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Mutual Exchange policy

1. Purpose

We provide an enhanced right to exchange through our tenancy agreements to enable our tenants to move home within Genesis stock or more widely between social housing providers. This policy outlines the types of exchanges that we facilitate and our commitment to ensuring that all exchanges are carried out promptly and in line with legislation.

2. Definitions

Mutual exchange: refers to the process whereby tenants living in social housing swap homes. The exchange can take place between more than two tenants.

3. Promoting mutual exchanges

We encourage tenants to register with services that facilitate mutual exchanges, including internet based services. We take reasonable steps to publicise the availability of any mutual exchange service and provide reasonable support in using the service to tenants who do not have access to the internet.

4. Eligible tenants

The following tenants have the right to mutual exchange:

“Lifetime” tenants

  • Secure tenants have a statutory right to exchange
  • Periodic assured non-shorthold (“assured”) tenants have a contractual right to exchange

“Fixed term” tenants

  • Assured shorthold fixed term tenants have a contractual right to exchange.

5. Types of exchange

The type of mutual exchange that takes place varies according to the type of tenancy that the mutual exchange applicant and the exchange partner hold. The exchange will take place either by way of assignment or surrender and re-grant.

5.1 By way of assignment

An assignment is where each tenant passes their tenancy onto their mutual exchange partner. By this process, no new tenancy is created. Assignments take place where:

  • Both tenants have lifetime tenancies that started before 1 April 2012
  • Both tenants have fixed term tenancies. Each tenant takes on the remainder of the fixed term when they are assigned the tenancy.

Secure tenants exchanging with an assured tenant are advised to seek independent legal advice about the loss of any statutory rights as a result of the exchange.

5.2 By way of surrender and re-grant

The Localism Act 2011 introduced rights for lifetime tenants and fixed term tenants to swap homes with each other whilst retaining their security of tenure. By this process, each tenant surrenders their original tenancy and is granted a new one of the same type.

Some tenants are excluded from these rights:

  • Lifetime tenants whose tenancy started after 1 April 2012
  • Fixed term tenants whose property is let at an affordable rent

We process mutual exchanges by way of surrender of re-grant for a tenant with a lifetime tenancy granted after 1 April 2012, but in this case we will grant the lifetime tenant a fixed term tenancy.

We explain the terms and conditions of the tenancy that the applicant takes on before the exchange, but also advise tenants to seek legal advice about any loss or gain of tenancy rights.

6. Grounds for refusal

We approve or refuse all mutual exchanges within 42 days of receiving an application from a Genesis tenant.

The grounds for refusing an exchange vary according to the tenancy types of mutual exchange applicants Exchanges between lifetime tenants may be refused on grounds listed in Schedule 3 of the Housing Act, while the grounds for refusal for exchanges involving a fixed term tenant are listed in Schedule 14 of the Localism Act. The grounds for refusal can be found in appendix 1.

6.1 Property size

We deem a property as being too large if the incoming tenant would under-occupy the property by more than one bedroom according the size criteria set out in our lettings and allocations policy, where we allow for one bedroom for each person (single adult) or couple living as a household and an extra bedroom for:

  • any other person aged 16 years or over
  • two children of the same gender under the age of 16
  • two children who are under the age of 10 regardless of gender
  • a child or adult who requires overnight care from a non-resident carer
  • a child or adult who is unable to share a bedroom because of disability
  • a foster child where the resident is an approved foster carer, whether they have a child placed with them or not (as long as they have been approved or had a placement in the last 12 months).

6.2 Conditions for consent

Where a ground for refusal does not apply, we may withhold consent to an exchange until all obligations under the tenancy have been met, including:

  • The property is in a good condition
  • All rent and service charge has been paid

7. Affordability

All applicants are required to undergo an affordability assessment to ensure that the rent is affordable. We aim to meet the objective that no household should pay in excess of 40% of their net household income on housing costs (rent including other charges owed to Genesis). We strongly discourage an exchange where the incoming tenant will not be able to afford the property. We emphasise to the tenant the risk they face of losing their tenancy by exchanging into an unaffordable property.

8. Exchange without consent

In circumstances where tenants have swapped properties without our formal consent, both tenants will be in the serious position of:

  • Having no legal interest in the tenancy at the property they have moved to
  • Being liable for the rent and other obligations of their original tenancy
  • Losing their home and security of tenure as they are no longer occupying the property as their main or principle home

9. Appeals

A tenant can appeal a decision if they are dissatisfied with the way their application has been handled. Appeals are considered by an officer not involved in the original decision. If dissatisfied with the appeal decision, customers are advised to follow our complaints process.

10. Information sharing

Information regarding our customers is sensitive and we maintain confidentiality in line with our confidentiality and data protection policies. However, in order for the exchange to take place, we are required to share information about the applicant’s tenancy history with the exchange partner’s landlord or staff where both applicants are Genesis tenants. We make applicants aware that information will be shared when they apply to exchange.

11. Background legislation

  • Housing Act 1985
  • Localism act 2011

12. Other useful links

  • Tenancy policy
  • Income collection – Rent policy
  • Anti-social behaviour policy
  • Succession policy
  • Lettings and allocations policy

13. APPENDIX 1 – Grounds for refusal

Schedule 3 of the Housing Act 1985

Schedule 14 of the Localism Act 2011

Grounds for refusing consent to exchange



Ground 1


When any rent lawfully due from a tenant under one of the existing tenancies has not been paid.




Ground 2


When an obligation under one of the existing tenancies has been broken or not performed.


Ground 1


Ground 3


A court order for possession or a suspended possession order has been made for either property.


Ground 2


Ground 4 & 5

The landlord has served a notice of seeking possession and the notice is still in force, or possession proceedings have commenced.


Ground 3


Ground 7


The property is substantially larger than is reasonably needed by the proposed assignee.


Ground 4


Ground 8


The property is not reasonably suitable to the needs of the proposed assignee and their household.


Ground 5


Ground 9


The property is part of or close to a building that is held for non-housing purposes, or it is situated in a cemetery and was let in connection with employment with the landlord or with a local authority, a new town corporation, housing action trust, an urban development corporation, or the governors of a grant-aided school.


Ground 6


Ground 10


The landlord is a charity and the proposed assignee’s occupation of the property would conflict with the objects of the charity.


Ground 7


Ground 11


The property has been substantially adapted for occupation by a physically disabled person, and if the assignment went ahead a physically disabled person would not be living there.


Ground 8


Ground 12


The landlord lets properties to people in difficult circumstances (other than merely financial circumstances) and the proposed assignee would not fulfil this criteria.


Ground 9


Ground 13


The property is let to people with special needs and there is a social service or special facility nearby to the properties to assist people with those special needs, and if the assignment was to go ahead no person with those special needs would be living there.


Ground 10

Ground 14


The dwelling is the subject of a management agreement where the manager is a housing association of which at least half the members are tenants subject to the agreement, and at least half of the tenants of the dwellings are members of the association, and also that the proposed assignee is not such a member nor is willing to become one.


Additional ground

(Housing Act 2004)

Ground 6

An injunction order under Section 153 Housing Act 1996 or an anti-social behaviour order or a Demotion Order or a possession order under Ground 2 for secure tenancies or Ground 14 for assured tenancies is in force or an application for one of those is pending either against the tenant, the proposed assignee or a person who resides with either of them.


If you’re interested in a mutual exchange, visit the Homeswapper website to view advertised properties and register your details.

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