A NEW scheme supporting private landlords to offer quality, affordable housing and help raise standards in the rental sector is underway across the borough.

Wigan Council has launched an Ethical Lettings Agency (ELA) as part of a Greater Manchester wide scheme.

The ELA sees local authorities working closely with private landlords to manage properties, ensure quality and set affordable rental rates.

Cabinet member for housing and welfare at Wigan Council, Cllr Terry Halliwell, said: “With high levels of demand on our social housing stock and the private rented sector needing support to meet need, this partnership approach will ensure that local people can have access to the affordable, quality homes they deserve.

“Not only do we have a duty to provide homes but we’re also committed to supporting landlords to deliver an attractive offer, which adds to the much-needed supply of rental properties in the borough.”

As part of the ELA, the council will lease properties from private landlords, taking on full management duties and setting rental rates for the lease term.

The scheme guarantees a monthly income to the landlord and makes the council the sole point of contact for the tenant.

The Wigan rollout is part of the GM-wide ELA called "Let Us", which aims to transfer a social landlord ethos, including sustainable tenancies, to the private rented sector.

A target has been set for the Greater Manchester ELA to significantly increase its portfolio of private rented properties over the next two-years, improving access to good quality, well-managed properties in the private sector for those who are homeless or on low-incomes.

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Cllr Halliwell added: “We fully support the Greater Manchester vision and will place a particular focus on acquiring private rented accommodation for single occupancy tenants and families.”

The ELA coincides with Wigan Council’s adoption of a new policy regarding shared houses in Swinley and central Leigh.

It means bids to create new houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in these areas will require planning approval.

The move comes following feedback from the local community concerning a build-up of HMOs in those areas.

Cllr Halliwell said: “The Ethical Lettings Agency, combined with the new approach to HMOs in Swinley and central Leigh will ensure that we can work closely with developers and private landlords to ensure quality, affordable homes for all.”