Private tenants - rights and responsibilities
As a tenant of a private landlord, both you and your landlord or lettings agent, have a number of rights and responsibilities. When living in any rented property, it is important you keep to the rules and don’t break your tenancy agreement. This page will give you advice on what you and your landlord must do.
If you moved in on or after 1 December 2017 you will have a Private Residential Tenancy, unless you are sharing a living space with your landlord.
Your tenancy will be open-ended, which means it does not have an end date. Your landlord cannot include an expected end date or minimum period in your tenancy agreement.
At the start of your tenancy your landlord must give you a written copy of your tenancy agreement. This is an important document and you should keep it safe. You and your landlord can agree to ‘sign’ the agreement by typing your names in the electronic document and sending it by email. If you do not want to do this you may choose to sign a paper copy of the agreement instead.
Your landlord or letting agent must also give you copies of the following information:
- A set of notes explaining the terms of your tenancy, rights and responsibilities,
- Copies the Gas Safety and Electrical Test certificates.
- A copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (this must be attached to the property)
Paying rent and deposit
If you were asked to pay a deposit your landlord or letting agent must lodge it with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 30 days of the tenancy starting. They must provide you with confirmation of this. If your landlord has not paid the deposit into a scheme within 30 days you may take them to the First-tier Tribunal.
You should make sure the tenancy agreement states the reasons why the landlord can take money off your deposit.
Your tenancy agreement will tell you how much your rent is and how often it should be paid. This will normally be monthly, in advance. The easiest way to pay your rent is by setting up a standing order. If you agree to pay in cash make sure you are given a receipt each time.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to claim some help towards your rent. Normally in the form of Universal Credit or if you have reached retirement 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.
If you are struggling to pay your rent or in arrears do not ignore the situation. Getting help and advice early can stop you losing your home. Contact our Housing Options Team or an organisation such as Citizens Advice Scotland or National Debtline for free help and advice on your situation.
Your landlord can only increase your rent once in a 12-month period, and must give you at least three months’ notice that they are going to do this. If you think an increase is unreasonable, you can ask an officer from Rent Service Scotland to independently review this.
In addition to your rent you will need to set up accounts to pay for utilities and other services including:
- Your electricity supply
- Your gas supply (if you have one)
- Water and Sewerage
- Council Tax
- Contents insurance
Looking after the property
As a tenant you must:
- Keep the property, including fittings clean
- Keep the property adequately ventilated, and heated.
- Not tamper with any smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
- Prevent water pipes from freezing in cold weather.
- Promptly tell your landlord if any repairs are needed.
- Tell your landlord if you are going away for more than 2 weeks.
Your landlord needs to ensure repairs and maintenance is carried out promptly. You must give reasonable access so your landlord can:
- Carry out work when they need to or are allowed to
- For an annual Gas Safety inspection, or other safety checks to be completed.
- Inspect the property to see if any work is needed
- Carry out a valuation of the property
Unless it is an urgent repair your landlord should always give you 48 hours’ notice that they need to enter the property.
Your landlord should not enter the property without your permission, except in an emergency.
Other people living with you
Unless your landlord agrees in writing you must not:
- Sublet the property (rent it out to someone else)
- Have a lodger move in with you
- Give your tenancy to someone else
You must tell your landlord, in writing, if anyone else is living in the property with you including,
- Anyone over the age of 16
- A partner who is not a joint tenant
- Anyone else living in the property as their only or main home.
You also have to let them know if they move out.
Most disputes between landlords and tenants can be resolved by talking about the problem to reach an agreement. The Scottish Government provide additional information for tenants who cannot resolve disputes in this way.