Information for agents

Wigan Housing Solutions is a community interest company, and as such, our commitment to serving the community is overseen by regulation. Our business is to let and manage properties directly for landlords & agents, and to manage properties leased by Wigan Council from private landlords. 

We also operate the Wigan Bond Scheme, through which we provide a bond guarantee service under our Home Finder Scheme for people seeking rehousing in private rented accommodation, and also in conjunction with our Let Only Service.

Our objective is to help people in housing need who are unable to afford to purchase or to retain their own homes or who are not eligible for, or who would otherwise have difficulty in accessing, social housing, to achieve sustainable housing solutions in the private rented sector.  We seek to achieve our social objectives by providing landlords and agents with first rate letting and management services and effective advice and support services for tenants.

This section will provide you with information on our Let Only Service:

If you require details on the Wigan Bond Scheme, please contact us and we will forward an information pack to you.

If you wish to discuss any matters contained in the pack in further detail, or have any other questions about our services, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our Services to Landlords and Agents

  • We provide a professional, regulated service with a clear fee structure, together with access to additional support for landlords and tenants where needed.
  • We aim to keep void losses to a minimum by providing an effective lettings service:
  • We hold an extensive waiting list of prospective tenants who will be matched with properties available.
  • Advertising will also be carried out through our Website www.wiganhs.org, and for landlords accredited through the Wigan Council Accreditation Scheme, we will also advertise the property through the Wigan and Leigh Housing Website and Property Shops.
  • We will advise and support prospective tenants in submitting their claims for housing allowance, to minimize claim times.

Our services to Tenants

The services we provide aim to ensure the successful entry into, and maintenance of, tenancies in the private sector for people in housing need in the Borough.  To achieve this, all the prospective tenants accepted on to our rehousing scheme will complete a pre-tenancy training and advice programme.  The programme includes training workshops and advice and support to assist in home finding; income maximization; income management and budgeting; the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords; how to run a successful tenancy; and where to seek further help if needed.

We are particularly concerned that people taking on a tenancy understand and can afford their commitments, and therefore everyone being assisted by our service will receive individual advice on budgeting and personal financial management.

The Wigan Council Landlord Accreditation Scheme

The aims of the Wigan Council’s free Landlord Accreditation Scheme are to encourage, acknowledge and actively promote good standards and management practice by landlords, and to assist landlords and tenants to undertake their responsibilities to each other. For further information on the Scheme, please contact either Wigan Council on 01942 828806 or Wigan Housing Solutions on 01942 216843.

 ‘Let Only’ Service summary

This is a tenant finding service.  Wigan Housing Solutions will undertake an initial inspection of the property and advise the landlord /agent on any issues that need to be addressed before the property is let.  An inventory will be prepared.  We will advertise the property, find a tenant and fully check them into the tenancy. The property will then be handed back to the landlord / agent for management.

The Wigan Bond Scheme

This service provides a bond guarantee to landlords on behalf of tenants who are unable to afford a security deposit. As this service does not involve the landlord’s taking a security deposit, it is outside of the three mandatory government schemes in place.  The Bond Scheme can be used alone, where tenants find their own suitable accommodation under our Home Finder Scheme, or in conjunction with the Let Only and Housing Management services. 

Expressions of Interest

We hope that you are interested in using our services.  If so, please complete the expression of interest form and return it to us. We will contact you on receipt of the form to discuss any issues, and will arrange a face-to-face meeting with you where convenient.

 The Let-Only Service

Marketing

We will undertake an initial inspection of the property and advise you on any issues that need to be addressed before it is let.  If agreed, arrangements for any required safety checks will be made by us.

We will provide the landlord / agent with advice, as appropriate, on tenancy issues.

The following marketing tools will be used by us to enable your property to be let as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We accept tenant referrals regularly from several agencies throughout the Borough, and have a client database which details each client’s housing requirements. We aim to consult this within 48 hours of taking your instructions to let the property to check for any existing clients, who have successfully passed through our pre-tenancy programme, who can be matched promptly to your property.
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Advertising will also be carried out through this website, and for landlords accredited under the Wigan Council Accreditation Scheme, we will also advertise the property through the Wigan and Leigh Housing Website and Property Shops.

 Referencing & selection

Given the aims of our service, it is likely that the majority of our tenants will be on lower incomes and /or claiming benefits and / or unable to obtain a credit reference. We will therefore not be carrying out credit checks.  Instead, we will ensure all of the following measures are undertaken to assist in the smooth running of tenancies:

  • Obtain proof of identity and address for all applicants
  • Obtain proof of income for all applicants
  • Assist the applicant in claiming housing allowance, where appropriate, and obtain a receipt for the claim.
  • Ensure all applicants successfully complete our pre tenancy programme.
  • Produce an affordability assessment to ensure the rent can be met.
  • During the term of the tenancy, provide advice and assistance for the tenant as necessary.
  • Provide all tenants and landlords / agents with contact details to report and discuss issues.

Keys & Viewings

All viewings arranged by Wigan Housing Solutions will be accompanied, key use will be logged and keys held will be coded and locked away. 

Checking in

We will assist tenants to inform utility suppliers, the Council Tax Office and TV Licensing of their tenancy and the date they moved in.

We will provide an inventory and condition report of the property prior to any tenancy, including photographic evidence where possible.

If you wish to take out a bond guarantee, we will make the arrangements.

We will supply an Assured Shorthold tenancy agreement where required.  The fixed term will be for six months.

Rent Payments

The amount of rent charged will be agreed with you on inspection of the property.  No interest will be paid on any amounts received or held by Wigan Housing Solutions.

Hand over

The property file will then be handed over to you for management, and our involvement under our agreement with you will cease.

 Landlord’s Responsibilities & General Information

The following information has been included to indicate key areas of responsibility which are placed on landlords.  It is for guidance only, and is not intended that the information should be taken as a comprehensive or definitive statement of the law or to be a substitute for formal legal advice. Agents should satisfy themselves that landlords are fully aware of these responsibilities, and this information can be passed to your landlords for guidance.

Safety of electrical system & appliances    

A landlord has a responsibility to ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances supplied with the accommodation are safe. This includes heaters, cookers, kettles, immersion heaters and any other electrical goods.

New rules for domestic electrical safety came in to effect from 1st January 2005, under which electrical work undertaken in kitchens, bathrooms or externally or the addition of new circuits to any part of the dwelling will have to be in accordance with the Building Regulations.

Landlords have a duty of care towards their tenants, and inspections of electrical installations by a suitably qualified electricians every five years and on a change of tenancy are recommended.

Further information can be obtained from www.communities.gov.uk/electricalsafety.

Trading standards departments have a duty to enforce legislation which covers the safety of electrical appliances supplied with accommodation.

If a landlord wants to be sure that electrical appliances meet the regulations, s/he can arrange for an electrician to test each appliance and make a detailed report.

Instruction Manuals:  It is good practice for these to be supplied for all appliances, and a copy left at the property.

Safety of gas appliances    

A landlord must ensure that any gas fittings serving residential premises s/he rents out are safe.

All gas appliances in bathrooms installed after 1 February 1996 must be sealed off from the room. Gas fires, gas heaters and water heaters of more than 14 kilowatts (kW) in bedrooms or bedsitting rooms must be sealed off from the room. However, heating appliances of less than 14 kW, which are not room-sealed, can be fitted in bedrooms or bedsitting rooms, provided they have a device which cuts off the gas supply before a dangerous level of carbon monoxide builds up.

Landlords must ensure that any relevant gas fitting, including any flue which serves the fitting, is maintained in a safe condition. Relevant gas fitting includes gas appliances (except the tenant's own appliances) and pipework in the premises, and appliances or pipework which serve the premises, if the landlord owns them or has control over them.

Landlords must arrange and pay for safety checks and any necessary work to be carried out on appliances at least once every twelve months. The checks must be carried out by a person who is registered with, or employed by a company registered with, Gas Safe Register, which is monitored by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The landlord must keep a record of inspection dates, any defects identified and any remedial action taken. The landlord must give a copy of this record to an existing tenant within 28 days of the date of the check. A new tenant must be provided with a copy before s/he moves in.

The landlord does not have to provide a copy of the inspection record to every tenant on particular premises if the gas appliance is not in the tenant's accommodation, for example, it is a gas boiler serving a block of flats.

If the landlord does not carry out regular inspections of gas appliances or if s/he does not provide the tenant with a copy of the inspection record when required, the tenant can contact the local office of the HSE, which must enforce safety requirements.

The HSE operates a special freephone Gas Safety Advice Line. The contact details are:-

HSE Gas safety helpline
Tel: 0800 300363 (Mon-Fri 8.00am-8.00pm; Sat-Sun 10.00am-4.00pm)
Website: www.hse.gov.uk/gas

Gas Safe Register has details of registered installers. The contact details are:-

Gas Safe Register
Tel: 0800 408 5500
Website: www.gassaferegister.co.uk

Energy performance certificates

From 1st October 2008 an Energy Performance Certificate is required on all properties being newly let. This will show the properties energy efficiency and where improvements can be made. This must be conducted by an accredited assessor, and must be provided by the Landlord prior to any viewings being conducted.

More information is available from:

For further information about energy efficiency, practical advice and grants, contact the Energy Savings Trust: www.est.org.uk

ACT ON CO2 advice line: 0800 512012

Fire & furnishings

The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 (Amended 1993) prescribe the fire safety requirements for furniture and who must comply with them. 

 Furniture fillings of all types, for example, foam, feathers or cotton and upholstery fabrics and coverings must comply with the relevant furniture regulations.

All upholstered furniture made after 1950 must be fire resistant. Since 1 September 1990, manufacturers, retailers and other suppliers of upholstered furniture and furnishing fabrics should have ensured that their products will pass the appropriate cigarette and match combustion tests.

Since 1 March 1993, all secondhand upholstered furniture (made after 1950) sold by retailers must also pass the relevant fire safety tests.

New furniture supplied to customers must carry appropriate labels giving information about the item and its ability to pass fire safety tests. Permanent labels must be attached to a hidden part of the item.

A trader selling unlabelled new furniture will be committing an offence. As labelling is required, it is unlikely that unlabelled furniture will comply with fire safety regulations

Furniture in rented accommodation:    
The regulations apply to both new and secondhand upholstered furniture made after 1950 and intended for use in residential furnished accommodation let in the course of business. This includes houses, flats, bedsits or holiday homes (including new caravans).

The types of furniture affected include sofas, armchairs, cushions, nursery and bedroom furniture and upholstered garden furniture, such as recliners.

Any furniture (including secondhand furniture) provided by a landlord in a letting of accommodation on a business basis, which began on or after 1 March 1993, must be fire resistant.

If the letting began before 1 March 1993 and the same tenant is still in residence, furniture supplied before 1 March 1993 does not have to be fire resistant. However, any furniture supplied after this date, whether it is additional or a replacement, must meet the fire safety requirements.

Security Deposits

From 6 April 2007, landlords must use a tenancy deposit protection scheme if they wish to take a security deposit for an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.

A landlord cannot ask for a security deposit in any form other than money, and any money taken as security against a tenant failing to meet her/his obligations or liabilities counts as a security deposit and must be protected.

A tenancy deposit protection scheme is one that safeguards the deposit, so that a tenant is guaranteed to get it back at the end of the tenancy, provided s/he is entitled to it. It also provides an alternative dispute resolution service to sort out any disagreements between the landlord and tenant about the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

There are three authorised tenancy deposit protection schemes. One is a custodial scheme and the other two are insurance-based schemes. It is up to the landlord which scheme s/he wishes to join.

In the custodial scheme, which is free to both landlords and tenants, the landlord pays the deposit into the scheme. The deposit is held in an account administered by the scheme and will earn interest.

In an insurance-based scheme, the landlord keeps the deposit, but has to pay registration and insurance fees to the scheme. The scheme guarantees payment to the tenant if landlord does not pay the tenant the amount s/he is entitled to at the end of the tenancy.

 If a bond guarantee from the Wigan Bond Scheme is taken, then these requirements will not apply to the letting concerned. Further details are available from Wigan Housing Solutions.

Alarms

It is recommended that smoke alarms be fitted to properties, to ensure that the landlord’s duty of care to the tenant is carried out. Where necessary a fire risk assessment should be carried out to determine any potential risks. This can be done through your local fire service, and we can assist in arranging this.  Wigan Housing Solutions will also fit a carbon monoxide alarm in each property let or managed free of charge.

Discrimination

A landlord must not unlawfully discriminate against an occupier or prospective occupier, for example, in the terms on which s/he offers a tenancy or in the way s/he treats her/his tenants. It is unlawful for a landlord to discriminate against a tenant on grounds of disability, race or sex, by treating her/him less favourably, for example, by demanding a higher rent from a disabled.

A landlord also has a duty to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when this is requested by a disabled occupier or prospective occupier.

A statutory Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Housing, based on the provisions of the Race Relations Act 1976, applies to all providers of housing and related services, both in the public and private sectors. This includes landlords, house builders, private sellers and estate agents.  Copies of the Codes are available from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website at www.equalityhumanrights.com.

Wigan Housing Solutions can advise you further on these issues.

The Data Protection Act 1998

Information you supply will be securely kept in hard copy files in our office and on our computer databases.  You can view the information held by us by contacting our office and requesting to do so, giving reasonable notice. We will not pass this information to any third party without your permission or unless required to do so by law.

Please note that under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 section 48 we must supply the tenant with details of the landlord, including their name and the address at which notices can be served.

Mortgages

If the property has a mortgage which is not ‘buy to let’, the landlord is required to obtain the lenders consent prior to any tenancy. You are requested to ensure that we are informed of any mortgage arrears. This is to ensure that the tenancy is not affected.  Please note, however, that applications from landlords with arrears will not necessarily be declined, and each case will be considered individually. You are also requested to check that your mortgage, whatever the type, allows you to let the property to Housing Benefit tenants.

The landlord is also advised to check any leasehold agreements to determine if any permission to let the property is needed from the freeholder.

Insurance

The landlord is responsible for ensuring adequate insurance is obtained. As a minimum this should cover buildings and injury to persons residing in or visiting the premises. This should be in place prior to any viewings.  The tenants are responsible for insuring only their personal belongings.

The Non Resident Landlords Scheme

If a landlord’s usual place of abode is overseas, we must deduct tax on the rental income and forward this to Inland Revenue. However, the landlord can apply for exemption directly to Inland Revenue. For further details of this scheme please contact us or Inland Revenue directly.  Unless we receive an exemption certificate we will have to deduct tax at the appropriate rate 

If you have any further comments or require further information please not hesitate to contact us on 01942 216843