Tenants take back power to choose their own home

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

HomeSwap Direct searches set to hit 1.5 million Social tenants who have been stuck in homes that no longer meet their needs are seizing the…

HomeSwap Direct searches set to hit 1.5 million

Social tenants who have been stuck in homes that no longer meet their needs are seizing the opportunity to up sticks through the HomeSwap Direct scheme, boosting their chances of getting a job, living nearer to family or simply improving their quality of life, Housing Minister Grant Shapps announced today.

The Minister welcomed latest figures showing that there are nearly 6,000 searches a day conducted on HomeSwap Direct - an online scheme that shows social homes available for swaps across the country. The total number of searches since it launched in October 2011 is shortly expected to hit the 1.5million milestone.

For the first time HomeSwap Direct has allowed tenants to easily look outside the service provided by their own landlord and be given a choice about where they live. With the scheme being online, it has made advertised swaps much more accessible for all tenants and the possibility of moving house just a click away.

The scheme has transformed the way in which tenants can look for properties and boosted their prospects of moving - whether for work, to be closer to family or for a property better suited to their needs.

Previously, tenants wanting to move were restricted to swapping properties through a scheme chosen by their landlord - effectively meaning only a partial swap scheme existed. HomeSwap Direct gives tenants access to a much wider selection of properties than ever before.

Some of the success stories of HomeSwap Direct include:

  • Syvie from Coventry found a job in London. She registered on House Exchange in March and moved in June. It would have been too expensive for her to commute to her new job and says the service meant she didn’t have to “live temporarily with family members”
  • Claudia had lived in her small village home in Norfolk for 12 years but needed to reduce her car journeys. She was able to swap with a family in Norwich looking for a more rural setting. “I’m delighted with my new home, there was such a large selection, but I know I’ve got the right one for me.”
  • Mark had been living in Greenwich for 14 years and wanted to move out to nearer his family in Kent. With his mother Anne’s help, Mark moved four months later. “I was able to help Mark find his exchange with the benefit of HomeSwap Direct which made it much easier” she said.

Grant Shapps said:

For years, social tenants were stuck in the ridiculous situation where they didn’t have the same freedom of choice as everyone else and could only swap homes with those using the same service as their landlord - or face competition from those higher up the waiting lists.

HomeSwap Direct has challenged this lazy consensus that trapped people in their homes. Instead, tenants are taking power back to arrange their own home swap by viewing properties available not just in their neighbourhood, but across the whole country.

And with nearly 6,000 searches every day, and nearly 1.5million since the its launch, this successful scheme is clearly opening doors that were simply closed to social tenants, giving them a chance to improve their job prospects, live closer to family or simply move to a home better suited to their changing needs.

Notes to editors

  1. 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.

  2. 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:

  3. 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.