Your Mutual Exchange – Remember it’s Taken as Seen so do the checks first

I have so many members (and non-members) telling me how they have problems with repairs after exchanging properties. Some seem to be general repairs like a broken window handle and other repairs are more serious like holes in walls and broken electrics.

So you are going to view the property. Hopefully you will view it more than once, but either way please take note of a few things. If the current tenant doesn’t want you looking around (in cupboards and under sinks etc) ask why? Certainly act with a bit of caution.

I suggest that you check the:
Condition of walls and ceiling plaster (cracks,
holes in interior walls)
Operation of central heating and heaters
(ensure all radiators heat up and the tenant
shows you how to use them)
Operation/condition of windows and check
for missing/broken handles/catches. Are all
the window lock keys available?
Condition of doors (surface damage and
Condition of electrical fittings (light switches
and fittings, sockets, extractor fans, alarms)
Condition of kitchen units (check for loose
doors and drawer fronts, check everything
Condition of plumbing items generally (check
sinks, basins, bath and WCs for leaks, test
taps and flush WCs, dripping taps)
Finally and most importantly, check with the
current occupier which items they intend to
take with them when they move out. There
have been occasions when tenants have
fitted their own gas fire, for example, and
taken it when they leave.
Result: new occupier had no gas fire!!
If possible take photos.
Also, make a list of things that are being left. Make sure both parties sign this.

In theory, landlords should inspect each property. The landlords should then have their own list. In practice, I am not aware of any statistics that are available to show that landlords really do a complete a thorough check. The problems arise for tenants when some do the check and stick to it rigidly, thus the new tenant can’t have any repairs done for quite a while. I have heard of one case – “No repairs for three years”!
Other landlords are more flexible.
But you have to remember, that when you agree to exchange your property you do so on the premise that it is “Taken as Seen”. So if you don’t look properly, you won’t know of any problems that may be hiding and that may come back to haunt you at a later date. If the current tenant says that they are due a new bathroom or kitchen etc – ask for the paperwork.

I am not saying that you shouldn’t trust anyone – just take a few precautions. Do your own checks. If no time – ask to come back again. Ask for the landlords copy of their inspection results as well.

Most exchanges go well but please be prepared when viewing. This could be the house of your dreams. For some – its been a nightmare.


  1. Sharon Thomas

    I did a Mutual Exchange, looked around the property that I wanted to swap with and all seemed ok. What a disaster once I moved in. Shower not working, no water going in to washing machine, kitchen wall cupboards taken down leaving black mould on walls, control valves on radiators either broken or unable to turn valves off so heating on in every room which is not what I want broken window in childrens bedroom ( I didn’t see this as blinds where closed). Yet the Council have told me that they will not repair or fix. My home that I swapped with I had lived there for 19 years and I have given up a beautiful home for this property with so much problems. I am registered disable on my own and no one to turn to. Please any advise in what I can do?

  2. Admin Deb

    Unfortunately you are one of the tenants that I was talking about above. You will have signed papers saying you take the property as seen.
    The only thing you can do is ring your landlord and ask:
    1) after what length of time do they start repairing the property
    2)Ask to see the inspection report
    3) If they still refuse to do the basics (like the shower) threaten to take them to court under the disability discrimination act.
    4) Take the previous tenants to court (civil action to claim the costs of the repairs you have had to pay for yourself because of the damage that they did before they left).

    Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but landlords are increasingly cracking down on this situation.

  3. Ms J Thomas

    Not sure if this is the right place to add my comment, but I recently did a swap in December 2011.

    I don’t have any repair problems I have bill problems and want to know if there is any way I can have my swap reversed and return to my old flat?

    The person I swapped with has lied through his teeth about the cost of running this property. I asked on my first visit if there was a water meter and about 3 or 4 times afterwards and each time he told me No.

    Being profoundly deaf I took the tenants word for rent which was £10 more than he stated only realised when I went to sign the contracts. Council tax is £30 more than he stated, I found out after moving in and received my council tax bill. Heating & hot water he stated was £3 per month due to the fact there was solar power in the whole premises, costs me around £20-£25 pm.
    Water he stated as £10 per month, This works out to £30.

    He has just lied all the way through this swap and he should not be allowed to get away with this should he?

    After going to a friends aid due to her finding a water meter, I came home to check my shared hallway cupboards only to find a water meter? ( I’d never seen one before so did not know what to look for)
    So have lived in the flat 63 days without a meter reading and today received my first water bill for 52 days £58.50.
    It also seems the previous tenant when he knew he was leaving has amassed many bills and just not paid any of them my letter box is filled every day with what I can only assume are final demands most you can see are from debt collection agencies, I’ve had bailiffs calling round to remove items due to his outstanding debts.

    This flat is a one bedroom new build and he was the first and only tenant but all these bills and bailiffs are for at least 5 differently named people.

    He told me the reason he needed to move was because his father was dying of cancer and I have since found this to be untrue, I was shocked.

    This is just a nightmare and I just want to go back to my old flat and live in peace.

    Are home swappers allowed to do this? behave in this way and get away with it it is disgusting.

    I have most of the text messages he has sent me so there is proof to what I am saying, and also the paper he wrote down the monthly running costs for me

    Please can someone anyone advise me.

  4. Admin Deb

    You cannot swap back Julia. However, as long as you have your tenancy agreement to hand, no bailiff can take anything from you. You should NOT have let them in – you should just point them to your old address. Any further bills for the old tenant just forward to your old address or send back to the company involved explaining where the customer is.
    Nothing you can do about the bills I’m afraid. A water meter is good for a single person. Some people are just scammers.
    I do hope things get better for you.

  5. susan

    i did mutual xchange and i am not in good health when i moved in to her house i found plaster work all damage on walls and cracks all in side kitchen coupbords damp and damage and big hole in the kichen work top the house is 80 years old and kitchen has not be change since whats my rights susan

  6. sean

    I am in the process of a exchange, The person i am swapping with needs alot of repairs done on there house. After the 42 days , if the house is not up to standard by the deadline, can we still move or is it classed as a no and we have to start over again and do all of the repairs, Thank you

  7. april

    Sean, I would like to know more about this too. How did you get on? My father only needs to get a job number for an old electric heater in bathroom to be replaced but other person involved in exchange has to put cupboard doors etc back on and have a final inspection. Does this mean my Dad would also have final inspection? Also have they approved exchange before Inspections or is that done after?
    Any advise would be grateful Thank you

  8. katy


    i swapped 2 years ago and i had leaking bathroom and kitchen taps, fans not working, door handles broken (lady took them and didnt say) mould problem.. i got all the repairs fixed didnt have to wait they did it straight away. the mould 2 years later finally sorted thanks to me not my housing.

  9. Lynne

    I exchanged in August 2013 and I took a list of repairs. I was told that these repairs I had were ones that should have been carried out before exchanging as they were also on their list of what the tenant had to do. It was also stated that the property should never have been passed for exchange until they were done. Is there anything I can do I have replaced kitchen, all skirting boards, plastered walls, now I can’t afford the rest of the repairs which also includes the garden fence and rubble as well as no gate and smashed gate post at front of property. I have since found out that a manger of the housing association threatened my partner if he got investigated through our complaints as he passed the house and shouldn’t have.

  10. D

    I am inters
    In doin a swap they have a walk in shower and I have a bath ….. we would both like to have them in each property or hers need a bath and mine need a shower isit
    Possible for them to change
    It …

  11. ann

    Hi , I’m currently in the middle of having paperwork done to do a swap but recently found out I’m expecting again and due to some family issues I cant move anymore, does anyone know if I can pull out or do I need to go ahead with the swap” the place is alot smaller than my house its a flat I have a 18month old and now found out I’m pregnant again but worried il be stuck in a tiny flat with two babies and my partner HEEEEELLLLP

  12. Admin Deb

    Ann – as long as you haven’t signed anything you can pull out. If you have signed then you will have to talk to the HO that is dealing with it but it might be that you have to continue with the exchange. Good luck.

  13. Cheneil Smith

    Ive just exchanged 3 weeks ago and the lady said shes leaveing the deckin and fencein as my house was a 3 bed home am in a 2 now and now she says shes coming for it ive said shes not aloud to can she do that?

  14. Admin Deb

    Highly unlikely. If you have both now swapped homes, I would say that it would be a civil matter that she is likely to lose if it went to court. Hopefully, you will both have lists (or your landlord has) of things that are being left. If no list exists then you have “taken the property as seen” – which will include the decking. I most certainly would not be letting them into your property. HOWEVER – please check with your housing officer first.
    Admin Deb

  15. ausra

    hi, I have recently swapped the house. the property I moved in has a massive garden. At the back of the garden there is lots of rubbish (and I mean a lot, tons of it, rotten tires, bed frames, sharp metals, broken glass, etc.) I was told first inspection has failed because of this rubbish and they had to remove it. second time they passed the inspection with that rubbish still being there. I got in to the property, few days later walked around the garden and saw all this rubbish being there slightly covered with bushes.
    I called council to ask how could they pass inspection with all that stuff being in the garden despite the fact that they left the house in horrible state as well. I had to scrape the dirt off everything walls, cupboards, etc., in other words I moved to pigs house, anyway its all done now and it looks and smells lovely. however I still have all that rubbish to take care of. my question for the housing officer was is there any help available as I am single mom with 2 children and no transport.
    when I spoke with him first time on the phone he said: let me see what I can do, maybe I will get somebody to get that rubbish off you “, but then obviously something happened and he responded to me in WRITTING … that its my responsibility to take care of that rubbish and the only other option is to go back to previous tenant and ask them to remove it for me. Previous tenants are disable people with no income other than benefits, they straight said “no” to me. Housing officer is assuring me that this rubbish was put after he inspected the house, which is completely wrong as you could see that this stuff was there for years if not decades.
    so my question to you would be: where do I stand? do I have any right to ask council to remove it for me as who ever did the inspection and approved it shouldn’t have signed the property off with all this stuff still being in the garden.
    p.s. even if I wouldn’t care about environment I do care about health and safety of my children when they play in the garden.
    thank you for your response

  16. Admin Deb

    Ausra, I am afraid that unless your housing officer has a change of heart and arranges for the rubbish to be collected, then it is now your responsibility. You signed for the exchange. You could try asking the previous tenants for a contribution towards the cost of getting rid of it (after all – they could afford to actually move). Ask your housing officer for a copy of the paperwork that shows the property was passed for exchange and there was no rubbish left. Take photos of the really old stuff and show them to the HO. BUT, to be honest I don’t hold out much hope. Now you have it in writing that they won’t help you, I doubt whether they will change their minds. Financial matters are now really constricting and restricting councils.
    Sorry I can’t be more positive. Good luck.

  17. Samantha

    Hi. I’m not sure if this is the right place to comment,

    But I’ve just swapped, literally last week, however I no longer need the property for private family reasons.

    Can I hand my notice in straight away?! Or do I have to live here for a certain amount of time?

  18. Admin Deb

    Hi Samantha,
    You can hand your notice in straight away – though you must check with your landlord how many weeks you have to give (some require 2 weeks , some 4 etc). Good luck.

  19. Gemma

    Hi myself and the lady I am looking to swap homes with have sent off the paperwork all signed just over a week ago and are just waiting to hear back from the council. I know they have to do checks etc which I’m not worried about. However I’m worried about it going through then the lady pulling out as I really need this move and have sorted a school etc for my children if needed I. The area. Can she back out whenever she wants or are there certain rules? Thanks

  20. Admin Deb

    Hi, I am afraid that she can pull out any time she wants to. Even after signing the exchange papers – if she doesn’t move out on the day there isn’t anything you can do about it. Try not to worry – the majority of exchanges go through without a hitch. Do check that everything is in good working order though – thats usually the main problem. Good luck.

  21. Elisha Stone

    I swapped three weeks ago to give my 25 year old son a bedroom after he’d been sleeping on the sofa for 2 years (it was a one bedroom cottage) anyway, he’s now telling me that he’s moving in with his new girlfriend. My Question is, how long do I have to wait before I can apply for an exchange again?

  22. Admin Deb

    Hi Eli, unfortunately you will have to ask your landlord this question. There are no rules on this. Some landlords will let you exchange straight away provided there are no rent arrears and property is in good condition etc, others say you have to wait up to a year. I hope it is the former for you because I expect, after you son has left, you now have to pay for your spare bedroom.
    Sorry I can’t be more help.
    Admin Deb

    P.S. It might tell you in your tenancy agreement.

  23. Brooke

    Hi i done a 3 way swap due to distance was unable to view property the lady’s house i got sent me pictures and they were false pictures. I’ve been in the property for 4 weeks now and the damage and work needing done to the property is massive. I just don’t understand how the house passed inspection as this is why I had no worries as that inspection was my green light that all was ok. I’m in contact with the other lady that got my house and she’s saying if there is away to have the swap reversed and me take her old property and her stay in mine so to change it into a straight swap meaning the lady who’s house i have was made to come back to hers as she lied and her house didn’t meet swap standards. I have 4 children and this woman has covered up power points plastered over them and alot more issues with property. Do I have any cooling off period or rights to get this reversed? Thanks

  24. Ruby

    Hi I was doing a 3 way swap and tenancy starts Monday other parties have signed but I have not signed to take over new property can I pull out as I’m due to sign Monday but my circumstances have changed.many thanks

  25. Admin Deb

    If you haven’t signed – just tell the housing officer you have changed your mind.

  26. Admin Deb

    It is too late now. You signed. You moved in. No matter what the distance – everyone should view a property because it stops this sort of thing happening. Her house obviously did meet the exchange criteria set down by her landlord. The fact that it doesn’t meet your own personal standard is neither here or there. It is a shame this has happened but I hope others learn from it.

  27. Lisa

    Currently in the process of a mutual exchange but have decided against swapping, the tenants have been caught out on a few lies and I’ve now lost all trust in them, we’ve fillied in applications and had home checks is it to late to back out or will I be made to move?

  28. Admin Deb

    Hi Lisa, Not many HA’s or Councils will physically make you move out on any date that you have been given – even if you have signed. If you have changed your mind – just tell them ASAP.
    Good luck.

  29. Precious

    Hi there, I’m in a process of getting my paperwork signed for an exchange but I’m wondering if the council will help change locks to the property or do I have to change this myself to prevent the other tenant access to the property. The door is a multi-lock and secondly how long do I have to have lived at the new property for before am allowed any repairs such as boiler breakdown during winter time? Thank you

  30. marcus

    I have found some where I would like to exchange with.

    There is damp in the bedroom wall and a ceiling that needs to be repaired due to a leak from upstairs.
    Plus a lot of rubbish in the garden

    How do I make sure these items can be repaired before I move?

    Or can I get them repaired by the HO afterwards?

    Thank you

  31. Admin Deb

    Marcus, You have made a note as to what needs doing. Your landlord will do an inspection and problems should be identified and dealt with by them BEFORE you move in. It is highly unlikely things will be done after you have moved in. Keep in touch with your Housing Officer and tell them that you are aware of these issues.

  32. Admin Deb

    Precious, it is highly unlikely your landlord will be changing any locks. Why do you think the person will want to enter the house? Do you want to enter your old property? If you change the locks yourself, you will probably need permission and/or agree to put the old locks back on when you leave.
    As for repairs like the boiler – that should be done without any issues.

  33. Tamla

    Hi could someone please tell me what and how the 42 day rule is please as I’m knew to all this. We’re swapping from one council to another. We put our forms in then 2 days later got a letter saying we have been successful and we will have our inspection the following week, that also went well. They asked if we have a moving date in mind I said yes ect ect. The other tenants need quite a bit of work doing but haven’t had there inspection yet and have missed there appointment. We’re close to the 42 days being up. What will happen when we hit day 42? Please help.

  34. Admin Deb

    Nothing will happen when you hit 42 days Tamla. The landlords/council have fulfilled their obligation to process your mutual exchange application within the 42 days. Nothing else can happen until the other tenant has had their inspection done. If the other tenant has missed their inspection date, what was their reason? Lets hope they don’t miss the next one – if that happens, personally I’d be somewhat worried.
    However, I’m sure everything will be ok. Good luck with your exchange Tamla.

  35. Tamla

    Thank you Debbie. They are still wanting to exchange. We they have said they had to go to the vets, that was there reason. Will there be another date for and inspection made do you think? Also I’m just enquiring would there be a way for me to contact there council about it as it’s the first time I’ve done this and I’m unsure of everything that happens as all is fine on my side. If I did that would it affect the exchange in anyway? Tamla

  36. Admin Deb

    They should ask their housing officer when another inspection date will be held. It is fine for you to contact their council – see if you can get their Housing Officers name because then you will speak to the person who (should!) know what is happening. Good luck.

  37. Keiley

    Hiya how long after does it take to get a moving date after all checks on done on both houses ?

  38. Admin Deb

    Hi Keiley, your HO should ask you if you and your swap partner have a date in mind. this should have been done around the time you put the paperwork in.
    Good luck.

  39. Amanda Roberts

    I’m in the middletter of a mutal exchange and the tenant in other property has had a new fence put up and council has billed her for it will the exchange still go far ward and will the council let her take the bill with her to her new property

  40. Admin Deb

    Hi Amanda, why was she billed for it? I am assuming she did not get permission to erect it. Either that or the landlord is removing it and charging her for that.
    Because councils are so strapped for cash I doubt whether the exchange can take place unless she pays before you swap UNLESS you are both just moving and staying with the same landlord.

  41. Laura

    I completed a mutual exchange 5weeks ago and my life been a living hell since. Toilet leaks bath leaks, hot water doesn’t get hot, 4rooms in this house the walls and ceilings are blown, walls not attached to ceilings and skirting boards, central heating smells vile, the wall pro persevere hidden by woodchipwallpaper and decorators caulk. The thickest mould around the pipes in bathroom painted over! Should these have been sorted before being allowed to exchange? Honestly feel like I can’t cope. I work but this kind of work ‘plumbers,plastered,very expensive.especially when needed in every room.

  42. Laura

    To add to my comment, I know it’s a sold as seen kinda thing, but surely the property inspector should have noticed? I admin all other repairs i.e. cracks in unblown walls electrics,replacing skirting and door frames doors banisters. I just think it’s Terrible so many problems would go unnoticed? It’s like the house needs knocking down

  43. nadia Revuelta

    Hi I moved in August 2015 in 2 bedroom flat by mutual exchange. I didn’t know there was no door in my children bedroom so I called the previous tenant and she told me that she never have a door in that bedroom but the housing officer who did the inspection confirmed there was a door at the time. So after requesting for a door, they told me that it’s not their responsibilities to fix a door and they won’t. So I’m worried because the bathroom and kitchen are not good at all, it’s very old, ugly, out of date and very dirty. I complaint many times but they keep sending the team repair which I believe is not the solution. Everything has to be changed as it’s so bad. I wrote them a letter to explain how is the condition. Do they have the right to refuse to change it or not? Pls answer back as I need some answers.

  44. Sue

    Hi Could I move from my council house to next door when lady leaves with out bidding on it .it’s a better house not as many steps and a smaller garden as I’m a pentioner Thanking you 4 ur time Susan

  45. Sue

    Carried on from above mess I know people do have to bid .But with it being next door would council allow it .As there would still be my house the same for some one to move into .just wondering if it’s worth writing council aletter

  46. Georgia Birch

    I moved into this house on the 11th Feb 2017. When I checked the house and the inspection was done by the housing association we were happy to take on the work that there was. From the time of signing the papers to moving out, they have smashed a window and not done the repairs that the inspector wrote down on the inspection form for them to do. Where do I stand?

  47. Admin Deb

    Hi, did you take any photos of the damage when you moved in? Either way you need to bring this to the attention of your new Housing Officer. Good luck.

  48. trudy baddams

    We did a mutual exchange over 3 years ago, the property had issues, like gloss painted UPVC window frames, had ceramic tiles throughout downstairs loo/bathroom, lobby and kitchen, previous tenant had put up wall units in kitchen, ‘not standard’ spot light in hall and in bedroom ‘non-standard’ – we are in the throes of ending our tenancy and these issues have come back to haunt us, and it looks likely that the ceramic tiles will have to be lifted, the kitchen will have to be replaced as housing officer has stated it is now ‘not fit for purpose’ spot lights will have to be replaced at our cost, looks like we’re in for a tidy bill here, windows will have to be replaced if not stripped back to UPVC, had to paint all brightly coloured and flowery walls, 2 years ago we signed for this and still we’re being held to account for what previous tenants have done, seems quite unfair to me. Surely after 3 years the landlord must be responsible for the property and its fixtures and fittings, surely we cannot be held responsible for the life time of the property or ourselves, would appreciate advice please.

  49. beth

    hi the 42 day deadline has passed and the ladies housing who i am exchanging with did not get the electric check done until the day after the 42 days ,she is trying to tell both of us now we have to wait 14 days as thats how long it will take to get the electric check certificate back ,is that right as she has not done all she needed to do in the 42 day deadline ,can we now move or do we need to wait for her she is not being very helpful she said she will not be ruched and will not chase the certificate up so we can get a date to move

  50. Admin Deb

    Hopefully by now you will have had some news but ultimately the 42 day rule is NOT a rule just a guidline.

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