This section has information on:
There are three main ways of renting accommodation:
- A council owned property
- A registered social landlord
- A private property owned by a landlord
There are usually very long waiting lists for council and social accommodation, and some organisations will not register you until you have been resident and working here for 12 months.
Wigan Council owns approximately 22,500 properties and is the biggest housing provider in Wigan. The Council employs Wigan & Leigh Housing (WALH) to manage Council housing - this includes the allocation of Council housing to people on the waiting list. WALH allocate Council housing through its 2 Property Shops based in Wigan & Leigh town centres. You can also register your interest in Council housing on the website. For more information go to the Wigan and Leigh Housing website (external link) or call 01942 404128.
Registered Social Landlord
There are several RSLs that operate in the borough and they manage around 2000 properties between them. However some of these properties are specialist housing such as sheltered housing for older people. A list of all the RSLs that operate in Borough can be found on the Council's website (external link) or ring 01942 828970.
Private landlords will normally rent their property a commercial rate. Make sure you get a tenancy agreement and read it carefully before signing it. Many private landlords use an estate agent to manage their homes.
If you are looking for somewhere to rent privately in Wigan, you can try looking in local newspapers and some newsagents and corner shops have adverts in their windows. Estate agents often have details of properties to rent or you can look at:
Since April 2008 there is a new way of working out Housing Benefit for people who live in privately rented property and who are on a low income. Local Housing Allowance is designed to be fairer and simpler to understand. Below are links that you may find useful if you are looking to rent a property in the private sector:
A private landlord will normally ask for a deposit of at least one month’s rent. You should make sure that the condition of the property and any items of furniture are recorded in what you sign and that the tenancy agreements states:
- How much the deposit is and who holds it
- When money can be deducted from the deposit for unpaid rent or damage to the property
- When you will get the deposit back
All deposits on rented accommodation have to be held in one of two schemes set up by the government to safeguard tenants’ deposits.
If you miss any rent payments, your landlord may be able to ask you to leave your house and make you pay the rent you owe. If this happens you can ask for advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (external link), the private sector housing team of Shelter (external link).
For further information on renting in the private sector please go to Housing Options (external link) on the Wigan Council website.
Landlords are responsible for most repairs to the outside or structure of a property. This means that the landlord must arrange and pay for repairs to any problems with the roof, chimneys, walls, guttering and drains. Landlords are also responsible for keeping the equipment for supplying water, gas and electricity in safe working order.
Landlords must ensure that all gas appliances (fires, water heaters, ovens) are maintained in good working order and the landlord must arrange for an annual safety check on gas appliances to be carried out by a CORGI registered engineer.
Tenants often have responsibility for minor repairs and maintenance such as:
- Internal decoration
- Furniture or equipment
- Unblocking the sink
- Replacing fuses.
If you experience difficulties with your landlord regarding repairs to your home, please visit the Private Sector Housing (external link) section of the Wigan Council website.
You should take care not to behave in a way that could upset or annoy your neighbours. Antisocial behaviour is a legal reason for removing you from your property, regardless of what kind of tenancy you have. Antisocial behaviour can include things like:
- Having you stereo or TV on too loudly
- Not keeping pets under control
- Allowing your children to be a nuisance
- Leaving rubbish piled outside your home
- Making a lot of noise outside your home, or when you come in
- Using the house for illegal activities such as prostitution or drug dealing
As well as respecting your neighbours, you should not behave in an antisocial or aggressive way towards your landlord. You are responsible for the behaviour of everyone in your household and of everyone staying with or visiting you.
For futher details of your responsibilities as a tenant please visit the Shelter website(external link)
Ending your tenancy properly
If you want to move out, it is very important to end your tenancy properly. You cannot just post the keys through the letterbox and walk away otherwise you could end up still having to pay the rent even though you are no longer living there. It may be possible to end the tenancy immediately if the landlord accepts this (get their acceptance in writing), but you normally have to tell your landlord at least one month before you want to leave. Check your notice period with your landlord and also the terms on your tenancy agreement.
Landlords have to follow set procedures to be able to make you leave your property. In some circumstances landlords have to say why they want to evict a tenant: there is a lot of legal conditions to this. In many situations however landlords do not have to give grounds to get their property back. Always get advice immediately from the Citizens Advice Bureau (external link) or Shelter (external link) if your landlord asks you to leave the property.
Your rights as a tenant
You have the right to live in the property as your home and the landlord must ask your permission before entering. The landlord does not have the right to use their own keys to get into your home, whether you are in the property or whether you are out at the time. Landlords must also not use threatening or intimidating behaviour to get you to leave the property. For them to get you to leave the property there is a legal procedure for them to follow. For more information on illegal eviction and harassment please see the council's policy on Illegal eviction (external link) or ring 01942 487728
When you are looking for a home to buy there are a number of options you can consider. Looking in the local newspaper property sections and using one of several property sales websites can identify homes that may suit your needs. There are also affordable home ownership schemes in Wigan Borough – for more information go to the Council's website (external link) or call 01942 828953
Bins and rubbish
Rubbish bins are emptied every week by the Council. You must put your black wheelie bin at the edge of your property by 7 am in the morning to make sure it is emptied. Bins which are so full that the lids do not close may not be emptied. You must move your bin back on to your property when it has been emptied.
If you are not sure which day your bins are emptied, ask your neighbours or watch to see when and where they put their bins. Call 01942 404364 or visit the Council website (external link) for more information
If you have large items of rubbish which need removing, you can arrange for the Council to take up to 3 items of bulky household furniture items for free. This is limited to one collection of this kind per household per year. Call 01942 404364 or visit the Council's pages on 'Bulky Household waste' (external link)for further details.
You can also take items that you no longer need, as well as old glass bottles, cans, paper and plastic bottles to a recycling centre. See the Council website’s pages on recycling (external link) for maps of the recycling centres and other information. Some recycling is collected from your property every two weeks
Litter and fouling
Dropping rubbish (‘litter’) on the streets is an offence, and you can be fined for it. Please use the bins provided in public areas or take your rubbish home with you.
If you allow your dog to foul the streets or parks, then you are responsible for picking it up and disposing of it in appropriate containers. You can be fined if you do not do this.
Council tax is a payment to Wigan Council for the services that it provides, including emergency services, rubbish collection and street cleaning. Nearly everyone has to pay council tax, though you may get a discount if there is only one adult over the age of 18 living in your property, if you have full-time adult students living in your house, or if you are on benefits or a low income.
Different councils charge different amounts of council tax, and the rate of tax you will have to pay will depend on the size of the property; generally, the larger the house the more you have to pay.
You will need to register for council tax at your council offices. If you don’t pay your council tax you may be taken to court. For more information visit the Wigan Council 'Council tax' webpages (external link).
Transport and Travelling
This section has information about:
- Single ticket: this covers only one journey in one direction
- Return ticket: covers a single journey in both directions, and is cheaper than a one-way ticket if you are returning on the same day using the same bus company.
- Day Saver ticket: you can make any number of journeys using the same bus company for one day. These can be used to travel into Manchester or Bolton.
- One-Week ticket: this is the cheapest way to travell but you can only use it for the bus company that you buy it from.
- Children under 5 can travel on buses free of charge.
Using the bus
You can get free bus timetables and maps showing all the bus routes from the bus stations in Wigan and Leigh or at the GMPTE wesbite (external link). At most stops on the bus route you should hold out your hand to get the bus to stop for you. To get off the bus, press one of the red STOP buttons before the bus gets to your stop. If you are not sure where you need to get off, ask the bus driver to tell you when he gets to the stop you want.
Black taxis can be more expensive than public transport with the price going up depending on how far you are travelling. The cost of the fare is shown on a meter in the front of the car, but the driver might add more if you have got big bags. If you are travelling very late at night or early in the morning, the meter will be switched on to the more expensive night rate. You can get a taxi from the train stations, from Bradshawgate in Leigh, and from outside the market in Wigan.
Minicabs (also called private hire cars) are like taxis but you have to book them by telephoning or visiting the office. They are cheaper than taxis and usually have a fixed price for taking you from one part of the town to another, but they are still more expensive to use than a bus, unless 3 or 4 people are sharing a minicab. It is illegal for minicabs to pick up customers from the street; you must book the car in advance. You need to ask the office or telephone operator how much the journey will cost and tell them when and where to collect you. You can find numbers for minicab firms in the phone book or at yell.com
The cheapest way to travel outside the Manchester area is by coach (long-distance bus). You can travel all over the UK. To find out which companies go to which cities and to buy tickets, go to the main bus station in Wigan and Leigh or contact traveline (external link) on 0871 200 22 33
Trains in the UK are fast but can be expensive. Several companies operate on the same journeys and ticket prices vary a lot: you can ask at the station for the cheapest deals going to your destination. The most expensive fares are the ones to travel before 9.30 am in the morning. It is cheaper to travel in the middle of the day and at weekends. It is sometimes cheaper to buy your train ticket two weeks or more before the day you want to travel. However, if you buy a ticket and then need to travel on a different day, you may have to pay for a new ticket.
You can buy train tickets at most train stations: if the station ticket office is closed then you should buy your ticket on the train. You can also buy train tickets with a credit card or debit card by telephone on the National Rail Enquiries number, and they will be sent to your house, as long as you do this a few days before your journey. For more information visit the National Rail website (external link)
Children under 5 can travel on trains free of charge.
Getting a driving licence
If you have a foreign driving licence, you can use this to drive a car in the UK for up to 12 months. During this time you must apply for a provisional UK licence and then take a theory test and a practical test to get a full UK licence. There is more information about driving licences on the DVLA website (external link) . You can get the forms for a provisional licence at the Post Office.
To drive a car in the UK you must pay for the following:
- A certificate of insurance
- A Ministry of Transport (M.O.T) Certificate (for vehicles over three years old).
- Road Tax (from the Post Office).
To drive a car without these documents is a criminal offence. If you are found driving without these documents you will have to pay a large fine and you risk going to prison. For more information visit the DVLA website (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) (external link)