Mutual exchange

A mutual exchange allows you to swap your home with another council or housing association tenant.

To be eligible for mutual exchange, you need to:

  • be a Harlow Council tenant (including Supported Housing Scheme tenants)
  • have a secure tenancy

Find someone to exchange with

You can exchange homes with:

  • another secure Harlow Council tenant (including a family member)
  • a secure tenant of another local authority (anywhere in the UK)
  • a secure tenant of a housing association (anywhere in the UK)

You can view properties available for mutual exchange using the HomeSwapper website for free.

If you are a housing association tenant or a tenant of another local authority, you need to check with your landlord for information on any fees to use this service.

When you find someone to exchange home with, you need to:

  • contact them to arrange visits to each other’s home
  • inspect each other’s property carefully, making sure you are happy with the conditions of the property
  • check if there are any outstanding repairs as any emergency repairs should be completed before you exchange - make sure you know which repairs, if any, will be the tenant’s responsibility
  • make sure you can afford the costs of moving home, such as booking a removal company and budgeting for redecorations if needed
  • make sure you can afford the rent and Council Tax as this may be different to the amounts paid for your current home
  • consider making a second visit to the property at a different time of the day to get a feel for the area

You cannot offer or receive money from the tenant you are exchanging with as this is illegal. You and the other person could both be evicted and lose your homes.

If you are downsizing your home through a Mutual Exchange, you may qualify for financial assistance under the Tenant Moves Incentive Scheme.


Once you are satisfied that the new home meets your needs, you need to:

You can also pick up the form in person from Contact Harlow

If you want to swap with someone who is not a Harlow Council tenant, you both need to complete mutual exchange application forms for both Harlow Council and either the housing association or council of the other tenant.

If your tenancy is in joint names, you need to have the consent of the other joint tenant, even if they no longer live in the property.

Once you have completed the form, you need to return it to Contact Harlow, along with:

  • proof of residence
  • identity for all members of your household who are moving with you


Once we have received the completed Mutual Exchange Application form, we will carry our inspections of:

  • gas (around two hours)
  • electric (around four hours)
  • building (around one hour)

We will contact you, along with HTS (Property & Environment) Ltd, to make appointments for the inspections within 20 days of receiving your application.

After we have completed the inspections and any issues have been resolved, we will write to you with a decision within 42 days of receiving your application.

We will only refuse permission, if:

  • you or the other tenant has rent arrears and we have started legal action - if legal action has not started, we may ask you to repay any arrears before giving permission
  • you or the other tenant has been involved in antisocial behaviour and we have started legal action
  • the property that you or the other tenant plans to move into is too big or too small for your needs
  • the property contains adaptations that you or the other tenant does not need
  • the property is normally reserved for a certain group of people and you do not meet the requirements - for example, where the property you want to move into is classed as a Supported Housing Scheme property and you do not need supported accommodation
  • you have undertaken unauthorised alterations to your home

If we refuse your application, you can discuss this with your housing officer. If you are still unhappy after speaking with them, you can raise a complaint.

Complete the move

Once the exchange has been agreed in principle you will need to sign a disclaimer accepting the property in its current condition and responsibility for the maintenance of non-standard items.

If we give permission for the exchange, you should contact the other tenant and arrange a convenient time to move. You need to give us at least 14 days notice of the moving date.

When you have a moving date, you need to contact us to make an appointment for all tenants to sign a deed of assignment.

This deed is the formal document which legally transfers your tenancy. If the mutual exchange is with a non-Harlow Council tenant a second appointment will be made with the landlord.

Once you have completed a mutual exchange, you take on the tenancy rights and responsibilities of the tenant you exchange with.

If you are exchanging with a Harlow Council tenant you will still be a secure tenant and continue to have the right to buy. 

If you are exchanging with a housing association tenant, most will allow you to have the right to acquire at a discount.