We are continuing to put additional measures in place to safely manage the homes managed by the Council, fulfil our responsibilities as a landlord, and support our tenants and leaseholders.
In line with guidance from the Government and Public Health England, we continue to keep our mutual exchange administration process under review. These measures are likely to be updated at short notice in response to the changing nature of the pandemic and government guidance to ensure residents and frontline staffs are protected as much as possible and mitigated against health risks.
We ask that customers (and their household) do the following ahead of and during property visits by our staff and contractors:
- Wear a mask unless you are exempt. Further guidance on face coverings, when to wear one and exemptions is available on the Gov.uk website..
- Open windows and ventilate the property at least 30 minutes prior to our scheduled appointment time and throughout the duration of the visit.
- Persons who are not required to be present at our visit, where possible should not be in the same room as where the meeting will take place.
- Maintain a minimum social distance of two metres whilst we are in the property.
Where applications are suspended at short notice, the Housing Business Support Team will contact and update you.
Essential moves will continue to be supported, however where parties to the exchange include tenants of other landlords, due to service pressures we take no responsibility and request exchange applicants contact and escalate queries to their individual landlords directly. Where part of the process cannot be verified and completed, we reserve the right to refuse and or cancel the mutual exchange application pending resubmission at a later date.
You can also move home by applying for a mutual exchange. This is where you apply to exchange properties with other council tenants within the borough or with tenants from another council, housing association or other housing provider if you follow certain rules and get permission from your landlord.
Mutual Exchange Register
If you would like to find a Mutual Exchange within Stevenage, you can register quickly and easily on Home Swapper and House Exchange website - both which are an online mutual exchange services available to all tenants in secure or assured tenancies.
The websites gives the details of all tenants wanting to exchange, where and what type of home they live in now and where and what type of home they are looking for.
You can also look for a suitable exchange through word of mouth, by advertising in local newspapers or through cards in newsagents windows.
How can I apply for a Mutual Exchange?
You must always get written permission from us before a move is arranged.
When you have found a possible exchange and viewed each other's properties, you should fill out a Mutual Exchange Request form online through the Swap Tracker function available on the Home Swapper website.
If you are unable to complete the application form online, please contact Housing Business Support at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01438 242666.
What happens after I have applied?
When application forms and supporting documents have been received from all tenants of the proposed mutual exchange, we will consider your request and make a decision within 42 days as required by legislation.
If our tenant wants to exchange with the tenant of another landlord, they will need our permission and permission from the other landlord in writing before a move can take place. It will also be necessary to confirm all landlords involved in the exchange agree, that their tenant is eligible to exchange and that all parties are moving to suitable properties. Please bear in mind that it can take time to receive the information from the other landlord/s involved.
We will undertake a preliminary review, and should we not identify a reason for refusal, we will arrange for an electrical inspection by our contractor who will contact you directly to arrange and appointment, and a technical inspection by our Building Surveyor.
Our Building Surveyor will visit your property to check its size, type and condition. Any damage, unsatisfactory alterations, or missing fixtures and fittings (e.g. removed doors, banisters or balustrades) that are identified during the technical inspection must be repaired, removed, and/or reinstated by you. We will also note any alterations that have been made that are the tenant's responsibility to maintain and those that are our responsibility. Where fire doors are missing they must be replaced by doors of equal quality and fire resistance. If you have been asked to do any work as a condition to the exchange, the exchange may not be allowed to complete without a satisfactory re‑inspection by our Building Surveyor.
An alterations letter will then be sent to the incoming tenant listing which of these we can accept as our responsibility, which are the responsibility of the outgoing tenant, and which will be the responsibility of the new tenant. When we have received all signed copies of this letter accepting responsibility a formal decision will be made. We encourage all parties to the exchange to carry out more than one visit to the property they wish to move to, to ensure they remain satisfied with the overall condition they are taking on.
Approval of a Mutual Exchange
Should your application be formally approved, we will write and confirm the date you wish to move. You should then liaise with your exchange partner(s) to decide when you wish to move and give us at least 14 days’ notice. Arrangements will then be made by Housing Business Support for an appointment with a Housing Officer to sign relevant paperwork required to enable the exchange to proceed.
Refusal of a Mutual Exchange
When an application is made it is assessed by the Resident and Estates Services team. If any of the following apply your application may be declined:
- You have unpaid rent
- You are the perpetrator of anti-social behaviour
- You have been served with a Notice of Seeking Possession
- You have a Court order against you relating to a breach of your tenancy
- You will be considered to be overcrowded as the property you will be moving into is too small
- You will be considered to be under occupying the property, as we only allow one spare bedroom above our normal allocation standard
- If the property is specialised and you do not need that speciality, for example, to exchange into one of our specialist support scheme properties, you would need to be over 60 years of age with a support need and subject to an assessment.
- You are a homeless applicant living in temporary accommodation
- You are an introductory tenant
In exceptional circumstances, we will consider exchanges that fall just outside the guidelines in line with our allocations scheme policy.
Resident and Estates Services
Stevenage Borough Council