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So, do you come here often?

By J

The DCLG has just published new guidance (available here) on promoting mutual exchange. This is, we are told, an under-used process which can bring happiness and joy to landlords and tenants. For the latter, it is a more realistic option for securing a move than waiting for a transfer and can also help tenants be closer to friends, family and social and healthcare facilities (interesting, being closer to work or educational opportunities isn’t mentioned, which is odd given that the government wants to introduce a “right to move” for such purposes; perhaps they forgot their own policy?). For landlords, it helps with efficient use of stock and is a way of addressing rent-arrears (apparently; presumably they mean the bedroom tax).

The problem, according to the government, is that no-one knows enough about mutual exchange. And so landlords are encouraged to explain the benefits to tenants and make a clear “business case” for them exercising the right (oh the romance). There needs to be partnership working between authorities and housing associations and, most importantly, campaigning work to raise tenant awareness.

On this latter point, the guidance suggests road shows, information stands at shopping centres and, best of all, “speed dating” events. I confess, this did make me laugh. You may not be able to afford to live in your house, but at least you’ll get a date. Just don’t go too far down the Dutch courage route before the speed dating event, or you may find you get served with an ASBI. And definitely don’t try and chat up your housing officer.

At the risk of being controversial, rather than anodyne press releases dressed up as guidance, wouldn’t it be more useful to, oh, I don’t know, build more social housing?


J is a barrister. He considers housing law to be the single greatest kind of law known to humankind and finds it very odd that so few people share this view.


  1. DaftAida

    Romance, indeed in my long and tiresome experience spanning 15 years wanting to move.. Homeswap started out OK as there was a backlaog of frustrated tenants who’d been waiting to move. H/A’s were not efficient at transfers or swaps and by the same a sensible response was in place it was outsourced to Homeswap. Those still on the priority transfer list could continue, under the new scheme of ‘multiple choice’ – this is limited within the current landlord and their area, so not useful if wanting to change landlord and region.

    It’s so much hype with Social Housing management companies providing fewer usueful services, whilst implementing Government policies on social engineering.

    Swapping home sounds simple and only a question of time. Even with compromises, finding a match is tricky and with ASB neighbours, successful swapping came to a standstill. Most swappers are exacting and have unreasonable expectations. My flat is highly desirable as is the area compared with many swappers who are far less likely to find a match. Many swappers want to move due to problem neighbours or landlord, so it’s out of the frying pan into the fire.

  2. Early Bird

    ‘Build more social housing’ what crazy left wing ideas are you going to come up with next! Succesive governments have managed quite well by moving the deckchairs round and round.

  3. Laura | Dutch Law Firm AMS

    [Deleted by J – WTAF]


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