A mutual exchange is when two or more tenants exchange (swap) their homes.
Each tenant must move into their exchange partner’s property and take on the responsibilities of that tenancy.
If you are thinking of exchanging, you first need to find an exchange partner. Visit Exchange Locata to register your details on if you want to find an exchange. Another popular way to find exchanges is on Facebook.
Read our Mutual Exchange Policy for more information.
The following frequently asked questions will guide you through the application process.
Do I need permission to exchange my property?
Yes. When you've found an exchange partner and before applying to us you must be sure you can afford the costs of living in the other home, and be prepared to take it on in its current condition.
- Check the affordability using this budget planner.
- Print the Applicant’s Property Checklist and take it with you to inspect your exchange partner's home because we'll ask you to agree to taking over the home in whatever condition it is now in. Complete the checklist during your inspection.
When you're satisfied about the condition of the property you will be taking over and sure you can afford the running costs please complete the online application form below.
All households involved in the exchange will have to complete this application process before we can consider your request. If the information we need is not supplied your application will be delayed. Please do not arrange removals until we confirm that it is safe to do so.
What happens after I've submitted my application?
We’ll let you know the outcome within 42 days of receiving your application (provided we have received all the information we need) and you shouldn’t make any arrangements to move until all landlords involved have confirmed their approval.
We’ll arrange to inspect your property as well as the property you want to exchange with (if it's within the area where we have housing). Everyone involved in the exchange is welcome to attend these inspections so we can answer any questions you may have.
Before we agree to the exchange we’ll check that your rent account is clear, that you have no history of causing anti-social behaviour and that your current home is in good condition.
If you are not a West Kent tenant we’ll ask your landlord for a reference.
Could my application be refused?
Yes. For example, if the property you want to move to is too small or too large for you. Also if the property has adaptations you don’t need or if any legal action has been started against your current tenancy. For a full list of grounds for refusal please read our mutual exchange policy.
What happens when my application is accepted?
After we've agreed a date for your move we'll arrange for you to come into the office to sign the paperwork. All applicants must pay the first week’s rent at this point, even if you will be receiving housing benefit.
We’ll refund any credit on your existing account after that tenancy comes to an end and we’ll book appointments with our planning team to carry out gas and electrical safety checks. They will confirm the dates and times with you and you should arrange to have the meters read on the day you move.
Does West Kent help with the cost of moving?
In most cases we can’t offer any financial support so you must make sure you consider these costs before you agree to exchange. You are also responsible for any decoration changes you want to make, so if you already know the property needs to be redecorated you must make sure you can afford to pay for it before you agree to exchange.
Downsizing through mutual exchange
Small is Beautiful: Over 50s who downsize through the mutual exchange process may be eligible for our Small is Beautiful scheme, which provides a menu of options you can choose to unlock some of the barriers to moving, depending on individual circumstances.
Discretionary payments: Other tenants who are under-occupying one of our homes and wish to move somewhere smaller by doing a mutual exchange may be eligible for a grant of £500 to help with moving expenses and/or to clear outstanding rent arrears so you can move. This is a one-off payment to you, or if you are in arrears to your rent account. However, the fund is limited, and we cannot help every case. To qualify for this payment you must:
- Be a tenant of West Kent.
- Hold an Assured Tenancy (includes Affordable Rent Tenancies but excludes Assured Shorthold Tenancies, Starter Tenancies or tenancies that have been demoted).
- Be moving by a mutual exchange (if moving with rent arrears you must be moving within West Kent stock), or through the local housing register.
- Demonstrate that you are under-occupying i.e. your home is too large when measured against the Department of Work & Pensions Housing Benefit Bedroom Standard and the new home is the correct size.
If you are interested in applying for a discretionary payment please contact us or call Customer Services on 01732 749400.
Can I take my pet with me?
If you move to another West Kent home you can take your pets - as long as the property you are moving to meets our pets policy criteria. Check our pets policy to see if you can take your pets.
Will I keep my right to buy ?
Not necessarily. Former Sevenoaks District Council tenants who have the right to buy should find out whether they will keep it after an exchange. This depends on the type of tenancy your exchange partner has.
Your right to buy remains with your tenancy, so the tenant moving into your home will benefit from it.
You will only ever have the right to buy the property you are moving to if your exchange partner’s tenancy was formerly with Sevenoaks District Council (and was an assured or protected tenancy.)
Is there anything else I should know?
Your new home may have extra costs your current home doesn't have. Consider these particular issues:
- Communal areas – for safety reasons all communal areas have to be kept clear of obstruction. One doormat outside the front door is allowed. We have a zero tolerance approach to items being left in the hallway and will sticker and remove any we find as they are a fire hazard. So think about storage space if you are moving to a flat.
- Trees in the garden - all tenants are responsible for the maintenance of their garden, including any trees so you must make sure you can afford the cost of maintaining them. You can pay to join our tree care maintenance scheme and then we will maintain the tree for you. This is a weekly payment by direct debit added to your weekly rent.
- Tenant alterations - you will become responsible for any alterations or improvements the current or previous tenants have made, inside or outside the property. For example, if a previous tenant has fitted a kitchen or driveway you'll be responsible for its future maintenance.