Are you looking to downsize?

Information for tenants about downsizing and our policy

Find out more

If you are currently in a home that is too large for your need and wish to downsize, your main options are to swap home with another social housing tenant (through mutual exchange) or by bidding on a property via your local authority's housing register.  

If you are of Pension Credit age or are under occupying your home by at least one bedroom, you may be eligible for an incentive to move reward. This could be:   

  • a cash payment of £1,000 for the first bedroom and £500 thereafter up to £6,000
  • part cash payment and assistance
  • assistance 

Examples of assistance can include:  

  • removals including packaging and un packing for older or vulnerable tenants
  • replacement flooring 
  • disconnection and reconnection of kitchen appliances and computers etc
  • payment of transfer of telephone lines  
  • disposal of unwanted furniture  and clearance of gardens
  • redirection of mail

If you’d like to know more about this scheme or have any questions, the easiest way to get in touch is by emailing

Alternatively, if you aren’t online, please call us on 0800 917 6077

Please be aware that if you are in rent arrears this may affect incentive payments. 

Downsizing Policy

1. Overview

To ensure Thrive Homes makes the best and most effective use of it’s housing stock by incentivising qualifying tenants occupying larger and family sized homes to downsize.

2. Version

V1.0 18/06/21 

Reviewed by Assistant Director - Customer and Thrive's Customer Working Group.

3. Introduction

Thrive Homes want to ensure that by managing under occupation in our homes, tenants are able to move which can help create sustainable communities. As less funding is available for new house building, registered providers face challenges to make the best use of the homes available.

Within Thrive Homes’ area of operations, there is a lack of larger family sized accommodation to meet the growing housing demand from within Thrive Homes’ tenants and applicants on the choice-based lettings housing registers.

The largest number of Thrive Homes households with two or more spare bedrooms have a main tenant over the pensionable age. The aim of this policy is to encourage and assist tenants who are under occupying their home to move to a smaller home within Thrive Homes stock.

Thrive Homes will support qualifying tenants seeking to downsize to homes that better meet their personal needs.

4. Scope

This policy applies to all under occupied properties of Thrive Homes.

The key objectives of the policy are:

  • to support and encourage tenants to downsize to better meet their housing need
  • to release family accommodation to assist Local Authorities meet their housing
  • to make the best use of housing stock

5. Definitions 

Under occupation is where a tenant is occupying a property with 1 or more bedrooms above the allocation entitlement set by the Local Authority for the area in which they live.

Incentives to move from a larger to smaller home will apply to a qualifying Thrive Homes tenant who is moving either through the Choice Based Lettings or mutual exchange process. Incentives are not available to tenants who exchange with the tenant of another landlord.

Incentives offered to tenants downsizing will be either:

  • a cash payment
  • part cash payment and assistance
  • assistance

Assistance can include paying the costs for services, for example:

  • removals including packing
  • replacement flooring
  • disconnection and reconnection of kitchen appliances
  • payment of transfer of telephone lines
  • disposal of unwanted furniture
  • redirection of mail

Qualifying age for full assistance - the age for the receipt of pension credit. In the case of joint tenants either:

1) both tenants have to be eligible for pension credit OR

2) one tenant has to be eligible for pension credit and the household is already in receipt of
Housing Benefit and exempt from the under-occupancy charge (Bedroom Tax)

6. Eligibility 

Tenants irrespective of age requesting to downsize will be considered provided that they

  • hold an assured at transfer, assured tenancy or fixed term tenancy of their current home
  • have kept to the terms of their tenancy agreement
  • has at least two years left on a fixed term tenancy (if applicable)
  • have no housing related debt with Thrive Homes (this is considered as current/former rent
    arrears, use and occupation charges, court costs, and rechargeable repairs
  • agree to provide vacant possession of their present home

Tenants who owe Thrive Homes money either through rent arrears (even if subject to a debt relief order) or rechargeable repairs, will be allowed to downsize, with any cash incentive being used to clear any current or former debt.

Where the Housing debt is higher than the incentive payment, applicants will still be considered if the property they currently occupy is unaffordable and causing financial hardship. This will be subject to a payment plan being implemented that is deemed affordable by the Income Team. Discretion may need to be applied when considering an application from Tenants who are subject to a current possession order.

Tenants will only be eligible for the Incentive to Move payment if they are under occupying their home by at least one bedroom, and this does not make a household overcrowded.

Tenants will only be eligible for the Incentive to Move payment if they are moving to a new property which they will not be under occupying, except where tenants eligible for incentives through receipt of pension credit have a medical need for an additional bedroom.

Customers will be offered a new property that is adequate for their housing need. The table below illustrates the minimum property size Thrive Homes will offer different household types:



Number of bedrooms

single applicant bedsit-studio or 1 bedroom
couple without children 1 bedroom 
pregnant with 1st child 1 bedroom
parent/s with 1 child 2 bedrooms
parent/s with 2 children of the same sex under 16 years of age 2 bedrooms
parent/s with 2 children of the same sex where 1 child is at least 16 years of age 3 bedrooms
parent/s with 2 children of the opposite sex under 10 years of age 2 bedrooms
parent/s with 2 children of the opposite sex where 1 child is at least 10 years of age 3 bedrooms
parents with 3 or more children 3/4 bedrooms

7. Incentive to Move Payments

Thrive Homes will help its qualifying tenants who are under occupying their home to move to a smaller property by offering a few incentives, including a cash payment, part cash payment and assistance, and assistance only. The incentive payments for tenants who have not reached qualifying age are discretionary and will be tailored to the tenant’s needs. Tenants who have not reached the qualifying age are only eligible for the flat rate payment.

Tenant reached qualifying age

Cash payments:

£1,000 for first bedroom then £500 per subsequent bedroom up to the maximum of £6,000 per household.

Examples of assistance:

  • removals (including packing and un packing for older or vulnerable tenants)
  • clearance of gardens
  • disconnection and reconnection (telephones, computers, cookers, washing machines, etc)

Tenant not reached qualifying age (irrespective of whether the spare room subsidy applies)

Cash payments: 

£500 one off payment, with discretion to increase to a maximum of £1,000.

Examples of assistance:


Assistance will be to the value of the total eligible cash payment.

Refusal of incentive to move payment or assistance

Thrive Homes reserves the right to refuse an incentive to move payment/assistance application if: 

  • the tenant has not had a clear rent account for a minimum of three months (however discretion may be applied depending on an individual’s circumstance)
  • there has been a breach in the tenancy
  • the tenant has incurred debts to Thrive homes including, court costs, rechargeable repairs for example
  • the downsize will result in the household becoming overcrowded
  • the tenant is required to move due to succession
  • the tenant is being ‘decanted’ to enable works to be carried out on their home
  • have previously received a downsizing incentive payment

Decision process

Applications will be processed once an application form is received.

The decision to award a discretionary incentive to move payment will be taken at a Management Panel meeting. The Panel has the discretion in exceptional circumstances to increase the discretionary payment to a maximum of £1,000 where it will allow the objectives of the policy to be met.

8. Other Related Policies and Guidance

This policy links to other polices Thrive has in place, including but not limited to:

As a business we try hard to keep all these related policies aligned with each other. If you do spot any inconsistency, please do contact us at your earliest opportunity and make your concerns known. Your support to keep information clear and consistent will always be welcomed.

9. Policy Approval

As this policy forms part of our operational framework, the document will be evaluated by the Leadership Team as part of any review process.

10. Support and Further Guidance

This policy has been drafted with input from staff across Thrive. If you have any concerns on how to interpret or follow its requirements, please contact us.

The easiest way to reach us is by emailing