Mutual exchange is essentially a permanent house swap between two social housing tenants. It occurs where two or more qualifying social housing tenants exchange tenancies, and move permanently into each other's homes.

Many tenants who are looking for a mutual exchange, register with one of the online mutual exchange services (such as HomeSwapper). These services allow qualifying tenants to add their home to the service's website so that other registered users can view the property details. Interested tenants can then search the website and view other advertised properties, in order to find a suitable new home.

It is not a requirement to use one of the online mutual exchange services - it is just that many tenants find them convenient. It is also possible to agree an exchange via friends, family or neighbours for example - so long as the proper processes are followed.

Some of the key facts and requirements around mutual exchange are summarised below:

Do you qualify for a mutual exchange?

  • Here are some simple questions which, if you answer yes, could mean you qualify for a mutual exchange:
  • Is your landlord a public sector landlord? These include private registered providers (often called 'housing associations'), and local authorities. South Hams and West Devon do not own any housing stock, so if you live here and are a public sector tenant, you are likely to be a tenant of a housing association. Ask your landlord if you are unsure.
  • Do you have a secure tenancy, an assured non-shorthold tenancy or fixed-term tenancy, and have you successfully completed any probationary period? If you have an assured non-shorthold tenancy or fixed-term tenancy, does the tenancy document include a right to exchange? Again, your landlord will be able to confirm this for you if you are unsure.
  • Are you up to date with payment of your rent, and are you complying with all of your tenancy obligations?

A mutual exchange can take place even if the people wishing to swap houses have different landlords. So for example, a local authority secure tenant could mutually exchange with:

  • Another secure tenant of that same local authority
  • A secure tenant of another local authority
  • A tenant of a private registered provider.

In contrast, a tenant could not mutually exchange with a tenant renting through a private landlord, and there is no right to exchange to a vacant property.

Most mutual exchanges are between two tenants, but they can be between more than two, as long as all of the involved tenants are exchanging their tenancy, and are receiving an exchange in return.

For more information, including details about the legal processes and practicalities of mutual exchange, please download the guidance notes from the right hand side of the page.