You can swap your home with another council or housing association tenant in Lambeth or anywhere else in the country, provided your landlord agrees.
This is known as a mutual exchange. Both partners in the exchange will need to obtain permission from their respective landlords for the exchange to go ahead.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Mutual exchange
- 2. Seaside and Country Homes (SCH)
- 3. Helping you move to a smaller property
- 4. Wheelchair adapted properties
- 5. Mobility-standard housing
1. Mutual exchange
Benefits of mutual exchange
- It provides a broader range of choices regarding the size, type and location of your home.
- It gives you the opportunity to find a home that is suitable for the needs of you and your family.
- If you consider swapping with someone outside of London, you may benefit from a cheaper cost of living.
Who qualifies for this service
Anyone living in council or housing association accommodation can exchange their home subject to approval from both landlords.
Tenants of private landlords, homeowners and people living in shared ownership properties do not qualify for the scheme
Arrange a mutual exchange
A mutual exchange can be arranged independently. There is no formal application process if you do it this way. Both applicants' landlords will however need to give their approval. You should contact your landlord directly for more information.
Tips for success at mutual exchange
The exchange is more likely to be successful if:
- you try to be as flexible as possible about the area and type of property you consider to increase your chances of finding a suitable swap partner
- both parties are interested in an exchange, arrangements should be made for a mutually convenient time for a viewing
- you make sure you know what kind of tenancy you will be taking on as there are differences between local authority and housing association tenancies (your landlord will be able to advise you on this)
- you are interested in eventually buying the property, check you are able as many housing associations homes cannot be bought by tenants
- you make sure you can afford the removal expenses. If you are claiming income support, you could qualify for a Budgeting loan.
If you give or receive money or goods to secure an exchange, or exchange without your landlord's permission you could be evicted and even fined
Mutual exchange websites
Lambeth House Exchange is a free mutual exchange website to find someone to exchange with.
You can also find potential exchange partners at HomeSwapper, which charges a small fee.
2. Seaside and Country Homes (SCH)
Seaside and Country Homes (SCH) is a national scheme providing council and housing association tenants with an opportunity to move to the seaside or country, freeing homes in high demand in London. The scheme has about 3,500 flats and bungalows located across the country.
Who qualifies for this scheme
Lambeth Council and housing association tenants who can live independently without support who are:
- applicants (including joint applicants) over 60 years old
- applicants moving from an under-occupied home or a property that can help the council meet local housing needs.
Benefits of the scheme
- have a choice regarding the size, type and location of your home
- may benefit from a cheaper cost of living by moving out of London
- will help someone less fortunate by making your home available to someone who is homeless or in housing need
- may still qualify for benefits, even if you have savings or private pensions, if you move.
Apply for the scheme
- complete a registration form on the housing moves website
- your details will be entered onto a national mobility database
- applications for the scheme are considered using a points system.
The number of points an applicant is awarded depends on personal circumstances, such as the size and location of the current property and the level of housing needs within the borough.
The application process
- When a property becomes available, it is offered to the applicant with the most points, who will be invited to view the property.
- If the applicant decides not to take it, the next applicant on the list will be given the opportunity to visit the property and so on, until the property is let.
- All applicants will be made a second offer if the first property does not suit them, or if the timing of the offer is particularly inconvenient, e.g. hospital treatment, family bereavement.
- Only three properties in total will be offered, after which the applicant will be removed from the scheme.
- The position on the list will vary as applicants with larger properties are always given priority in order to assist the local housing needs.
- Cats and dogs are usually allowed in bungalows and flats with private entrances but not allowed in flats with communal entrances.
- Permission to keep a Hearing or Guide Dog is likely to be granted providing there is responsible dog ownership and no nuisance is caused to other residents.
Important considerations before you decide to move:
Before you decide if this scheme is right for you, it is important that you consider the following:
- some properties may be isolated from shops and local or cultural services
- public transport may be less frequent
- it may be difficult to leave family and cultural ties behind in London
- once you move through the scheme, moving back to council or housing association housing in London is not always possible and you may wait for a long time to be relocated.
Tenants do not have the right to buy their SCH property
Seaside and Country Homes
3rd floor, City Hall
The Queens Walk
Telephone: 08450 21 20 20
3. Helping you move to a smaller property
The Council urgently needs larger properties for families who are living in overcrowded or unsuitable homes. So we have a number of incentives in place to encourage under-occupiers to downsize. We also encourage people to move to general purpose accommodation if they no longer require their wheelchair-adapted property.
Benefits of downsizing from your current home may include:
- reduced utility bills and council tax
- a more suitable property for your needs
- a more manageable house
- a home closer to family, friends and work
- the chance for a new beginning in a new home
We do not currently have enough larger and wheelchair-adapted homes to meet demand in Lambeth
What are the incentives?
Lambeth tenants who are under-occupiers could get the following incentives depending on how they move:
- Transfer Incentive Scheme: Under-occupiers are given very high priority to bid for a smaller property. We normally offer £500 for each bedroom an under-occupier gives up. We will also pay removal expenses and the costs of disconnecting and reconnecting gas and electricity supplies for those who move through Choice Based Lettings (within Lambeth and up to the value of £500).
- Under-occupiers can also bid for both their Allowed Property Size and one bedroom larger, provided that they are still downsizing. But they cannot be nominated to most Housing Association properties which are larger than their Allowed Property Size.
- To be considered for this scheme, please contact your area office and make a transfer application. They will then give you a bidding number and you can bid online each week for properties that you may be interested in.
If you move through Choice Based Lettings we will pay for reasonable removal costs if the move is within Lambeth
Who qualifies for this scheme?
- Lambeth Council tenants
- You must be living in a property with two or more bedrooms and want to move to a property with fewer bedrooms
- Alternatively you may be living in a wheelchair-adapted property, which you no longer require and want to move to general-purpose accommodation
- You must have adhered to the conditions of your tenancy
- You must have no rent arrears, or be willing to agree with the council that the incentive can be used as payment to clear any arrears you do have
Tips for bidding:
- Applying does not commit you to anything and you will have the final say about where you move.
- You can bid for council or housing association homes.
- You may be able to move more quickly if you bid as widely and regularly as possible.
- If you are aged 60 or over, or 55 and over with a disability, you can bid for a property in a Sheltered Housing Scheme, subject to eligibility.
- Properties are advertised on a weekly cycle. New advertisements appear on Wednesdays showing the weeks available properties. You then have until Midnight on the following Sunday to bid for a property. You can bid at any time in this period.
- Bidding is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and we will make a shortlist of the highest bidders and invite them to view the property.
Downsizing through Mutual exchange
We will also offer an incentive to applicants who downsize through home swaps. Tenants who downsize by swapping with an overcrowded family, will qualify for a cash incentive of £500 per bedroom given up.
Tenants who move this way will not normally be eligible for assistance with removals. Contact your area office to discuss if any move you are planning is eligible for the downsizing incentive.
Lambeth council tenants looking for a home swap can register free at www.houseexchange.org.uk
Another swap website is www.homeswapper.co.uk but applicants will be charged a small fee to register.
You can also register for free for the Lambeth housing management mutual exchange swap shop at https://housingmanagement.lambeth.gov.uk/swap-shop-register
If you are a Lambeth tenant who is interested in moving to another London Borough and have had a clear rent account for at least two years, you can register with the pan-London mobility scheme Housingmoves
If you downsize through that scheme, we will give you £500 incentive money per bedroom given up, first put towards any arrears. However you will not qualify for assistance with removal expenses.
Claims for any incentive payment must be made within 28 days of moving.
Payments under £1001 will be made via the post office. Payments over this amount will be paid into your bank account, once details have been provided. The payment process can take up to 28 working days once started, and money will first be put towards any arrears on your rent account.
The incentive fund is cash limited and may be stopped or reduced at any time. Assistance with removals is not covered unless agreed in advance.
The cash incentive is only available for moves through the Lambeth Choice Base Lettings scheme, Mutual Exchange and Housing Moves and is not available if your move to a smaller home independently.
4. Wheelchair adapted properties
Wheelchair adapted properties are homes that have been specifically adapted for people with physical disabilities. Some are purpose-built while others have been adapted to suit the individual needs of a tenant.
This type of housing is specifically built or adapted for permanent wheelchair users. Features include:
- self contained houses or flats located on the ground floor
- wider doorways and passages to allow wheelchair users to move around comfortably
- some bathrooms have walk-in showers with built-in seating and others have baths with hoists that allow the user to be lowered into the bath
- kitchen units are lower for easy access and electrical switches and sockets are within easy reach
- some adapted houses have lifts, giving the wheelchair user the freedom to move around their home.
Contact your Area Housing Office for more information. Please note that the cash incentive is only available for moves through our Choice Based Lettings scheme and is not available if your move to a smaller home independently.
5. Mobility-standard housing
The type of adaptation found in a mobility-standard home depends on the disability of the person living there. It can have:
- ramps outside the home
- handrails in corridors and bathrooms
- toilets that have been raised
- stairlifts for people living in houses and maisonettes.
Anyone on the housing register can apply for an adapted property
Applying for an adapted property
To access wheelchair and mobility housing, you need to be medically assessed as suitable by a community occupational therapist and a medical assessment officer who will then recommend the type of home we can offer you. The medical recommendation is noted on your application and you will be able to bid for suitable properties through Choice Based Lettings.
- If you are a private tenant, you must register for a council property.
- If you are already on our Housing Register, contact your caseworker who will arrange for a medical assessment.
- If you are applying for the first time, one of the questions on the application form asks if anyone in your home has a disability. If you answer 'yes' to this question, your caseworker will arrange for a medical assessment to be carried out.
Benefits of wheelchair and mobility housing:
- allows you to move to a home that has been specifically adapted to meet the needs of people with disabilities
- adaptations can be made to help you remain in your own home, promoting a stable home environment and maintaining local connections.
For further advice about this scheme, please contact:
Housing Options and Advice Service
Telephone: 020 7926 4200