- What is an Allocation Policy?
- How does the housing scheme work?
- Do you offer help and advice?
- How do I apply for a home?
- Who is eligible to apply for a home?
- People from abroad
- People who have behaved unacceptably
- People with housing related debts
- Can I apply to join the Housing Register if I am under 18?
- How will my application be assessed?
- What if I have medical or welfare needs?
- What if I am in hospital or short term residential care?
- What if I do not have a local connection to the borough?
- Qualifying Criteria for Group A
- Qualifying Criteria for Group B
- Group B Priority – Points Reduction
- Housing Related Debt
- Anti Social or Criminal Behaviour
- Other Behaviour
- Home Owners
- Group C Priority – Standard Housing Need
- What type of property can I be considered for?
- Where can I find out what properties are available?
- How do I bid for a property?
- When do you allocate properties?
- What happens if my bid has been successful?
- Will you let me know if my bid is unsuccessful?
- What if I need help to bid for properties?
- Can I swap homes with another tenant?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other organisations involved in the Housing Scheme
- Appeals, Reviews and Complaints
This booklet explains Wigan Council’s policy on applying for accommodation and how properties are let.
Wigan Council have a choice based lettings scheme that lets you choose where you would like to live. The majority of available homes are advertised each week and once you have been accepted onto the housing register you can look for a home using the Housing Options Property Shop website or weekly property sheet.
As well as advertising council properties, we also advertise properties on behalf of housing associations, private landlords and low cost home ownership schemes.
2 What is an Allocation Policy?
It is a set of rules that tells us who can be considered for social housing and how people on the housing register are prioritised for housing. This booklet is a summary of those rules. Click on this link (pdf, 100KB) to download a copy of the full allocation policy or ask for one from the Housing Options Property Shop or any housing office.
3 How does the housing scheme work?
Approximately 80% of advertised properties will be let to applicants who have the greatest housing need. See section 12-14 for further information.
Approximately 15% of properties will be let as follows:
||Wigan Council or Housing Association tenants who can demonstrate a good tenancy record. In order of longest on the register
||Time Based (TB)
||Open to all applicants provided they have no housing related debts or breach of tenancy conditions
||Time Based (TB)
||All flats and bungalows|
Sometimes properties may be let direct to an applicant in urgent housing need so these properties may not be advertised.
4 Do you offer help and advice?
Free help and advice is available at the Housing Options Property Shop and any Housing Office. See the Contact Us page for more details.
Applying and Eligibility
5 How do I apply for a home?
You will need to fill in an application form. They are available from the Housing Options Property Shop or any Housing Office or you can fill one in online.
The application form is quite detailed but all the questions are relevant and you must answer them. This will help us to process your application fully and quickly.
Each household, with the exception of existing council tenants, must provide two references. If it is a joint application and you have been together for less than 12 months you will need two references each. If you are, or have been a tenant, at least one of the references should be from your current or former landlord. Otherwise they should come from your current or former employer, or a professional person. We do not accept references from friends or relatives.
You should use the checklist on page 13 of the application form to make sure you give us all the supporting information we ask for. Once you have filled in your application form, send it to the Housing Options Property Shop.
We aim to process your application within 10 working days of receiving it, as long as we have all the supporting information we need. We will write to you to tell you your registration date, reference number and the priority you have been awarded on the housing register.
If we can’t process your application we will write to you to tell you what we need. You will have 6 weeks to give us the information or your application will be cancelled. If you want to join the housing register at a later date you would need to complete a new application form.
6 Who is eligible to apply for a home?
Anyone over the age of 18 can apply to go on the housing register, however there are some people who can’t join the register. They are:
6.1 People from abroad
The Law says we cannot offer you a property if:
- You are from abroad and subject to immigration control
- You are not habitually resident in the Common Travel Area – that is – you don’t live permanently in Ireland, Great Britain, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
The rules on immigration are very complicated. Please contact the Housing Options Property Shop for advice.
6.2 People who have behaved unacceptably
If you are not considered suitable to be a tenant due to unacceptable behaviour we may not accept your application to join the housing register or we may reduce your priority on the register. See section 13 for information about points reduction.
Examples of unacceptable behaviour, which could apply to you or any member of your household include;
- Anti-social behaviour
- Drug Dealing
- Racial Harassment
- Not keeping to tenancy rules
- Failure to pay rent or other charges
- Providing false or misleading information in order to obtain housing.
If you are excluded because of unacceptable behaviour we will write to you and tell you the reasons. We will also tell you what changes we would expect, to show us that the risk of unacceptable behaviour has been reduced.
You may also be invited to attend a series of workshops to discuss the effects of anti-social behaviour on neighbours and the community and gain skills on how to manage a tenancy.
6.3 People with housing related debts
If you owe a significant amount of money and there is evidence to show that you failed to reduce this debt for no apparent reason then your application may be excluded from the housing register.
7 Can I apply to join the Housing Register if I am under 18?
In exceptional circumstances yes, but by law a person under 18 cannot hold a legal estate in land. If you are under 18 and have a serious housing problem or are threatened with homelessness please speak to a housing options advisor who will offer you advice and support.
Assessment Process and Grouping Scheme
8 How will my application be assessed?
Depending on your personal circumstances and housing need your application will be placed in either:
Group A - Urgent housing need
Group B - Housing need
Group C - Standard housing need
Priority will go to applicants in Group A, then to applicants with the highest points in Group B then to applicants in Group C. Only people in Group B are given points.
9 What if I have medical or welfare needs?
If you have told us on your application form that your current home is not suitable we will send you a separate application form to apply for medical and/or welfare priority. You can also collect a form from the Housing Options Property Shop or any Housing Office.
You may want to provide supporting information, for example from your GP or Support Worker, which will be taken into consideration when assessing your application.
Your medical and/or welfare application will be considered within 20 working days however in some circumstances a final decision may take longer. A medical or welfare award may be given if you, or a member of your household, needs to be re-housed to reduce any harmful effect your current housing is having on the health or welfare of the household members. Once we have a decision we will write and tell you the outcome.
Medical and welfare priority can be reviewed at any time if there is a change in your circumstances. If you refuse three offers of suitable accommodation without a good reason we may remove medical or welfare priority.
10 What if I am in hospital or in short term residential care?
We will work with the Health Authority and where appropriate visit you in hospital so that we can assess your housing circumstances and make sure you are awarded the correct level of priority on the housing register.
11 What if I do not have a local connection to the borough?
If you do not live in the Wigan borough and cannot demonstrate a local connection to the borough you can still apply to join the housing register. However your application will either be placed in Group B with a reduction to 2 points or Group C.
12 Qualifying Criteria for Group A
Group A is awarded to applicants in the categories set out in the table below who have a local connection to the Wigan borough.
Applicants in Group A will be prioritised by the date their application went in to that group. Where applicants have the same Group A entry date, they will be ordered by the date their housing application was registered.
Applicants with outstanding housing related debts may be awarded Group A priority as long as they agree to a repayment plan.
Group A Priority – Urgent Housing Need
- Applicants living in properties subject to Compulsory Purchase Orders or Demolition Orders.
- Applicants leaving the UK Armed Forces and only have 2 months left to their discharge date.
- Young people leaving local authority care who are continuing to engage positively with their re-housing and support plan.
- Approved foster carers or Supported Lodgings hosts requiring a move as their current accommodation is unsuitable to provide the service.
- Applicants suffering severe hardship where urgent re-housing is required. Each case will be considered individually and priority will be awarded only in exceptional circumstances.
- Applicants that are homeless or threatened with homelessness where a full investigation has been carried out and statutory re-housing duty is owed under the Homelessness legislation.
- Vulnerable applicants or families that are threatened with homelessness where advice and assistance has been provided and all other options have beenexhausted and it is clear that homelessness is imminent and inevitable.
- Applicants will have a local connection to the borough when one or more of the following applies:
- You live in the borough or have lived in the borough previously
- You are employed in the borough
- You have family in the borough
- There are special circumstances as to why you need to live in the borough
|Group B Priority – Housing Need
|Medical 1: urgent priority – where an applicant needs to be re-housed urgently to reduce the impact of their current housing situation on their health or wellbeing subject to assessment
|Medical 2: high priority - where an applicant needs to be re-housed to reduce the impact of their current housing situation on their health or wellbeing subject to assessment
|Welfare 1: urgent priority – where an applicant can demonstrate a need that requires urgent re-housing to resolve or alleviate a situation subject to assessment
|Welfare 2: high priority - where an applicant’s wellbeing would clearly benefit from a move subject to assessment
|Relationship breakdown but still living with former partner
|Established couple or families who are living apart because there is no suitable accommodation available to them
|Applicants with children 7 years and under living in a flat above ground floor level
|Applicants living in bedsits with parental access to children
|Applicants living in an adapted Council or Housing Association property but no longer require the adaptations
|Applicants living in a property which lacks normal facilities such as washing/cooking facilities or where the property is in a dangerous or poor condition and efforts have been made to address this through Environmental Services
|Applicants moving on from short term supported housing who have successfully completed a programme of support and are now ready for independent living
|Insecure tenure high level: applies to applicants living in a hotel, non residential accommodation or who are of no fixed abode. Also applied to applicants with children under 10 years old who are lodging
|Insecure tenure standard level: applies to applicants who are lodging or living with parents
|Under-occupation: applies to tenants of Wigan Council or a Housing Association that are releasing a 4 bedroom house and moving to a smaller property
|Overcrowding: applies to tenants of Wigan Council or a Housing Association moving from a house to a flat or bungalow
|Overcrowding: each bedroom lacking
|Overcrowding: additional point for applicants living in a property that only has one bedroom.
|Tied tenants of Council/Housing Association accommodation where an applicant will lose their accommodation that is provided to them as part of their job e.g. scheme managers
|Waiting Time – 1 point awarded for each full year an application is active on the housing register up to a maximum of 5 points. Group B only.
13 Qualifying Criteria for Group B Priority
Applicants in Group B will be prioritised by the number of points they are awarded. Where applicants have the same number of points they will be ordered by the date their application was made active on the housing register. Points will be added together if an applicant has more than one level of need.
113a Group B Priority – Points Reduction
Applicants in Group B may have their points reduced because of:
|Group B Priority – Points reduction
|Housing related debts. Deduction in points dependent on level of debt
||Reduction to 1|
|Anti-social or criminal behaviour
||Reduction to 1|
|Failing to disclose relevant information
||Reduction to 1|
|Group B Priority – Points reduction
|No local connection
||Reduction to 2 |
|Home owners with equity over £85,000
||Reduction to 2 |
13b Housing Related Debt
This is current or former tenancy arrears; rechargeable repair costs; court costs and warrant fees. It does not apply to Housing Benefit overpayment.
Your application will not normally be made active until you have made regular payments to reduce the debt for at least 13 weeks. Once you have made payments your application will be made active and a reduction in points will be applied for any outstanding housing debts. We will deduct points on a sliding scale according to the level of debt.
For example if the outstanding debt is;
- £0 - £99 - point deduction is 0
- £100 - £199 - point deduction is 2
- £200 - £299 - point deduction is 4
- £300 - £399 - point deduction is 6
- And so on in steps of £100 until points are reduced to 1.
As you pay off your debt, we will increase your points in line with the table above.
You could also clear the debt in full, in which case your application will be made active and there will be no reduction in points.
If you decide to set up an agreement it is important that you keep your repayments up to date. If you miss any payments and we make you an offer of accommodation the offer may be withdrawn if you have not kept the repayments up to date.
Current Council tenants and Housing Association tenants will not normally be allowed to transfer to another property until all housing debts are cleared.
13c Anti-social or Criminal Behaviour
We will reduce points where there is evidence that an applicant has been involved in anti social or criminal behaviour but where the behaviour is not considered serious enough to exclude them from the housing register. If an applicant can provide clear evidence that their behaviour has improved we may give back points.
13d Other Behaviour
We will reduce points where there is evidence that an applicant has deliberately made their circumstances worse to get priority on the housing register. The reduction will usually be applied for six months after which time the application will be re-assessed.
13e Lack of Local Connection
We will reduce your points to 2 if you cannot demonstrate a local connection to the Wigan borough, as detailed at section 11.
13f Home Owners
If you are likely to receive more than £85,000 income from the sale of your home, your priority on the housing register may reduce. Until we receive confirmation of what you expect to receive from the sale of your home, your application may not be awarded the correct priority. This applies to any property sales within the last 12 months.
14 Group C Priority – Standard Housing Need
Applicants in Group C will be prioritised by the date their housing application was accepted on the housing register.
Group C Priority – Standard Housing Need
Applicants who have no housing need such as owner occupiers or tenants who are adequately housed
Applicants in HM forces who are not yet ready to take up a tenancy
Applicants living in supported housing who are not yet ready to move on
Applicants in prison who are not yet able to able to take up a tenancy
Applicants who are in HM Forces, prison or living in supported accommodation will have their application reassessed and placed in the relevant group once they are ready for re-housing.
15 What type of property can I be considered for?
As a general guide, these are the types of properties you can be considered for.
|Type of Property
|Flats / Bedsits
Flat / Bedsit
|One bedroom flat
||Single person or couple – including those with access to a child
|Two bedroom flat on the ground floor
||Single person, couple, two adults, a person who has access to one or more children or family who need two bedrooms
|Two bedroom flat above the ground floor
||Single person, couple, two adults, a person who has access to one or more children or family who need two bedrooms and the youngest child is at least 12 years old.
||One bedroom bungalow
||Single person or couple. At least one of the occupants must be over the age of 60 years.
||Applicants aged under 60 years who need bungalow accommodation for medical reasons may be considered. Age criteria can be reduced to 55 if no demand from over 60’s.|
|Two bedroom bungalow
||At least one of the occupants must be over the age of 60 years and the size and nature of the household means that two bedrooms are required.
||As above. Also, if there are no applicants in group A or with 10 points or more needing 2 bedrooms, the property can be let to a single person or couple in urgent need (A or 10 points+).|
||Single person over the age of 60 years.
Age criteria can be reduced if no demand, provided that
an assessment of need show that the applicant would benefit from sheltered.
|One bedroom flat or bungalow
||Single person or couple. At lease one of the occupants must be over the age of 60 years.|
||Two bedroom house
||Families who need two bedroom accommodation.
Social sector tenants releasing a 4 bed+ house can be considered for a two or three bed house, irrespective of bed requirements.
||Families who need two/three bedroom accommodation.|
|Three bedroom parlour
||Families who need three or four bedroom accommodation|
|Four bed plus
||Families who need at least the number of bedrooms in the house.
Not necessarily offered to the highest on the list. For 4 bed+ houses the size of household and current accommodation should be taken into account. For adapted properties – the household with the greatest need for the adaptation taking into account existing accommodation.
||Purpose built or adapted property
||A separate bedroom is allocated to each:
Couple (married/civil partnership or cohabiting)
Adult aged 21 years and over
Pair of children or young people under 21 years of the same sex
Pair of children under 10 years regardless of sex
Advertising and Bidding
16 Where can I find out what properties are available?
Properties are advertised on a weekly cycle from 9:00am each Thursday until 5:30pm the following Tuesday. We do not advertise any properties on a Wednesday.
You can find out what properties are available by:
- Visiting our website - propertyshop.walh.co.uk
- Collecting a weekly property sheet from the Housing Options Property Shop, any Housing Office or Library
- Telephoning the Housing Options Property Shop on 01942 404091 (Leigh) or 01942 404128 (Wigan)
17 How do I bid for a property?
You have between 9:00am each Thursday to 5:30pm the following Tuesday to bid for as many advertised properties as you wish providing you meet the property criteria. It makes no difference which day you place your bid. Properties are allocated when the bidding closes to the person who is highest on the housing register.
You can bid for properties by:
- Visiting the Housing Options Property Shops or any Housing Office
- Telephoning the Housing Options Property Shops
- Emailing us at email@example.com
- Visiting our website – propertyshop.walh.co.uk
- Texting us on 07797 806546. To use this service you need to text APP followed by your reference number, then PROP followed by the void reference numbers of the properties you wish to bid for.
For example APP87501PROP1210025412
When do you allocate properties?
Bidding finishes each Tuesday at 5:30pm. Some properties will be allocated on Wednesday providing the tenant has moved out and returned the keys. If a property is on notice or under repair it may only be allocated once it is ready for letting. The Housing Options Property Shop do not allocate properties, this is done at the Area Housing Offices.
What happens if my bid has been successful?
A member of staff from the Area Housing Office will contact you, usually by telephone, to offer you the property and arrange a viewing. If you decide to take the property we will arrange for you to sign a Tenancy Agreement at the Housing Office. Once you have signed the Tenancy Agreement you can have the keys to your new home.
All new tenancies will be introductory tenancies unless;
- You are already a secure tenant with Wigan Council or another local authority
- You are an assured tenant with a housing association or housing action trust
An Introductory Tenancy is a probationary tenancy which lasts for 12 months. If you do not follow the Conditions of Tenancy it will be easier for the Council to take possession of your home whilst you are an introductory tenant. As long as you do not seriously break any tenancy conditions it will be made into a secure tenancy after twelve months.
Will you let me know if my bid has not been successful?
No. If you do not hear from us then you have not been successful and should continue to bid for properties.
21 What if I need help to bid for properties?
We offer a Home Finder Service to people who have difficulty using our service because of their personal circumstances. To find out more about the scheme and if you qualify, contact the Housing Options Property Shop.
You can also ask someone to bid for properties on your behalf, for example a family member or support worker. Please phone us or write to us if you would like to do this.
22 Can I swap homes with another tenant?
A mutual exchange is when you arrange to swap homes with someone else. You have to be a secure Council tenant or Housing Association tenant to apply and you must have your landlords written permission before you swap.
If you wish to join the mutual exchange register you will need to fill in a short application form. You can get one from the Housing Options Property Shops or any Housing Office.
The details of your property, including photographs, will be put onto the Property Shop website where you, and other people who want to exchange homes can search for a suitable property. If you do not have access to a computer, please visit either of the Housing Options Property Shops or any Housing Office where staff will be happy to help you search for properties.
Please take care when visiting a property you may be interested in. The http://www.suzylamplugh.org/ provides guidance on practical support and personal safety when visiting someone you don’t know.
Frequently Asked Questions
23 I have regular access to my children, can they be included on my housing application?
We can take children into account when assessing your application if you are the main carer and receive child benefit. The only exception to this is when applicants are living in a bedsit with access to children. Additional points will be awarded if this is the case.
Applicants who have access to children but do not have the main caring responsibility can bid for flats with one or more bedrooms but will not be eligible to bid for a house.
24 How long will I have to wait for a home?
It is difficult to say as it depends on:
- The priority you have been awarded on the housing register
- The type and size of property you need
- The area you wish to move to
- The amount of demand from other applicants
For an indication of how long it may take please visit our website for details of recent lettings. (These details will be available early 2011)
25 How many properties can I bid for?
There is no limit on the number of bids you can place each week, however you should check that you meet any property criteria on the advert before bidding on a property.
26 What happens if I refuse an offer?
This would not affect your priority on the housing register with the following two exceptions:
- If you have been awarded medical or welfare priority and you refuse three offers of suitable accommodation without a good reason your priority will be reviewed. This may result in a reduction in the number of points you have been awarded.
- If you are accepted as homeless in accordance with the law and refuse a suitable offer we have no further legal duty to rehouse you. This means you would lose your Group A priority awarded because of homelessness. Your application would then be reassessed and placed in a lower group according to your needs. You have a legal right to ask for a review of this suitability decision. For details of how to do this please contact the Housing Options Advice Centre on 01942 487717.
27 What if a home has a mobility sign on the property advert?
You can still bid for these but we will give priority to people whose needs match the adaptations that are already in the home. We usually also state on our advert what type of adaptation is in the home.
28 What if I have pets?
Small pets such as budgies and goldfish are allowed in all our properties. Larger pets such as cats and dogs are not allowed in some of the homes we advertise. Usually such pets are not allowed in high-storey flats or blocks of flats that do not have private entrance or a garden.
29 What if my circumstances change?
It is your responsibility to tell us immediately if your circumstances change. We need to be sure the information we have is accurate and up to date so we can make sure your application is put in the correct priority group.
Please remember to tell us if you change your telephone number. We need to be able to contact you quickly if you receive an offer of accommodation. If we don’t have your correct contact number you may lose out on a property.
30 What if I change address?
You should fill in a change of address form from the Housing Options Property Shop or any Housing Office. Return it to us so we can re-assess your application and make sure your application is put in the correct priority group.
31 What if I am at risk of losing my home or I am homeless?
You should contact the Housing Options Property Shop and ask for a housing options advice interview. At the interview we will discuss your situation in more detail and refer you to our specialist team if you need more help. We will also discuss what other housing options are available to you to try and help you find accommodation as quickly as possible. For more information about your housing options you can also visit our website propertyshop.walh.co.uk
32 How long will I stay on the housing register?
Once your application has been made active we will write to you each year to see if you still want to be on the housing register. If you don’t reply to the review letter we will cancel your application and you will lose your registration date. If you re-apply at a later date you would need to complete a new application form. Once you have been re-housed, your housing application will be closed.
33 What if I am not happy with a decision made about my application?
You have the right to request a review. For information on how to do this please see page section 36.
34 When are you open?
Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm); Saturday (10am to 4pm); Sunday (Closed). Please note The Property Shops close for staff training every other Wednesday and will open later at 12pm.
35 Other organisations involved in the Housing Scheme
We also let some empty properties owned by Registered Providers formally known as Housing Associations in the borough. These properties are advertised in the same way as Council properties. If you are re-housed by a Registered Providerv you will become a tenant of that Provider and your application will be closed.
With the exception of Arena you can also contact Registered Providers direct, as we do not advertise all of their properties. You will be required to complete an application form with the Housing Association.
35 Partners in the scheme are:
Appeals, Reviews and Complaints
36 Appeal and Reviews
All applicants including existing tenants have the right to appeal against decisions made by Officers of Wigan and Leigh Housing in any part of the application process including;
- If your application is refused
- If your application is pending
- If your application is cancelled
- Your registration date
- The priority group you have been placed into
- Any medical or welfare award
- Any other decision
You must tell us if you want a review within 28 days of the date of the decision or assessment. You can do this by;
- Writing into any of our offices explaining why you think the decision should be reviewed
- Emailing details to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Asking a member of staff at the Housing Options Property Shop to write down the reasons you think the decision should be reviewed. You will then need to sign the statement.
The review will be carried out by a Principal Officer in Wigan and Leigh Housing who was not previously involved in the application or assessment.
We will write to you with the result of the review and reasons for that decision within 20 working days of us receiving all the necessary information.
You may also use Wigan and Leigh Housing’s complaints procedure if you feel;
- Something has been done badly or wrong
- If something has not been done that should have been
- If the service has not been delivered in accordance with the policy and procedures
- If you have been treated in an impolite or discourteous manner
All customers who make a complaint will be treated fairly and objectively and complaints will be responded to within 10 working days.