Information for tenants

Aims & Principles

The aims of the Wigan Bond Scheme :

  • To reduce homelessness in the Wigan Borough and the need to use temporary accommodation..

  • To provide help and support in finding and retaining accommodation.

  • To increase the use of good, private rented accommodation for people in housing need(including homeless families and people found to e intentionally homeless) who are unable to afford to purchase their own homes and who are not eligible or would have difficulty accessing social housing.

The Bond Scheme will offer you a free service:

We do not charge service users for any of our services

The Bond Scheme is impartial and will help:  

  • eligible clients to find suitable properties and to manage their tenancies successfully;
  • landlords to find suitable tenants, and will offer mediation to resolve tenancy problems

The Bond Scheme will support freedom of choice:

The decision to accept either a tenant or a property will be the choice of the individuals involved rather than the Bond Scheme. 

The Bond Scheme is committed to equal opportunities:

We will help to improve access to housing services for all.

 Details of the Service

These notes have been prepared to tell you about the Wigan Bond Scheme, which has been set up to help people who cannot find somewhere to live because they have no priority on the Council or Housing Association waiting lists, and who have difficulty in raising a security deposit to enable them to get a private rented house. 

Wigan Housing Solutions also operates a Let only, Management service and a Private Sector Leasing scheme. Properties are available on these schemes but are very limited and therefore we will inform you on your registration whether we have any suitable properties available, and if so – details of the relevant scheme. Further details on these options and how allocations are made are available on request.

 What is the Wigan Bond Scheme?

The scheme has been set up by the Wigan Homelessness Forum to provide bond guarantees to landlords on behalf of new tenants who are unable to afford a security deposit.

bond guarantee is a legally binding agreement between the Bond Scheme, the landlord and the tenant which replaces the ‘up-front’ cash deposit normally required by landlords to cover the cost of any damage to or loss of their property when a tenant moves out.  If landlords face the costs of such damage or loss, they can make a claim against the bond to recover the money.

But we don’t just provide bonds.  We also provide practical help and advice to help you to find a home and to run it successfully, and we will introduce you to Unify Credit Union, who run savings and loan schemes that will help you to gain financial independence and avoid the loan sharks with their exorbitant rates of interest.

The scheme relies on you co operating and maintaining contact with us throughout the tenancy.

 Who can join the scheme?

We will consider applications for a bond from homeless people or those facing homelessness in the near future if:

  • you are on job seeker’s allowance, income support, a low wage or otherwise unable to raise the cash for a security bond; and
  • you have a local connection or other valid reason for wanting to live in the Wigan Borough;and
  • you would not be owed the full homelessness duty by the local authority. 

If we feel that you would be owed a homeless duty by the local authority we will support you in making your application.

When we consider your application for a bond we will want to be assured you are willing to make a success of your tenancy.  We won’t judge your past; we are interested in seeing you move forward, and are here to help.

 What does the Wigan Bond Scheme offer you?

If you want to become a tenant it can:

  • be a route out of homelessness into private renting with an accredited landlord.
  • provide a bond guarantee instead of your having to raise the cash for a security deposit.
  • help you join Unify, the local credit union.
  • help with your Local Housing Allowance (Formerly Housing Benefit) claim.
  • make sure that the property you move into meets proper standards.
  • give you advice about your rights and responsibilities.
  • give advice on budgeting and money matters.

 How do I apply?

You can get in touch with us direct by calling us on the numbers shown above.

If another agency is presently helping you, you can ask them to write to us on your behalf.

 What does the bond guarantee cover?

As a tenant, you will be responsible for looking after the property in a ‘tenant-like’ manner.  This means taking care not to damage the property, fittings or furniture (if applicable) and by doing jobs which can reasonably be expected of you, for example, cleaning, unblocking a drain, mending a fuse, or taking reasonable precautions to avoid burst pipes in cold weather.  (A tenant is not, however, responsible for making good 'fair wear and tear'. This is the landlord's responsibility, and it would include, for example, floor coverings worn by normal use).  

The bond guarantee provides security for the landlord and is intended to cover the cost of putting the property right or of replacing missing items in cases where the tenant has not met their responsibilities.  The maximum amount of a bond guarantee is £500.

We would like as many people as possible to benefit from our service.  If you are given a tenancy, please look after your home and be a responsible tenant and neighbour.  In this way, you can play your part in encouraging landlords to take part in the scheme again.

Please remember that you are liable for any claims paid out on your behalf by the Bond Scheme.  It is in your interest to tell us when you are leaving the property to avoid a claim being made without your knowledge.  Do not let yourself become liable for something that you did not do.

Bonds are backed in cash by Government funds provided through Wigan Council.

The scheme does NOT cover rent arrears.

 How does the Wigan Bond Scheme work?

If your application for a bond is accepted, in order to help you find a suitable place we will:

  • ask you to join a workshop on finding a home.  The workshops also cover budgeting and housing matters, and will play an important part in making your tenancy a success.   
  • give you a ‘Home Choice’ pack of useful information about house-hunting.  This includes a letter of introduction for the landlord, which explains the Bond Scheme and how to go ahead if you both agree to a tenancy.
  • tell you about any properties that we have available or know of
  • be available to offer you advice and support with home finding.

You should use your own judgment when viewing a property.  You are under no obligation to accept an offer of accommodation if it is not what you want.

It is up to the landlord to decide whether he/she wishes to give you a tenancy.  We cannot get involved if the landlord decides not to accept you.

If you wish to accept the property offered to you by the landlordwe will:

  • ensure that the property meets required standards.
  • help you with your Local Housing Allowance application.  A full benefit check will also be available for you, and we will try to ensure that Local Housing Allowance is processed by the local authority as quickly as possible.
  • arrange an appointment for you and your landlord to sign the Bond Guarantee Agreement at the property. 
  • carry out an inspection to draw up an inventory of the property, which includes all fixtures and fittings.

Please do not move into the property before the Bond Guarantee Agreement is signed by you, the landlord and the Bond Scheme.  If you do so, no cover will be provided by us.
Why we inspect properties

Why we inspect properties

If you have found a property where the landlord is willing to accept a bond guarantee, the property must first be inspected by us to ensure it meets the standards set under the scheme and is fit to let.  However, if the property does not meet the standards, it will not be accepted by us and a bond guarantee will not be offered.  This may be inconvenient for you, but the inspection is carried out in the interest of your health and safety.

We will also check that the landlord does not have a record of harassment or illegal eviction of tenants.  All landlords accepted on to the scheme will be asked to demonstrate a responsible approach to managing the property, and an awareness of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property.

 Local Housing Allowance and Rent Levels

If you need to make a claim for Local Housing Allowance when you find a property, we can assist you and inform you of how much allowance you will receive. If the Local Housing Allowance will not cover the full rent, we will check out any options there may be for further help towards meeting the amount of rent due.

If you are required to meet part of the rent out of your own pocket, you must make an agreement with your landlord as to how and when it will be paid to him/her.  We will have worked out a budgeting plan with you at a workshop.

Your Local Housing Allowance will usually paid directly to your landlord.

If you experience problems in paying your rent to the landlord, and are worried about getting into rent arrears, we would encourage you to discuss the situation with us,  or contact an advice agency such as the Citizen Advice Bureau or Shelter.  The address and telephone numbers are given below.

 If you wish to give up the tenancy or if you have left the property, please let us know immediately

You should give your landlord the required period of notice (usually 4 weeks).

Please respond quickly to any enquiries from us as to whether you are still living at the property.

  How are claims against the bond guarantee attended to?

If your landlord makes a claim, we will investigate it thoroughly before we decide to make a payment to the landlord, and will contact you and the landlord to get both sides of the story before a decision is made regarding the claim. 

The inventory, which you and the landlord signed at the beginning of the tenancy, is very important in these circumstances as it will be used to prove the existence and condition of items in the property and will help to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes.  A visit to the property will be necessary to inspect any damage or loss if that is the reason for the claim.  The landlord is unable to claim for ordinary wear and tear to items in the property.

The landlord must inform the police immediately if the claim is for criminal damage or theft.  We will contact the police for information regarding any alleged offence.

If a claim arises and it is proved that you were responsible for damage, theft etc., you will be excluded from the scheme and you cannot re-apply for a bond guarantee until you have repaid the money.  If we have to pay out any money, we will use appropriate action to recover the full amount from you. 

The landlord may ask you to leave if deliberate damage or theft has been caused to the property or its contents.  The landlord must serve you with the appropriate notice of seeking possession, and a court order is required before you can be made to leave.

The success of the Wigan Bond Scheme depends on your co-operation.  Please take care of the property you are renting to avoid claims from landlords.  This will allow us to help many more people in the future.

 Who runs the scheme?

Wigan Bond Scheme is a Project operated by Wigan Homelessness Forum.

The Forum represents the statutory and voluntary agencies in the Borough who have come together to tackle homelessness.

For further information you can check out our website at
www.wiganhomelessnessforum.org.uk

The site contains a lot of useful information about housing in the borough.

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