Private renting - getting started
Benefits of private renting
Private rented accommodation is available in most parts of Midlothian, from the larger towns to more rural villages. Many people find renting a property privately has a variety of benefits. These may include:
- Being able to stay in the community of your choice
- Finding a home more quickly, especially in areas with limited Council Housing
- Properties may be fully or partially furnished.
Where to find a private let
There are several ways to look for properties available to rent including:
- Internet websites – search for rented accommodation, lettings agents, private rented, or flats to rent in Midlothian.
- Social media
- Contacting a local lettings agent by phone or email.
- By word of mouth – asking family, friends work colleagues if they know of properties to rent.
- In the local community – shop windows or community notice boards.
You can get free internet access at your local library.
Once you find a property you are interested in, contact the landlord/agent to arrange a viewing.
When viewing a property it is important to keep yourself safe. Always make sure you let someone know where you are going. Take a mobile phone and ring a friend/relative when you get there, and when you are leaving.
Our private rented checklist can help to make sure you choose a property that is right for you, and ask the correct questions at a viewing.
What type of tenancy agreement will I have
Any tenancy started after 1 December 2017 is a private residential tenancy. These new tenancies include several improvements for tenants including:
- No more fixed term tenancies – Meaning a landlord cannot ask you to leave just because you have lived in the property for a certain amount of time.
- Limited rent increases – Your rent can only be increased once every 12 months (with three months’ notice). You can also request an independent review if you think the increase is unfair.
- Longer notice periods – If you have lived in the property for longer than six months your landlord will have to give you at least 84 days’ notice to leave (unless you have broken a term of the tenancy).
- Model tenancy agreements – The Scottish Government have published a model private residential tenancy agreement for landlords to use.
Our private tenants: rights and responsibilities page gives more detailed information on Private Residential Tenancy agreements.
There are many types of private landlord in Midlothian, ranging from lettings agencies to individual owners. In Scotland all landlords and agencies must be registered with their local council.
When advertising a private rented tenancy, landlords must include their landlord registration number. The Scottish Landlord Register provides a free search function so you can check if a landlord, or agent is registered.
Most landlords will ask you to pay a deposit at the start of your tenancy. This will normally be the value of one month’s rent, although landlords are allowed to ask for up to two months.
The deposit is security against things like damage to the property or unpaid charges at the end of the tenancy. Landlords are legally required to arrange for your deposit to be held in an approved tenancy deposit scheme for the duration of the tenancy.
In Scotland it is against the law for any landlord or lettings agent to charge or ask for any other fees e.g. to register with them, administrative work, credit/reference checking.
Rent levels are similar across Midlothian and vary by property size rather than location. Rent is usually paid monthly, in advance. It is important to make sure you can afford the rent before moving in.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim some help towards your rent. Normally in the form of Universal Credit, or for those who have reached state pension age Housing Benefit from the Council.
A benefits calculator such as entitledto or Turn2us can help you find out what help you may get. These are anonymous and free to use.
Sharing a property with others can often offer a quick, affordable solution for some people.
In a shared property you will each have your own bedroom but share the rest of the property with other residents. Your rent will often be lower, and you only pay your part of the other bills, making it more affordable than living by yourself. You can either find a room to let in a house or flat where others are already sharing, or get a group of friends together and find a property for you all.
Some homeowners choose to rent out a room in their home to a lodger. The benefits of this are usually the same as sharing with friends. If you share any part of the property with the owner your tenancy rights will be slightly different.
The following websites can be used to find properties to rent. This is provided for information only and should not be seen as a recommendation or endorsement.