SOCIAL housing tenants may soon be able to swap homes to suit their needs if a new Cork City Council scheme is approved.
The local authority has already carried out a pre-feasibility study on the possibility of a “mutual exchange” programme which would allow council tenants to express an interest in swapping their properties if their family or personal circumstances change.
A similiar scheme has been run in the UK since 2007 and has allowed over a quarter of a million families and individuals swap their homes. It is estimated that over £200m has been saved by landlords whose homes would have otherwise been left vacant.
Director of housing at the city council Brian Geaney said the scheme could be up and running by June.
“We are very excited about this particular initiative that will allow individuals to potentially partner with people that are either living in owner-occupied accommodation or accommodation that is currently not large enough for their current needs,” he said.
“The key requirement for this scheme is that it is voluntary and it is a very transparent way of putting individuals in contact with each other. It is something that we will develop throughout the year and it should be in place by the time the new Council is in existence,” he added.
The house swap scheme is envisioned by City Hall officials as a mutual exchange and an alternative, tenant-led approach to housing mobility, compared to traditional local authority led transfer schemes with the enablement of matches online.
Having secured funding from the Digital Innovation Programme Fund 2018, the city council conducted a pre-feasibility study on mutual exchange schemes. Council officials then worked with the School of Applied Social Studies in UCC to conduct a study on the matter and a report entitled ‘Cork City Council Social Housing Mutual Exchange Scheme’ was published in January.
City Hall officials have also contacted and consulted with Dublin City Council’s housing department and UK Housing Partners Limited who run the UK Homeswapper Scheme to gain knowledge on how such a scheme might work in Cork.
Councillor Mick Nugent (SF) believes the scheme could be rolled out nationally if it proves successful.
“I think there’s a kernel of a good scheme that could be developed. You could argue that this could be done from council to council, perhaps allowing local authority tenants to swap for all sorts of reasons.”