Refusing a swap – the law

6 Dec 2016

There are, by law, only 10 reasons why a council can refuse a swap. The most commonly used reasons are that an applicant is subject to a ‘Notice of Seeking Possession’ or they want to move to a property which is much bigger or smaller than they actually need.

If permission is granted, you’ll be asked to sign an agreement that you are willing to accept the accommodation as it stands.

The legal reasons a landlord can refuse a swap are listed below, with explanations of what they mean in real English :)

Court order

Ground 1: The tenant or the proposed assignee is obliged to give up possession of the dwelling-house of which is the secure tenant in pursuance of an order of the court, or will be so obliged at a date specified in such an order.

A court order is in place to remove you, or your swap partner, from the property at a date in the future.

Eviction notice

Ground 2: Proceedings have been begun for possession of the dwelling-house if which the tenant or the proposed assignee is the secure tenant on one or more of grounds one to six in part one of Schedule two (grounds on which possession may be ordered despite absence of suitable alternative accommodation), or there has been served on the tenant or the proposed assignee a notice under section 83 (Notice of Proceedings for Possession) which specifies one or more of those grounds and is still in force.

You, or your swap partner, is subject to an eviction notice – your landlord has started legal proceedings to remove you from the property.

Too big

Ground 3: The accommodation afforded by the dwelling-house is substantially more extensive than is reasonably required by the proposed assignee.

Either your home is bigger than your swap partner needs, or their home is bigger than you need. It’s important to note that “need” is based on the government’s rules, not on whether you think you need more space. There’s a handy calculator here.

Too small

Ground 4: The extent of the accommodation afforded by the dwelling-house is not reasonably suitable to the needs of the proposed assignee and his/her family.

The home you want to move into isn’t big enough for your family, or your home isn’t big enough for your swap partner’s family. Again, this is based on the government rules, not what you think might be suitable.

Your job or community connection

Ground 5: The dwelling-house forms part or is within cartilage of a building which, or so much of it as is held by the landlord, is held mainly for purposes other than housing purposes and consists mainly of accommodation other than housing accommodation, or is situated in a cemetery, and was let to the tenant or predecessor in title of his/her in consequence of the tenant or predecessor being in the employment of:

  • the landlord
  • a local authority
  • a new town corporation
  • a housing action trust
  • the Development Board for Rural Wales
  • an urban development corporation, or
  • the governors of an aided school

This is used if one of the homes is in a building not designed to be a home; is mainly used for non-housing purposes or is in a cemetery. These reasons are less likely to apply. Ground 5 is also used if you’ve got your home, or your swap partner has theirs, because of the job you’re in – you might work for the council or landlord – or your position in the community.

Home is for a certain group e.g. ex-soldiers

Ground 6: The landlord is a charity and the proposed assignee’s occupation of the dwelling-house would conflict with the objects of the charity.

Social landlords are charities and some, particularly smaller ones, were established to support certain groups of people, for example ex-soldiers. If you don’t fit into these categories, the landlord can refuse your application.

It’s adapted, and you’re not disabled

Ground 7: The dwelling-house has features which are substantially different from those of an ordinary dwelling-house and which are designed to make it suitable for occupation by a physically disabled person who requires accommodation of the kind provided by the dwelling-house and if the assignment were made there would no longer be such a person residing in the dwelling-house.

The home has been adapted for someone with a disability, and the person moving in doesn’t need these adaptations.

Landlord only lets homes to people with certain needs

Ground 8: The landlord is a Housing Association or Housing Trust which lets dwelling-houses only for occupation (alone or with others) by persons whose circumstances (other than merely financial circumstances) make it especially difficult for them to satisfy their need for housing and it the assignment were made there would no longer be such a person residing in the dwelling-house.

The landlord only lets homes to people in particular circumstances – these could be health or disability related – and you don’t meet these criteria.

Special needs – e.g. sheltered homes for older adults

Ground 9: The dwelling-house is one of a group of dwelling-houses which is the practice of the landlord to let for occupation by persons with special need and a social service or special facility is provided in close proximity to the group of dwelling-houses in order to assist persons with those special needs and if the assignment were made there would no longer be a person with those special needs residing in the dwelling-house.

Usually, this means that the home is a sheltered home, or has nearby support for older people or those with limited mobility. This is usually the rule that means that younger adults with no special needs are not able to move into sheltered housing.

You don’t want to join a management agreement

Ground 10: The dwelling-house is the subject if a management agreement under which the manager is a Housing Association of which at least half the members of the association, and the proposed assignee is not, and is not willing to become a member of the association.

Some housing associations have membership arrangements to cover areas like communal space etc, particularly in blocks of flats. If over half of the residents are members, and you’re not, and you’re not prepared to join, they can refuse your swap.