Header text reading 'Mutual exchanges'

All you need to know about mutual exchanges

Please read the important information below before proceeding with a mutual exchange.

What is a mutual exchange?

Mutual exchange is a scheme for people who live in a housing association or council property, which they would like to swap with another tenant. They may wish to exchange for a larger or smaller property or move to a different location.

To do a mutual exchange, Bolton at Home and/or the other housing provider will need to give their consent to the person(s) listed as the tenant(s). There are some reasons why we might not give consent, and some of these are set out below.

You are not eligible if:

  • You are a new Bolton at Home customer with a period remaining on your 12-month starter tenancy. A starter tenancy is usually given to new tenants.
  • You have breached your tenancy and have rent arrears (both current or former).
  • You have a breach of tenancy, e.g., untidy garden, poor property condition (including damage), rechargeable repairs or antisocial behaviour.
  • You have breached your tenancy, damaged your home and we want you to carry out repairs first.
  • You've had a court order for possession made against you for breach of tenancy, or are under a notice of seeking possession of your home.
  • The property you want to move to would be too big or too small for the number of people involved.
  • The home you live in has been designed or adapted for people with physical disabilities.

We may also not give consent for the mutual exchange to proceed if the other exchanging tenant is ineligible.

Bolton at Home customers are able to join the HomeSwapper scheme, which is run online.

Some of the properties available are in the borough, but there are also many properties available in other parts of Greater Manchester and nationally.

Once you have registered online with the HomeSwapper website, you will have to create your property advert.

A mutual exchange is an important choice to consider. You have control over the type of properties you want to view and where you choose to live.

Although you have choice, you will also need to consider that you will at times have to compromise for something you need, as opposed to what you like.

The number one wish within mutual exchange from all residents is "I would like a house with a garden". Although this type of property does exist, not everyone chooses to exchange from this type of property.

To move into an ideal property, you may have to compromise on certain things to achieve a move.

If you'd like to speak to us about starting the mutual exchange process/to seek our consent, please phone 01204 328000 or email us using _HomefinderEnquiries@boltonathome.org.uk.

Once you have notified Bolton at Home of your intention to mutually exchange, providing full details of properties affected etc., Bolton at Home will arrange for an inspector to visit your home.

This inspection will be required in order for consent to be provided by Bolton at Home for the mutual exchange process to begin. If you are planning to exchange with a customer of another housing provider, their housing provider will also arrange for an inspection of their customer’s property. It is important that both Bolton at Home and the other housing provider give their consent for the mutual exchange to proceed.

A housing inspector will make an appointment to come out to see you in your current home. They will need to:

  • check out your current home and let you know if there are any repairs or other breaches of tenancy that need to be remedied before the exchange,
  • and complete a reference for you for the other landlord.

We may also need to contact your exchange partner and double check we’re happy with their reference. Consent must be obtained in respect of all customers in order for the mutual exchange to proceed.

HomeSwapper logo

What is HomeSwapper?

HomeSwapper is an online service that helps connect tenants who are looking to move house and want to do a mutual exchange. It is a free service if you're a Bolton at Home tenant.

You can search for homes by area, and you'll usually be able to see photographs of what's available. You can sign up for email or text alerts when new homes come up that match your criteria. Tap the link below if you'd like see how it works.

Steps to create your advert on HomeSwapper

Tap on the tiles below for details on each step:

When creating your advert, be careful to plan what you want to say and prepare any pictures beforehand so that you can get the best possible results.

Take care to gather the necessary factual information for each aspect of the property so you have it to hand when creating your showpiece advert.

Start by thinking what you like about your property, for example “I have very nice views, the heating bills are reasonable, there is plenty of storage space, large gardens”.

Make sure all of the details within the advert are correct and that the explanations and statements are true.

Potential “exchangers” are relying on your information to give them a very clear picture of your property in their minds. Remember, first impressions are crucial.

Provide as much information about your property as you can.

Think about all the positive points: the size of the property, the features it has, and what you like about it.

You will need to explain the area in detail, as you may have people looking at your property who do not know the area very well.

Again, mention the positives, for example, five minutes from nearest shops/school etc. and/or bus stop that takes you into central Bolton within 15 minutes. The more accurate information you provide, the more interest you will receive from other home seekers.

Note: adverts with basic information will not have as much interest from applicants as those where the adverts have been completed in full.

Having photographs of your property can increase the chance of applicants taking an interest in it.

Ensure you have good quality photographs of your property that are not more than 1MB in size.

Tip: before you take the photographs, you may want to tidy the rooms and ensure that no clutter can be seen. You may want to try and take the photographs when it is sunny so that your home looks at its best.

Header text reading 'Visiting a property'

Putting your safety first

When you have arranged to visit a property, if possible, let a friend or family member know where you are going to visit and at what time.

If you would like a friend or family member to go along with you, you should let the person you are visiting know that you will be accompanied.

You need to be sure about a property- after all, it could potentially be your new home.

Make as many appointments as you need- including weekends and evenings- before you make the decision to go ahead with a move.

Before you visit a property, make a checklist of all your priorities and the things you want to find out. These could include:

  • How much is the rent?
  • What sort of tenancy will I be offered?
  • Would I be able to buy the property from the Council or housing association?
  • How many bedrooms does it have?
  • What are the local schools like?
  • Is there allocated parking and if not, is it easy to park?
  • Are transport links good?
  • How far is it to the nearest station or bus stop?
  • What are the neighbours like?
  • If there is a garden, what size is it and is it private or shared?
  • What’s going on in the local community?
  • Where are the nearest shops and other amenities?
  • What kind of heating does it have and does it suit me?
  • Does it need decorating?
  • What repairs are outstanding and who is responsible?
  • When would the current residents want to move out?
  • What will my new landlord be like?
  • What items (such as curtains/curtain rails, carpets, or white goods) do the current residents plan to take with them?**

    **Please note:
    we can’t be held responsible for any defective left over items or appliances (like white goods). For this reason, we’d recommend that customers do not leave any white goods behind as part of an exchange.

Make sure you take a good look round when you go to view the property, as you will be accepting the property ‘as seen’.

It is your responsibility to thoroughly check the condition of the property you are thinking of exchanging to. If there are things that need repairing, they will need agreeing with the exchanging tenant and they will need to report and arrange these repairs with their landlord before you exchange.

As part of your visit(s), be sure to check for any potential issues relating to damp, condensation, and mould. If you spot any, make sure you ask the tenant if they've notified their landlord and if a solution to the problems has been agreed.

It is always a good idea to arrange a mutual viewing with the exchanging tenant prior to submitting the mutual exchange request to Bolton at Home and only proceeding with the mutual exchange once you are satisfied following the viewing and agreements made with the other exchanging tenant.

Tip: if- whilst viewing the property- you identify any repairs, ask if the repair has been reported by the current tenant, request proof if needed or date of any repair appointments.

The exchanging tenant should also be asked if they are aware of any future, planned works or major or structural works for the property as this may need to be taken into consideration. For example, if works are planned that will require some level of disruption to your household for a period of time.

Important: if there is anything you are unsure about or concerned about, you must ask the exchanging tenant. This is your opportunity to be assured that the proposed mutual exchange will be the right move for you.

It is strongly recommended that both customers wishing to mutually exchange with one another undertake a written agreement that states that they will leave the property clean, remove all items from the property including any garden areas etc., and provide information relating to any outstanding repairs that have been reported etc.

Bolton at Home are not able to intervene if any agreements are not upheld or if no agreements are in place. If a customer leaves a property in poor condition, i.e., not cleaned/items left, Bolton at Home are not responsible for the ‘condition’ of the property and may not able to carry out works to rectify.

Here are some final things to consider when you visit a property:

  • If you have pets, will the landlord of the property you are looking to exchange to accept animals?
  • Is the property the right size for you? If you might be under-occupying or over-occupying the property you are looking to exchange to, the application may be rejected.
  • Will you inherit any repairs that are the responsibility of the tenant?
  • What repairs has your proposed new landlord agreed to carry out? What will be the responsibility of the outgoing tenants to repair/replace?
  • Does the heating type suit your needs?
  • Does it need decorating? If so, you will need to consider this when budgeting as you will not receive a decorating allowance for a mutual exchange.
  • What are the local amenities like?
  • If you have children, what are the schools like? Are there places available?
  • Will exchanging affect your tenancy type?

Other ideas:

  • Take a copy of the advert with you, so you are able to make comparisons with what was offered.
  • It may be useful to take a pen and paper with you so that you can draw the layout of the property. You then have a record of what the property looks like.
  • Take a map of the area so that you can highlight where local amenities are located- for example, shops and transport. This will help you to identify the distance from the property.
  • Try to visit the area at different times of the day so that you have an idea of whether it is a quiet or a busy, noisy area to move to.
  • If possible, meet the neighbours and speak with them.
  • Bear in mind that it is your responsibility to check the condition of the home you are moving to and have the current tenant arrange for their landlord to carry out any outstanding repairs before you move.

Need to speak to us about a mutual exchange?

You can speak to us about mutual exchanges by calling 01204 328000 or emailing _HomefinderEnquiries@boltonathome.org.uk.

Download our Mutual Exchanges leaflet

Want to print out or download a handy guide on Mutual Exchanges? Download our Mutual Exchanges leaflet here:  Mutual-Exchange-leaflet-January-2024-[pdf]-955KB

Header text reading 'Frequently asked questions'

Here are some of the questions we're often asked about mutual exchanges:

An exchange of homes between two households living in social housing.

Within the United Kingdom, Council and housing association secure and assured tenants have the right to exchange their homes to homes suitable for them and their families. You will need written permission from your landlords before you can exchange.

Up to 42 days in most cases- but this can take longer.

It depends on your exchange, how many parties are involved and whether you are moving long distance or moving within the local area.

It can take up to 42 days from the day all parties involved hand in their mutual exchange forms, to their landlords agreeing the exchange and giving them permission to move.


You will not be able to exchange your property if:

  • there is a possession order in force against you or the other incoming tenant, possession proceedings have been started or/and a notice seeking possession has been served upon you or the incoming tenant.
  • the property you want to exchange to is too big or too small for your requirements.
  • for example, if you currently qualify for a one bedroom property and want to swap to a two bedroom property, but your circumstances have not changed.
  • the property has been specifically designed or adapted for you because of a physical disability and the person you want to swap or a member of their household does not have the same needs.

Full details can be obtained from your landlord.


Tenants must pay all of their rent including any arrears before a mutual exchange can be permitted.

Yes and no.

There is no charge for paperwork completion. Bolton at Home will not charge you for processing your mutual exchange application forms. Removal costs will not be covered.

Some of the advantages of mutual exchanges are that:

  • You can exchange with another tenant inside or outside of the borough.
  • You can exchange with a housing association tenant.
  • You may avoid a lengthy wait for a transfer.
  • You can thoroughly inspect the other property and be sure it is suitable for your family before seeking approval.

There are also some disadvantages:

  • You have to accept the property in its present condition.
  • The other party can pull out at any time, right up until you move.
  • Only essential repairs will be undertaken by Bolton at Home or another housing association within one year of the exchange.


Do not offer any cash incentives in return for an exchange. It is illegal and you and your family could be evicted from your property.


Do not offer any rewards in return for an exchange. It is illegal and you and your family could be evicted from your property.


You will need to arrange to pay for your own removal expenses. The cheapest option for families on a low income is self-drive 7.5 ton lorries which can be driven on a full UK driving licence which you must have held for a minimum of 12 months.


You will need to arrange transport for you and your family to get to your new location. You could ask friends, family, volunteer groups, or use public transport.


You can move on any day once you have been given a date by the landlords. It must be in agreement with the other tenants involved and the date should not be altered once agreed.


You are expected to pay all costs incurred by you and your family to move to your new home. You can buy strong packing boxes online or from high street shops or ask local shops to save boxes for you as a free alternative. You could also join a free online site like Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) and request them.


The landlord will not usually decorate between one person leaving and another moving in. You will have to arrange to decorate the home yourself as you have made an agreement to accept the property in the condition you viewed it in.

Discuss any repairs with the landlord before you agree to exchange. Do not rely on advice from the person moving out that the repairs will be done.

You may be able to.

You cannot swap back into your old home unless the tenant who swapped with you is in agreement, you will then both have to start the exchange process again from scratch and wait for a decision from both landlords.

Some of the benefits of mutual exchanges

Slideshow header image reading 'You're in control'.
When you do a mutual exchange, you're in control.
Slideshow header image reading 'You'll have more choice'.
You have a greater choice of properties compared to waiting on the housing register.
Slideshow header image reading 'It could improve your chances of a move'.
If you don't qualify for the housing register, it may offer more choice and will improve your chances of a move.
Slideshow header image reading 'It can be quicker'.
It can be quicker than other rehousing options.
Slideshow header image reading 'Move anywhere'.
You can move anywhere.
Slideshow header image reading 'Be sure'.
You can thoroughly inspect the other property and be sure it is suitable for your family before seeking approval.