Options are available to help change your housing by moving to a smaller home, swapping or exchanging your home or moving to other areas.

Home swap/mutual exchange

Where two or more council or housing association tenants agree to exchange (swap) their properties.

The exchange must be approved by all the landlords involved before it can go ahead, but permission cannot be unreasonably refused. If you find an exchange, you will need to complete an application with your landlord and include the details of the person you wish to swap with. Contact your landlord for more information on how to apply.

If you hold a secure or an assured tenancy then you will be eligible to exchange your property with:

  • housing association tenant
  • a council tenant

There are some types of housing that are not eligible for a swap or have special conditions to be met. If this includes your home or one you wish to swap with, your landlord will tell you.

We would recommend that you contact your landlord to obtain details of the mutual exchange service they recommend or subscribe to. They may advise you to register with an internet mutual exchange service.

Registering with a mutual exchange service will allow you to advertise your own property and search, view and match other properties that have been added by housing association and council tenants across the UK.

You could also try other internet services, adverts in local shops, newspapers or libraries or speak to family, friends and neighbours.

You and the person(s) you wish to swap with must make sure your landlord(s) agree prior to you exchanging properties. Your landlord and your prospective landlord will need to ensure the properties are in good order and that no rent arrears are outstanding. They will also need to ensure the properties being exchanged are suitable for the applicants moving in and that neither household will be overcrowded or under-occupying by more than the permitted number (usually one bedroom).

Be aware that when you swap homes you will also swap tenancies. This will normally mean you will sign a new tenancy agreement and have different rights and obligations. You should ask to see a copy of any new tenancy terms and conditions before agreeing to exchange.

Once you have signed up for the exchange (signed an agreement), you are legally required to move. You cannot change your mind at that point. Be sure that you are prepared to move before signing any agreement.

Moving to other areas

The law has changed and it is now possible to apply direct to other councils for housing.

This does not mean that another council has to help. It depends on how many local people they have to help.

Housing moves

Housing Moves is the Mayor of London's housing mobility scheme that allows tenants of London boroughs or housing associations to move outside their existing borough to a different part of London. It is run by the Greater London Authority and the majority of London boroughs and housing associations are participating.

Home swaps

A home swap is where two or more tenants swap homes with each other and does not therefore involve an empty property. A home swap is a good alternative to a transfer, as it does not depend on competing for an empty home on the basis of housing need. However there are still some rules, which have to be met such as not moving to something that is too big or too small. You will therefore need our agreement before you go ahead.

If you are interested in a home swap and have not found someone with whom to exchange please visit Council House Exchange, HomeSwapper or House Exchange.

Problems with your present home

If the main reason for wanting to move is a problem with your present home we may be able to help you.

You might have concerns about the state of repair of your home or you might be having problems in paying your rent or your landlord might be harassing you.

If you are experiencing these or any other problems we might be able to do something to avoid you having to move. Our advice team may be able to help.

Under occupancy

Priority is given to under occupiers to release family sized accommodation.

We determine whether a social housing tenant household is under occupying by using the following criteria from the current Allocations Policy:

  • if a tenant has more bedrooms than are required based on their family composition
  • are living in a housing association property in the Bexley borough

A key change is the reduction to Housing Benefit for households in social housing who have spare bedrooms.

Working age claimants who have at least one spare bedroom will be affected. The change to benefits will be a fixed percentage of the eligible rent used in the Housing Benefit calculation. This will be set at 14% for one extra bedroom and 25% for two or more extra bedrooms. Those affected will lose an average of £14 - £16 a week.

The size criteria in the social rented sector will restrict Housing Benefit to allow for one bedroom for each person or couple living as part of the household, with the following exceptions:

  • children under 16 of same gender expected to share
  • children under 10 expected to share regardless of gender
  • disabled tenant or partner who needs non-resident overnight carer will be allowed an extra bedroom

The changes will apply to tenants of working age. Pensioner's current entitlements will not be affected by the changes.