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Highland tenants benefit from house exchange scheme

20th January 2014

Tenants of approximately 19,000 homes managed by the six main Highland-based social landlords can benefit from joining up to the popular home swapping service House Exchange. The service is free for tenants to join and matches up households who want to move to find other homes that meet their requirements. The mutual exchange scheme gives tenants more choice of homes and helps them to search for a new home that is just right for them.

From 1 April 2013, working aged tenants living in social rented housing that is a home rented from The Highland Council or a Housing Association - receive less housing benefit if they are living in homes which are considered too big by the Government for their household needs. Some of these tenants have already said that they will have difficulty making up the shortfall in their rent as a result of reduced housing benefit. House Exchange and other exchange schemes can help to find a smaller home with the right number of rooms.

Councillor Dave Fallows, Chair, The Highland Councils Finance Housing and Resources Committee, said: "Mutual Exchanges are a popular service across the Highlands and are achieving results for both its tenant members and landlord partners. More than 200 households in Highlands swapped in 2012/2013 so it really is helping tenants to move to homes that are better suited to them, where a transfer maybe not be possible due to point levels.

"All six landlord members of the Highland Housing Register have extended the housing options provided to their tenants, who now have the option to find new homes not only in this area but across the whole of the UK. With a track record of successful swaps, finding a new home through House Exchange can be much quicker than waiting on a housing list for properties that rarely become empty."

Helen Barton, Customer Services Director of Albyn Housing Society said: As a partnership of social landlords we have joined this service so that it is available for free to all our tenants, providing them with a broader range of choices regarding the size, type, and location of homes, giving them the opportunity to find a home that is suitable for their needs.

In addition, we would also encourage tenants to keep an eye on adverts in local shops and newspapers as well as internet sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Gumtree, for example. All can be very good ways to find other people looking for a swap if you need to move to another property.

Any tenants wanting to exchange must get written permission from their current landlord before they move. Advice and application forms are available from any of The Highland Council Housing Services or Housing Association offices across the Highlands.

The main social landlords across the Highlands are:- The Highland Council, Albyn Housing Society, Cairn Housing Association, Lochaber Housing Association, Lochalsh and Skye Housing Association, and Pentland Housing Association. These six landlords work together to operate a common housing register and allocations policy under The Highland Housing Register.

If you wish to register for free you can do so online at www.highland.houseexchange.org.uk or alternatively you can contact your landlord.

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