How to go about a council house exchange

What Size of House Can I Move Into?

Please be aware, as a council or housing association tenant, you cannot exchange for a house that is bigger than you need. Some councils may allow you one extra bedroom than you need but this is depends on availability and you may be subject to bedroom tax. Based on the size of your family the biggest property you can move to is:

  • 1 person - 1 bedroom property
  • 2 people (couple) - 1 bedroom property
  • 2 people (single / parent and child) - 2 bedroom property
  • 3 people - 2-3 bedroom property*
  • 4 /5 people - 2-3 bedroom property

How is bedroom entitlement calculated?

Parents/ couples are entitled to 1 room, and where they have just one child, they will be entitled to nothing bigger than a 2 bedroom property. In addition to the parents' room entitlement, *siblings are expected to share a room as per below, therefore entitlement differs;

  • Sisters under the age of 16 (entitled to 1 room)
  • Brothers under the age of 16 (entitled to 1 room)
  • Brother and Sister, both under the age of 10 (entitled to 1 room)
  • Brother (11) and Sister (7) (entitled to 2 rooms)

If you are in a housing association / council property with more bedrooms that you are entitled to, you will be subject to pay bedroom tax, or have his deducted from your housing benefit which is 14% of your rent. New court rulings mean that disabled tennents will be exempt from this charge, allowing an extra room for their carer.

What to Do If You Are Refused Permission to Exchange

Your council is legally obliged to tell you in writing the reasons why they are refusing your request for a council house exchange. If you disagree with their decision, you have the right to refer the decision to county court.

Exchanging Your Council House Through An Exchange Scheme

If your local council does not operate a council house exchange scheme, do not despair! You still have the right to exchange if you wish and there are organisations set up to help you do exactly that. Most of these council house exchange schemes charge a small fee for their services, some are free and almost all will offer an online forum where you can register your details and your requirements. It is much like placing an advert - interested people can then get in touch with each other. There are two main types of scheme available:

  1. Free Council House Exchange Schemes
  2. Paid for Council House Exchange Services

Free Council House Exchange Schemes

The internet really comes into its own when looking for a house swap. The following websites all provide services to people wishing to exchange their council house. As you can see there are quite a few to choose from!

  • Homeswapper - With over 500,000 social housing tennents registered, it's the largest and quickest exchange service avaialble in the UK.
  • Exchange UK - Database covering the entire UK. Free restricted access, or the option to pay for a premier membership account.
  • House Exchange - Database and forum covering a limited number of areas across the UK.
  • Northwards Housing - An online scheme solely dealing with house exchanges in the North Manchester area, organised by Manchester City Council.
  • RedMoves.co.uk - Mutual Homeswap Council Exchange Advertising Service for UK Social Housing Tenants living in Council and Housing Association Homes.
  • Exchange Locata - A direct, online social housing exchange service for tenants and landlords.

Paid for Council House Exchange Services

The following website offers a premium service, but you must pay to register. There are benefits to subscribing to a paid for service; for one thing, you expect fewer time-wasters or speculators if they have had to pay money just to post on the forums.

UK Homeswap - Claims to be the UK’s busiest council house exchange, housing association exchange and homeswap website.