Rehousing and transfers

North London Houses Against Cloudy SkyFor various reasons, your current home may no longer be suitable for your needs and those of your family. If you live in social housing, you may be able to get transferred or rehoused to another property by making an application to the local council or housing association. Different councils and housing associations will have different policies on transfers and rehousing but you will normally be able to apply because:

  • your current home is now overcrowded because your family has grown
  • your home is now too big for you, for example, because your children have left home
  • you are ill or have a disability and your current home is not suited to your needs.

How long does it take to get a transfer?

The time for a transfer or rehousing depend on the availability of a suitable property in your area. There is a shortage in most areas. If you are looking for a bigger property or one that has been altered to meet ill-health or disability needs, a transfer may take longer than usual.

In certain circumstances, local councils have a duty to rehouse people immediately, for example, because of domestic violence. Your best option may be to make a homelessness application rather than apply for a tenancy transfer. You should always speak to the council before you move out of your home. If not, you may be classed as intentionally homeless and would only be given short-term help.

Will I have the same rights when I transfer my tenancy?

You will normally have the same rights if you are transferring from your current home to another property with the same council or housing association. But if you are a housing association tenant and you transfer to a council property, you may have different tenancy rights. Always make sure that you ask about what type of tenancy you will be receiving and that you understand your rights before transferring your tenancy.

Can I exchange my tenancy with another tenant?

You could consider a mutual or tenancy exchange which means you are swapping homes with another tenant. Unlike a tenancy transfer, where you can only move homes within your local council area and which is arranged by your council, a mutual exchange can be with another tenant anywhere in the UK.

But, you and the other tenant will still have to get permission from your respective landlords to exchange homes, as well as follow their procedure for making the exchange. You should contact your council or housing association and check that you will be able to exchange your tenancy before you start looking. Should you try to exchange your tenancy without permission, your landlord has the right to evict you.

Your landlord may have reasonable grounds for refusing to give you permission for a mutual exchange. This could include where:

  • eviction proceedings against you have started
  • you are in your home because you work for the landlord and the property was provided as part of your job
  • the property you want to move into is much larger than your household needs or is too small and would lead to overcrowding

Your landlord should normally let you know within six weeks whether or not they will grant you permission. 

You should not have to pay any fees for making a mutual exchange. Neither you nor the other tenant can charge for a mutual exchange. It is illegal and you could both face eviction if any money is transferred as part of the process. Your landlord cannot charge you for this either.

What are my rights when I exchange my tenancy?

Since 1 April 2012, if you move from one council tenancy or from one housing association tenancy to another, you will take your existing tenancy rights with you when the mutual exchange is complete.

Before this date, you received the tenancy rights of the person with whom you exchanged tenancies.

If you are moving from a housing association tenancy to a council tenancy, your new tenancy could leave you with fewer rights.

Can I withdraw from a mutual exchange?

Until the mutual exchange is finalised and documents signed, you can withdraw from a mutual exchange because there is no binding agreement.

Nominations to a different area

A nomination is different from a tenancy transfer or a mutual exchange. You apply to the council in your current area because you have a specific reason to move your tenancy to another area, for example to be near a special needs school for your child.

Your current council will then forward your details on to the council for the area where you want to move and request that they house you if they have a suitable property for you.

But this will depend on the area you wish to move to because some councils will only accept nominations for certain types and sizes of property. The process will usually involve being placed on the central waiting list of the council in your preferred area till the right property becomes available.

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