If you follow my social media accounts, you’ll know that we have recently moved to a new home. I don’t own our home, our current and previous home are owned by a local housing association. In order to move, I had to go through the process of house exchange which had both highs and lows. Today I thought I’d share our experience of house exchange for those who are considering a similar process.
I should probably start by explaining what a house exchange actually is. When living in a council or housing association owned property, you usually have to be classed as over-crowded to be able to move to a new home. However, if you are not classed as over-crowded, you can exchange homes, provided that both homes are suitable, with another council or housing association tenant.
In my area, there are quite a few Facebook groups for house exchanges. I was lucky enough to find an exchange on one of the Facebook groups, but I also signed up to an official house exchange website. It’s important to check that any sites you use to search for a house exchange are recommended by your local council or housing association. The last thing you want is your details on an untrustworthy site.
It can take weeks, months, or even years to find a house exchange opportunity. I had prepared myself to be searching endlessly for a new home in our area. Thankfully, I found a suitable exchange within a week of considering a move. Many others are not quite so lucky. You may want to move out of the area, or downsize. The chances of finding a mutual exchange rely on the probability of another family wanting your home, in your area. Searching for a house exchange can be incredibly frustrating, but I am proof that it can be successful.
Once I had found a family who were interested in my home, and I in theirs, we arranged a viewing of each property. We then submitted our paperwork to the housing association. Unfortunately, even if you do find a mutual exchange opportunity suitable for your needs, it will still need to be approved by your landlord. Both myself and the other tenant submitted our paperwork, which was simple and easy to complete, and then the waiting game began.
I hadn’t realised quite how long the process of approval would be. I naively assumed that our landlord would give us the go ahead quickly. However, in total it took 8 weeks from when we submitted our paperwork to move. First of all you’ll need to wait for your paperwork to be received, reviewed and approved/declined. Once a provisional decision has been made, you’ll have to arrange gas and electricity safety checks for your current home. Once those checks are complete, you’ll need to arrange with your landlord and the other tenant a date and time to complete the final pieces of house exchange paperwork and transfer of tenancy. Usually you’ll have to sign the final pieces of paperwork the day before you move.
I know it sounds reasonably straight forward. However, between waiting for appointments for energy safety checks, packing and arranging your move, the house exchange process can be quite stressful. Until the final pieces of paperwork were signed, I felt a lingering sense of uncertainty. It was exhausting waiting 7-8 weeks of living in limbo, not knowing what, and when, anything would happen.
When the energy checks were completed, everything seemed to go from 0-100. The ball was finally rolling and within 10 days of the final checks being done, we were in our new home. This was mainly due to the fact that both myself and the other tenant wanted to be in our new homes and settled before Christmas. You will be able to choose a date that is suitable for both parties. It’s important to bear in mind that you will find yourself doing a lot of waiting during the house exchange process. Each council, housing association and process is different.
Before you apply for a house exchange, research your landlords exchange process so that you know what to expect. If I could offer one piece of advice to anyone considering a house exchange, it would be to be patient.
We absolutely love our new home. Slowly but surely we are making it ours thanks to my love of DIY and obsession with interiors. Our new home was worth the wait and stress of the house exchange process. I hope that you have as much success with your house exchange as we have with ours.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or queries about exchanging council or housing association owned properties. If I can’t answer your question, I can point you in the right direction!
If you have already been through the house exchange process, I’d love to hear about your experience. Was it smooth sailing or a complete nightmare? Was it easy to find a new home, or were you waiting for a long time? Comment below.