Halton Housing (HH) is committed to providing an efficient and effective service to its customers, which includes acknowledgement of the rights provided within their tenancy agreement and provision of advice on them, whilst also satisfying housing need and aspiration through offering choice in housing location.
This policy covers the 3 ways in which tenancies can be ‘taken over’ via Assignment or Mutual Exchange, namely:
- an assignment to a potential successor;
- an assignment where a Court has made an Adjustment Order in matrimonial proceedings;
- an assignment by way of mutual exchange with another Halton Housing customer or with a customer of another landlord such as a local authority or another Registered Provider (Housing association)
Staff will have due regard to the Diversity and Customer Care policies when implementing this policy.
The Halton Housing will deal with all applications for assignment and mutual exchange sensitively, fairly, promptly and efficiently, and in accordance with relevant legislation. Each application will be considered on an individual basis to take account of the needs and requirements of the customers and Halton Housing.
Customers’ rights concerning assignment and mutual exchange are detailed in the Halton Housing’s tenancy agreement and these rights will be explained thoroughly when customers sign up for a tenancy with Halton Housing.
An assignment is where a potential successor takes over the tenancy of an existing customer including the tenancy agreement and terms of tenancy. Written consent to the assignment request will be needed from Halton Housing and the assignment will be carried out by a Deed of Assignment supplied by Halton Housing.
The Halton Housing will consider applications for assignments in the following circumstances:
- an assignment to a potential successor;
- an assignment where a Court has made a property adjustment order in matrimonial proceedings;
- an assignment by way of mutual exchange with another Halton Housing tenant or with a tenant of another landlord such as a local authority or another housing association.
We will consider applications from ‘transferred’ customers (those customers who were customers of Halton Borough Council on completion of transfer and were signed up to Halton Housing’s tenancy agreement for transferring customers as having Preserved Right to Buy) and assured customers (those customers who became customers of Halton Housing after the date of transfer). The only exception to this will be: –
- Assured shorthold ‘Starter’ tenancies. These customers will not normally have the right to exchange within the first 12 months of their tenancy. However, in exceptional circumstances Halton Housing may exercise discretion if the circumstances support such a move.
Where a Court has decided the tenancy is to be assigned because of matrimonial proceedings. Halton Housing will carry out the assignment as set out in the court order.
Halton Housing is committed to promoting mutual exchanges and will ensure that information about customers’ right to exchange, procedures for seeking exchange partners and applying for consent is available to all customers through its website and Customer App.
Halton Housing promotes customers to exchange through an on-line registration process to a national exchange scheme (HomeSwapper) which Halton Housing participate in and will cover the cost of the registration for current customers only. Assistance will be provided to those customers who do not have access to a computer/internet.
Halton Housing will require all parties involved in a mutual exchange to complete an application form.
Whilst Halton Housing will not unreasonably refuse a request for an exchange, any exchange carried out without our written consent and the completion of a Deed of Assignment, will be in breach of the tenancy agreement and will be regarded as unlawful. As a result, the customers concerned would be at risk of possession proceedings.
We will not normally refuse an application for exchange unless:
- either customer is under Notice of Seeking Possession, or legal proceedings have begun following notice;
- either property is specifically designed to help a disabled person or has other special features and the new customer does not need these facilities;
- either property is significantly too large or too small for either customer and their household.
We may also make approval conditional where, for example:
- either customer is in rent arrears but no legal action has been taken– in which case the customer will be asked to clear the arrears before the exchange can go ahead;
- either customer is required to carry out work which is their responsibility.
All decisions made by will be confirmed in writing.
Any requests to Halton Housing to exchange properties must be made on application forms completed by all parties. A decision will be issued in writing within 42 days and may contain conditions. If the exchange is refused reasons will be provided as well as details of the appeals procedure.
On receipt of a mutual exchange application a Tenancy Management Officer will visit any Halton Housing customer involved in the proposed exchange to carry out a general inspection of the property. This inspection may identify works to be carried out by the customers or Halton Housing prior to approval of the exchange. If all parties are Halton Housing customers, reports will be passed to the Lead Tenancy Management Officer for consideration. If one of the parties is the customer of a different landlord, a tenancy reference concerning Halton Housing’s customer will be sent to this landlord requesting a similar reference in respect of their customer and their views on the proposed exchange.
Consideration for approval in this instance will take place once the respective tenancy references have been exchanged. Consent from both Halton Housing and the other landlord will be required for the exchange to be approved.
Halton Housing will not meet any costs resulting from the exchange other than repairs resulting from fair wear and tear. Such repairs will be carried out in accordance with priorities set by Halton Housing and once the exchange has taken place. Any fittings installed at the outgoing customers expense and which Halton Housing has accepted responsibility for must be left or the originals replaced. A charge may be levied against the customer if this is not complied with. The properties involved in the exchange are accepted by the customer/s in their present condition.
All parties must sign the necessary documentation and move into the properties on the date contained in the approval letter.
Halton Housing will arrange for gas and electric checks at each of the properties and assess any related works necessary on or as soon after the date for the move contained in the approval letter.
Any customer transferring from a different landlord will receive a post exchange visit from a Tenancy Management Officer within 28 days of moving into the property.
If either of the customers who are requesting an exchange were successors at the properties they are moving from, then they will remain successors at the new property they have exchanged into.
Assignment to a Potential Successor
Requests for assignments to a potential successor should be made by customer in writing. On receipt of the request the Tenancy Management Officer will interview the prospective successor and make a formal report to the relevant Tenancy Management Lead Officer.
The spouse of the tenant (i.e. husband or wife) or common law partner (including same sex partner) if they were living at the property for the previous 12 months will automatically be able to succeed to the tenancy on death, will be granted an assignment.
The following are potential successors:
- the successor of a transferring tenant (whether they are a spouse, partner or same sex partner);
- a spouse, partner or same sex partner of an assured tenant
A Court can transfer the tenancy to a spouse, child, or guardian for the benefit of the child. In this case, Halton Housing consent is not required and the assignment will take place from the date ordered by the Court in the property adjustment order. The tenancy name will be changed to the assigned customer and a copy of the Court order will be kept on the house file. The assigned customer will be provided with information relating to the tenancy and a copy of the tenancy conditions. Halton Housing requires that it be notified within one month of the date of the Court decision in order that the tenancy records can be amended
Regulatory and/or Legal Compliance
Succession regulations are set out in the Housing Act 1988 for assured tenants and the Housing Act 1985 for secure tenancies.
Further requirements set out in the Tenancy Standard in the HCA’s Regulatory Framework 2012 that “Registered providers shall publish clear and accessible policies which outline their approach to tenancy management, and in particular “2.1.9 their policy on granting discretionary succession rights, taking account of the needs of vulnerable household members”.
A further change was introduced by the Localism Act 2012, which affects all tenancies granted after the 1st April 2012.
All applications will be dealt with in line with Halton Housing’s Diversity policy. An Equality Impact Assessment was carried out in December 2013, which did not identify any diversity issues.
Links to Strategies, Policies and Associated Documents
This policy relates to two of Our Direction strategies, namely:
- Protecting our Income
- Focussing our Resources and Services