Mutual exchange - Frequently asked questions
Whether you're interested in exchanging your home or currently in the process, our Frequently Asked Questions Guide will have the answers you are looking for.
Who can I swap with?
Midland Heart customers, registered social landlord assured tenants and council tenants.
If my tenancy is less than a year old, can I still apply?
In most cases, anyone who moves into a Midland Heart property will be on what we call a “starter” tenancy for the first year. This is when our officers will visit at regular intervals to check on how you are doing in your new home and if there are any issues that come up.
Although starter tenants do not have a legal right to exchange, if you have been a tenant for less than a year, but more than 9 months, and there are no issues, you can apply for an exchange.
Your landlord will be able to confirm if you are eligible to exchange if you call them. If you are a Midland Heart tenant, you can complete a self-assessment online to find out if you are eligible.
Can I still apply if I have rent arrears?
If you have rent arrears or any other outstanding charges on your account (such as repairs recharges or court costs) you are not eligible for a Mutual Exchange, even if you are on a payment plan.
You need to have a zero balance on your account before applying.
How long will it take for the exchange to be completed?
We have a maximum of 42 days from when we receive your completed forms to make a decision (this is not to complete the full exchange).
However, as a rough guide to how long it could take:
- We give a deadline of seven days for you and your exchange partner to complete the online self-assessment.
- We give a deadline of two weeks for you to return the documents required for the second stage of the process.
- We request that external landlords provide references within two weeks, although we have no control over other organisations and this may take longer.
- We give all tenants involved two weeks to provide their ID documents and complete their application and property inspection forms.
- We then have five working days to make a decision as to whether the parties are eligible and if any issues need to be rectified – this is where we will provide a conditional approval for the exchange if it is successful at this stage, and also where the 42 day time period is no longer relevant to the rest of the process.
- Once we have made the decision, we then need a minimum of two weeks to book the necessary gas and electric checks, which will be a maximum of one day before the day of your exchange.
As you can see, that if everything runs smoothly, the process can take about 30 days. However, this can be delayed if any other landlords involved in the process do not respond to us on time.
Throughout the process we will give you regular updates by email.
I need to move urgently; can I exchange and then get permission?
If you do not get permission to exchange and you swap homes, both parties will be classed as illegally occupying the properties and both of you will be evicted, and you will lose your home as a result.
It is important that you wait until you have signed for your new property before you move in.
If I’ve applied for an exchange, can I change my mind?
You can withdraw at any time before you have signed the tenancy paperwork for the mutual exchange.
Why would I be responsible for any repairs if the damage was already there when I moved in?
Unlike a new tenancy, with a Mutual Exchange the tenancies are merely swapped between the two parties, and as such the property is never classed as being empty.
The prospective tenants of a Midland Heart property do property inspections. This allows them to notify us of any issues with the property before they move in; from the point of signing the paperwork, we will no longer be able to establish who is responsible for any damage. Therefore, whoever is the tenant at the time the damage is reported that is liable.
It is in your best interests to be as thorough as possible when conducting the property inspection, before you accept/move in.
Midland Heart will never advise either party that an inspection is not necessary, nor will we allow an exchange to go ahead without being satisfied that the inspection has been thorough.
Discuss any potential issues with the other party, and be clear on what each landlord classes as a repair that the tenants are responsible for; do not forget that these may vary from one landlord to another. Midland Heart have a video and a Repairs Responsibility Tool on our website that can help.
You may want to make notes for your own reference when you visit the property, or even take photos of any issues (with permission from the other tenant). We would also recommend that you visit the property again in the week before the exchange to ensure no new issues have arisen since the first inspection.
Please remember that once you have signed for the property, you are responsible for any damage that becomes known even if it was there when you took the property.
Can I move the weekend before we sign? (1)
We will contact you to arrange a date to exchange that is suitable with all parties involved.
You cannot move until all the paperwork is completed, i.e. when you have signed over your old property and signed to accept your new home.
If you do, this can be treated as illegal occupancy. We expects you to move properties as soon as all the paperwork is signed.
You become responsible for your new home as soon as you have signed the paperwork. So, why would you leave a stranger in a property that you are responsible for?
If I have exchanged previously, can I still apply for another exchange?
You can ask for permission to exchange again.
We will review this along with all the other information you provide before we make our initial decision.
Why would a Mutual Exchange application be rejected?
The Grounds we use when rejecting a mutual exchange application are found within Schedule 14 under Section 158 of the Localism Act 2011.
Examples of what these may mean include.
Ground 1: an exchange party having rent arrears (including court costs or repairs costs)
Ground 2: tenancy breaches, such as ASB, no access to complete checks or not receiving a landlord reference to enable Midland Heart to verify the conduct of a tenant planning to move into our property.
Ground 3: if there is a Court Order for any Landlord in the exchange to take possession of the property (meaning a court has given an eviction date)
Ground 7: under occupancy. Midland Heart aims to make the best use of our stock, and reduce under occupancy (in accordance with our allocations policy) where possible.
Ground 8: where the property is not suitable for your needs, including overcrowding (in accordance with our allocations policy).
Ground 11: where a property has a restriction, such as major accessibility adaptations, or where we have schemes that have a minimum age for residents (what you may know as “Over 55’s”). For these properties, we can only permit exchanges where the incoming tenants meet the relevant criteria.
If you have any further questions please submit them here