Council housing - mutual exchange (house swap)

Want to move house but not have to wait on the housing list?

A mutual exchange might be the solution.

A mutual exchange is where a tenant of Stirling Council exchanges or “swaps” their property with another Stirling Council tenant or tenant of a housing association or another local authority. A mutual exchange can be a quick way to get another size or type of property or a move to another area without having to wait on the Council’s housing list.

How do I find someone to mutual exchange with?

To help find a mutual exchange we have joined “HomeSwapper” which is a mutual exchange website. Stirling Council tenants can register with “HomeSwapper” free of charge and get information about tenants within the Stirling area who want to swap houses as well as details of people wanting to move here from outside the area. For more information or to register, visit homeswapper. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact the Allocations Team, who will be happy to help you register on the website.

You can also try to arrange a mutual exchange by word of mouth or by advertising in local shops.

Will I need permission before a mutual exchange can take place?

Yes.  You must apply to us (and any other landlord involved) to get permission to exchange.

If the person you want to exchange with is also a Stirling Council tenant there is only one mutual exchange application form to be completed but both you and the person you wish to exchange with have sections to fill in. Both households will also need to provide access to their houses to allow an inspection to be carried out.

If you want to exchange with a tenant of another landlord you must complete the Stirling Council mutual exchange application form and the other landlord’s mutual exchange application form.

What are the conditions for getting permission for a mutual exchange?

We cannot unreasonably withhold permission for a mutual exchange. However, we may refuse an application if: -

  • A court has granted a decree for repossession of your property or that of the person you want to swap with;
  • We are taking legal action to repossess your property or that of the person you want to swap with;
  • One of the households would end up being “overcrowded” (as defined in our allocations policy) or grossly under-occupying the property as a result of the swap; or
  • The exchange would mean that a property adapted for the needs of the elderly or those with a disability would have nobody living in it who needs the adaptation.

This list is not exhaustive there may be other reasons why we would withhold permission.

They are: -

  • We will inspect your property to make sure it is in good condition and carry out an electrical safety check.
  • We will check you rent account. If you have any rent arrears the swap cannot go ahead unless you have been keeping to an arrangement for 12 weeks and are continuing to make payments.

If the person you wish to exchange with is a tenant of another landlord, we will ask their landlord for a tenancy reference.

How long will it take?

By law, we must let you know of our decision, in writing, within 28 days of receiving the completed application. If there is going to be a delay in us responding, for example, we are waiting on a tenancy reference or access to inspect one of the houses we will let you know.

If we advise that the mutual exchange can go ahead you will be asked to sign a new tenancy agreement. You must not move in or out before you have done this.

What will happen if the mutual exchange is refused? 

We will write to you and explain the reasons for refusing permission unless this would involve a breach of confidentiality, for example, we cannot tell you if a court order has been granted to repossess the other person’s property.

If either party does not agree with our decision you can appeal against this decision in writing to the relevant manager. The manager will then advise you of their decision within 10 working days.

If you are not satisfied with their decision you can appeal to the Service Manager. You will receive a response within 15 working days.

If you remain dissatisfied you can use the Council’s Complaints Procedure.

If you are still not satisfied with our decision you will have a further 21 days to lodge an appeal to the Sheriff Court.

Will a mutual exchange affect my Right to Buy?

Yes. When we give permission for a mutual exchange, we will end your tenancy and create a new one. As a result, your right to buy entitlement will be affected. For further information, please phone Stirling Council on 01786 404040 and ask for the House Sales Team.

Other things to consider?

  • Either party can pull out at any time prior to the signing of the new tenancy agreements.
  • You will be responsible for any decoration needed or for carrying out repairs, which are the tenant’s responsibility following the move. It is important that you inspect your proposed exchange a few times as you will be accepting the decoration and fixtures “as seen4.
  • Whether viewing someone else’s home or showing your own, take some basic precautions to make sure you are safe. E.g. try to view in the daylight, have someone else with you or tell someone when and where you are going.

Would you like to know more about mutual exchange?

Call us on 01786 404040 and ask for the Allocations Team.