How do I go about swapping my home?

Find out more about swapping your home with our frequently asked questions.

1. Who can apply for a swap?

You can apply for a swap if:

  • you live in permanent, self-contained accommodation (for example, a flat or a house)
  • you rent your home from the council or a housing association and have a Scottish Secure Tenancy (SST)
  • the tenant you wish to exchange with rents their home from the council or a housing association and also has an SST (this condition may be waived if the tenant lives in England, Wales or Northern Ireland)
  • both you, and the person you want to swap with, have permission from your landlords
2. What do I need to do to swap with another tenant?

You can use our website or another swap site (such as Homeswapper) to find someone to swap with.

Once you've found a swap you MUST contact your landlord and check that they will let you swap your home. This is very important, as you could be evicted for swapping without permission. Melville will not turn down applications for a swap without good reason. Reasons we might refuse include:

  • if you owe rent
  • if the proposed move will cause overcrowding
  • a poor tenancy reference
  • if you live in a medically adapted property and the person you want to swap with doesn't need the adaptations
3. Will I have to pay a fee?

Not if you use Melville's Swap service. There are, however, other services available, some of which do charge a small fee.

4. What happens once I've found someone to swap with?

Once you've found a suitable property, it's up to you to get in touch with the current tenant and arrange a time when you can view their home and they can view yours. You'll also need to discuss with them whether or not you definitely want to swap. Whatever you do, don't offer the other tenant any financial incentives to make the swap, and don't accept any bribes from them. This is illegal.

5. What kind of tenancy will I have?

If you are moving to another council or housing association home in Scotland, you will probably still have a Scottish Secure Tenancy (SST). However, if you are exchanging with a tenant in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you will get a different kind of tenancy, with different rights. This can affect things like:

  • the amount of rent you pay and how this can be increased
  • how easily you can be evicted
  • whether or not you have the right to buy your home

If you're not swapping with another Melville tenant, ask the person you're swapping with what kind of tenancy they have and find about their rights.

6. If I swap with another tenant in Scotland will the terms of my new tenancy agreement be exactly the same?

Not necessarily. Even if you are staying in Scotland, the terms of your new tenancy agreement may not be exactly the same as your old one. For example, check:

  • how much rent you will have to pay
  • whether there are any other special conditions, such as a 'no pets' rule
  • if there are any repairs that need doing? If so, check that your new landlord will carry them out
7. Will my benefits be affected?

They might be. If you are claiming Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, the amount you receive may change when you move to a different property. Check before you agree the swap.

8. What questions do I need to ask before swapping?

Once you've found a suitable property, there are a number of things you should ask before agreeing to the exchange. These include:

  • Ask how much bills are for electricity, gas, council tax, etc. If you are moving to a larger home, they will probably be higher than you are used to.
  • Does the current tenant have any rent arrears? Be careful that you don't agree to pay any rent arrears built up by the current tenant. Check with their landlord if you're not sure.
  • Has the current tenant made any improvements or alterations to the property (for example, fitting a new kitchen or bathroom)? if so check that they had written permission from their landlord. If not, this could cause problems for you when the landlord finds out.
  • Make sure you and the person you're swapping with are clear about which fixtures and fittings belong to the property and which belong to you. This could include carpets, curtains and blinds, light fittings and white goods (fridge, freezer, washing machine, etc).
9. What about the right to buy?

The right to buy has now been abolished in Scotland and there are also plans to abolish it in Wales as well. However if you swap with a tenant in England you might get the right to buy. If this is important to you, you'll need to find this out before agreeing to swap.

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