Mutual exchange (Council House Swap)

This guide describes how council and housing association tenants can swap homes with other tenants.

What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is when two or more social tenants agree to swap their properties. It can be a quick way to get another size or type of property, or a move to another area without having to wait on a housing list. There's no restriction on how long you need to have a tenancy before you can apply for a mutual exchange.

Who can I exchange with?

If you have a Scottish Secure Tenancy you can swap homes with tenants of:

  • any Scottish local authority – not just Stirling Council
  • a registered social landlord, such as a housing association
  • any local authority in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Finding someone to swap with

We recommend finding someone to swap with on the House Exchange website. You can sign up for free.

Visit the House Exchange website

We recommend you upload pictures of your home to attract people to swap with. People with pictures uploaded are much more likely to find a swap. You can also use the site to search for people to swap with, and contact them to see if they're interested.

There are also Facebook groups where people look for house swaps, though these are not run or monitored by Stirling Council.

Getting permission to swap

Before swapping homes you must get written permission from both landlords. If you're currently a tenant of Stirling Council, you'll need to complete these forms.

Application for a mutual exchange

Mutual exchange acceptance form

If you need help completing the forms, call us on 01786 404040 to arrange an appointment.

If you want to exchange with someone who is not a tenant of Stirling Council you will also have to apply to their landlord. If you're currently a tenant of a housing association in the Stirling area you'll have to contact them for information on their exchange process.

What happens next?

Before we agree to an exchange we'll carry out the following checks:

  • all parties have Scottish Secure Tenancies
  • the houses are suitable for the needs of you and your family and will not cause overcrowding or under occupancy
  • tenancies have been maintained to a satisfactory standard, which includes the houses being in a good state of decoration and repair, no outstanding debts, and no legal action against you or any member of the household
  • if any of the properties are specially designed or adapted for persons with special needs
  • the landlord involved agrees to the exchange

Conditions for getting permission

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-occupied as a result of the swap
  • 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. These include:

  • an inspection of your property reveals that it is not in good condition
  • you have rent arrears, unless you've been keeping to an arrangement for at least 13 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.

When can I move?

If the exchange is approved, we'll arrange an appointment for all parties to sign the relevant documents. Your new tenancy will begin on the date which is agreed. You can move any time after that.

If your application is refused

If we decide not allow an exchange to take place, we'll give you a written decision explaining why within 28 days of receiving your application. Sometimes we might not be able to disclose our reasons as 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 by writing to the relevant manager. The manager will then advise you of their decision within 10 working days.

If you're not satisfied with their decision you can appeal to the service manager, who will respond within 15 working days. If you remain dissatisfied you can use the council’s complaints procedure.

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