Housing Minister Grant Shapps today hailed the national home swap scheme, HomeSwap Direct, as inquiries via the new scheme passed the million mark.
Since its launch in October 2011, over a million searches for properties have been made through HomeSwap Direct. The new scheme allows social housing tenants wanting to swap their home to see, for the first time, every available property in the country.
Mr Shapps said the surge of interest from tenants testified to a dramatic improvement since the failure of the centrally-prescribed MoveUK service. Started in 2004, within two years the number of moves had collapsed by half, and there was no clear strategy to improve the situation.
Now with over 5,500 searches a day, it is clear the greater choice offered through HomeSwap Direct is proving popular with tenants who want to move house, whether to be closer to a new job or their family, or to find a property that better suits their needs.
Until now tenants have been restricted to swapping properties with other tenants in a scheme chosen by their landlord - effectively meaning only a partial swap scheme existed, and often an uphill battle for tenants if they wanted to move anywhere other than the neighbourhood where they already lived. HomeSwap Direct is now giving tenants access to a much wider selection of properties than ever before and boosting their prospects of moving.
The scheme is online, so advertised swaps are much more accessible for tenants and the possibility of moving house is ‘just a click away’.
Grant Shapps said:
It’s plain wrong that social tenants are barred from the same life opportunities as everyone else. Social housing is supposed to be a springboard to success - but under the old system tenants who wanted to make a longer-distance move had no realistic opportunity of ever swapping their home.
It’s just one example of the lazy consensus that condemned social tenants to be trapped in homes that didn’t meet their needs, and blocked their path to aspiration.
So I’m delighted that HomeSwap Direct is at last giving tenants the opportunities they deserve. Instead of being pushed to the back of the queue, tenants now have more power to arrange their own home swaps and the chance to move anywhere in the country, whether to be closer to a new job or their family, or to find a property that better suits their needs.
There are some who have criticised the scheme, who’d rather see tenants stay put and make do. But the surge of interest by social tenants has confounded the critics, and proved they are no longer prepared to accept the old way of doing things.
Notes to editors
HomeSwap Direct brings together four internet-based providers of mutual exchange services (HomeSwapper, House Exchange, Abritas and LHS (Locata)) to offer tenants more choice over where they live.
A membership agreement which has been developed by Government and joined by these providers is available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website. This sets out the framework under which information will be shared by providers, the technical requirements of the scheme and the processes by which new members can apply to join. A copy can be found here: www.communities.gov.uk/documents/corporate/pdf/2016632.pdf.
A new Tenancy Standard came into force on 1 April 2012 and places a requirement on social landlords in England to subscribe to an internet-based mutual exchange service. The provider of the service must be a signatory to an agreement such as HomeSwap Direct under which tenants can access matches across all (or the greatest practicable number of) internet based mutual exchange services.
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