Three different colour house keys

Small Is Beautiful

Looking for ways to cut the cost of rent or sidestep the Bedroom Tax? Downsizing is one way to achieve both – and the little-known option of a home swap may be right up your street

The Bedroom Tax (or under-occupancy charge) has been in the news again lately. Calls for it to be scrapped by the opposition parties during the recent election failed. Now it seems it is here to stay.

While we’ve updated our guide to the Bedroom Tax, (download it here), one of the ways around the Tax is to downsize by swapping homes. Here we list the basics of how to go about it.

Tenancy Exchange

If we are a tenant in either a council or housing association property, we may be able to arrange a home swap. In order to arrange a swap, we need to find someone who also wants to swap homes and is looking for somewhere bigger. They must be a tenant in either a council or housing association property, too.

If we are both in the position of wanting to swap with each other, the next step is getting written permission from both landlords. By contacting the council or housing association direct, we can ask permission to swap. Our landlord must then reply to our request within six weeks. If both parties agree, some legal paperwork has to be drawn up before the swap can be completed.

Search for a swap…

Unless we just happen to know someone who wants to swap into a home exactly like ours (unlikely), we need to seek them out. Fortunately, help is at hand.

There are a few websites online that match people up. We can search by location, the size home we need and how much rent we can pay, and the sites brings up matches. We also put a listing up for our own home, and people can search us out too.

Most sites are easy and free to use. Some might charge a fee to list our home but avoid these, if possible. The following are free:

Our landlord will tell us if there are any local schemes or ones designed for just for their tenants. It’s in their interest to free up unused bedrooms for bigger families. As a result, they might also have incentives or help on offer with the cost of a move.

Can my Landlord refuse?

Yes, our landlord can refuse our request to swap homes. But there has to be a good reason for it. The kind of reasons a landlord can refuse a home swap request, include:

  • Our landlord has started eviction proceedings against us
  • The home we want to move to is too small for our household and would be overcrowded
  • Our home is adapted (for a person with special needs) and nobody in the new tenant’s household has those needs
  • We work for our landlord and our home was provided in connection with our job

Our landlord must let us know the reason they’ve turned down our request within six weeks.

Do I qualify?

We are eligible for a home swap if we are:

  • Either a secure or fixed term council tenant.
  • Either an assured or a secure housing association tenant.

For more information on home swaps, check out:

Advice from Shelter
General advice from Citizen’s Advice on transferring tenancies.

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