  • you will need to complete the legal paperwork before you can move in


If the application is approved with conditions 
  • approval may be subject to payment of any outstanding rent arrears, including court costs 
  • approval may be subject to any outstanding conditions relating to the tenancy agreement (for example rectifying unauthorised works)


We may refuse an application on the following grounds
  • there is a Possession Order on the property
  • a Notice of Seeking Possession has been served
  • the tenant or any member of his household has behaved in an anti-social way and action including possession proceedings, injunctions, anti-social behaviour orders or a demotion order against them are in place or are being sought
  • the property is bigger than is needed by the family wishing to move into it
  • the property is not big enough for the family wishing to move into it
  • the property is tied accommodation (ie your home is let to you as part of your employment contract)
  • the landlord is a charity and the proposed new tenants moving into the property would conflict with the objects of the charity
  • the property has special features that make it suitable for occupation by a physically disabled person who needs it and if the exchange took place there would no longer be such a person living in the property
  • the landlord is a Housing Association or Housing Trust that lets properties to particularly vulnerable people and if the exchange took place there would no longer be such a person living in the property
6 - Signing the paperwork and moving into your home

If we have approved your application we will arrange a date for you to assign your tenancy and agree your moving date.

On this date you will officially exchange tenancies.


7 - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a mutual exchange?

Where at least two tenants exchange their homes, with their landlord's consent.

How does a mutual exchange work?

A mutual exchange enables you to swap your home with that of another of our tenants or a tenant of another housing association or council, providing they have the right to mutual exchange and agree to swap homes with you.

Can I only exchange with another tenant in the Sutton borough?

No, you can exchange with other local authority or social housing tenants.

What type of tenancy do I need to have to do a mutual exchange?

If you are our tenant, you will need to have a secure tenancy.

Unfortunately, introductory tenants or tenants in temporary accommodation do not have the right to exchange.

Can I exchange with someone who lives in a Housing Association property?

Yes. You can exchange with a resident that has a tenancy with any registered social landlord providing that the person that you are exchanging with has an assured or fixed term tenancy.

If you are considering exchanging with a tenant with an assured or fixed term tenancy your rights and responsibilities may be different to that of a secure tenancy, so you should seek advice on the differences.

Can more than two households do a mutual exchange?

Yes, a three way exchange (or sometimes more) is not unusual. All the same rules apply and all parties involved will need to have consent from their landlord.

Can I exchange with a member of my family who is also a tenant?

Yes, provided you meet the exchange criteria and the landlords involved agree and give permission for this.

Can I apply for a mutual exchange if I have previously applied and exchanged?

Yes. You will be required to go through the same process as you did previously.

Can I exchange if I have rent arrears?

If you have rent arrears and have been served with a Notice of Seeking possession or there is a court order in respect of the debt, you will not be able to exchange.

All residents are required to clear outstanding arrears prior to the exchange proceeding.

What if I am in receipt of Universal Credit and have arrears?

If you are in receipt of Universal Credit, we are aware these payments are made in arrears, so this will be taken into consideration when assessing your application.

You will need to ensure there is no outstanding balance after these payments as any unpaid shortfall on the account will result in the request being rejected.

I have a joint tenancy and the other tenant no longer lives at the address with me. Do both of us need to sign the application to apply for an exchange?

If your tenancy is in joint names, Sutton Housing Partnership must obtain the consent of the other joint tenant. All parties proposing the exchange must sign the application and all legal documents to complete the mutual exchange.

Can I exchange to a bigger property?

London Borough of Sutton allows applicants to benefit from one bed space in excess of their households needs. Put simply, this means that a household can benefit from a double bedroom if there is only a need for a single room but cannot benefit from a further bedroom. This may be different if you are applying to another landlord, so you should seek clarification from that landlord.

What is the overall mutual exchange process?

On receipt of the mutual exchange applications, we will carry out an assessment and confirm in writing within 42 days, if the exchange can go ahead or not.

We will need to do an inspection of your home.

If you are moving to a home that is not owned by London Borough of Sutton, we will need to apply for a landlord reference for the incoming tenant. Your proposed new landlord will also ask us to provide a reference about you, your tenancy and how the tenancy has been conducted.

If we agree to the exchange taking place, then we will work with you to agree a mutual date for completing the paperwork and moving.

I need to move urgently, can I exchange and then get permission?

No, you can only exchange if the landlord has granted permission and if all the legal paperwork has been signed.

Why would a mutual exchange application be rejected?

The Housing Act 1985 defines the grounds for withholding consent to exchange by way of exchange. This includes rent arrears, a court order, tenancy breaches including anti-social behaviour, under occupancy, overcrowding or where there are restrictions such as age or accessibility of the accommodation.

What can I do if my request to exchange is refused?

If you are responsible for the grounds for the refusal, we will write to you outlining in detail the reason(s) why the application has been refused.

If your application has been refused but you are not responsible for the grounds for the refusal, we will not outline the details of why the application has been refused. We would encourage you to get in touch with the other tenant(s) involved in the exchange to discuss this.

If I have an application refused how quick can I apply again?

You can apply again immediately.

Can I change my mind at any time?

Before signing paperwork, you can withdraw from the exchange at any time.

Can I swap back if I don't like living in my new home?

You cannot swap back into your old home unless the tenant who swapped with you is in agreement. You will then both have to start the exchange process again from the beginning and wait for the landlord's permission.

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

No, looking for an exchange will not affect your application for a transfer. It will, however, increase your chances of moving.