What is a mutual exchange?

A mutual exchange is when two or more tenants who want to move from their current home swap homes, once they have the permission of all landlords involved. Given the shortage of available homes in Tower Hamlets, for many tenants this is their best prospect for moving.

Partner landlords in the borough have drawn up a charter to promote best practice in dealing with mutual exchanges within Tower Hamlets. The Mutual Exchange Charter has 8 main objectives all aimed at encouraging tenants looking to move to find someone to swap their home with. You can view the charter here.

How does it work?

  • To find a mutual exchange you can register on either of these websites.
    House Exchange

    Please note these are national websites and are free to Tower Hamlets Council tenants.  For partner Landlord tenants, please check your Landlord's website for further information on exchanges.
  • If you are put in touch with a partner, neither of you are under an obligation to agree, nor will it affect your housing application if you refuse to swap.
  • If you do find a partner to exchange with you must apply for permission.
  • If you are a council tenant who swaps homes with another council tenant in the borough whose home is too small for their family, the Council will help you with the costs of swapping provided that your partner needs your size of home. For partner Landlord tenants, please check with your Landlord.


Can your landlord say no to a mutual exchange?

Legally, your landlord can only say no to your request to exchange for a limited number of reasons:

  • That either tenant is moving to a home that is inadequate for their needs, e.g. on health grounds, or that it would be too small.
  • That either tenant is moving to a home that is substantially too large for their requirements. Your landlord will usually agree to your moving to a home that has one bedroom more than you need, but no bigger.
  • That there is a current order for possession made by the court in respect of any of the tenancies involved.
  • That any of the properties are adapted, sheltered, warden-controlled or is some type of special needs unit, and the tenant moving in to the property is not eligible for or does not need it.
  • That the accommodation is tied.
  • That the landlord is a charity and the proposed occupation would conflict with their aims.
  • That any of the tenants has been issued with a notice of seeking possession.
  • One party has paid money to the other party to induce the exchange.

Your landlord may say that you cannot swap tenancies straightaway if, for example, you owe rent, or there are repairs needed to the property that you have to carry out. However, once these matters have been sorted out, they should say yes.

Your landlord is obliged to tell you in writing the reasons why they are saying no to your request. Whatever the decision, you should be told within 42 days of requesting to exchange. You have a right to refer the decision to the county court if you disagree with it.