Knowing your rental rights

landlord and tenant

These days, owning your own home is the holy grail of the property market – but unfortunately, this isn’t a feasible option for everyone. Buying your own property is becoming more and more expensive, with property prices recently reaching all-time highs – so renting presents an opportunity to have your own space, whilst saving up at the same time.

Although there are limitations with renting, like decorating and DIY, there are big advantages, like flexibility. Knowing you can pick and choose where you rent, it can be less hassle to move, you can test out different areas to live in for short times, and the biggie, less maintenance costs as these are covered by your landlord.

But as a renter, it’s important that you know your rights and take a closer look at the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into force in 2017.

Firstly, there are two types of private tenancy: private residential tenant which means you are renting your home from a private landlord or a letting agency, whereas common law tenant is where you have a resident landlord, you are a student or live in accommodation provided by your employer etc.

As a private residential tenant, which is the most common, especially for those searching on, you have a right to a tenancy agreement from the day your tenancy starts. This should outline all the statutory terms between you and the landlord or agency:

  • The tenant’s and landlord/letting agent’s contact details
  • The address and details of the rented property
  • The start date of the tenancy
  • How much the rent is and how it can be increased
  • How much the deposit is and information about how it will be registered
  • Who is responsible for insuring the property
  • The tenant has to inform the landlord when they are going to be absent from the property for more than 14 days
  • The tenant will take reasonable care of the property
  • The condition that the landlord must make sure the property is in, including the repairing standard
  • That the tenant must inform the landlord of the need for any repairs
  • That the tenant will give reasonable access to the property when the landlord has given at least 48 hours notice
  • The process that the tenancy can be brought to an end

Length of tenancy

Due to the changes brought on by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, private residential tenancies are open-ended and have no set length as in previous years, such as 6- or 12-month leases. This means your landlord can’t ask you to leave after a certain amount of time, but your agreement can still come to an end either by you leaving or the landlord ending the lease, if they are selling for example. But depending on who is ending the lease, they will need to give the other party 28 days’ notice of doing so.

Ending a lease during Coronavirus

The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 is an emergency law to protect renters in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic. The law protects tenants from eviction, where a landlord issues notice on or after 7 April 2020. Before a landlord can start legal proceedings to evict, they must give the tenant notice. In most cases, the temporary law means landlords must give you at least 6 months’ notice to end a tenancy. There is also a ban on eviction orders in Scotland if you live in an area under protection level 3 or 4.

Rent increases

If you have a private residential tenancy, your landlord can only increase your rent once per year and has to give you 3 months’ notice before they do. They also must do this officially in writing and use the correct form known as the ‘landlord’s rent increase notice to tenants’. If you feel that your rent is unfair, as a private residential tenant you can appeal this to a Rent Officer via the website.

Landlord access

As part of your tenancy agreement with your landlord or private agency, you agree to allow them access to the property to carry out repairs, inspections or valuations of the property. To do so, your landlord must give you 48 hours’ notice unless the access required is for emergency or urgent repairs. Your landlord is responsible for making sure that the property is kept to a safe and legal standard in accordance with the Housing Scotland Act 2006 which includes ensuring it is wind and watertight.

Getting work carried out

If the property requires any repairs, then you need to speak to your landlord or the agency directly and as soon as you notice that work needs to be done.

For non-essential work, like if you’d like to decorate or install broadband then you will also need to seek permission from your landlord. Some tenancy agreements will include a clause telling you whether you can carry out this kind of work. However, you should always speak to your landlord beforehand.

For all the latest regulations and legalities with renting in Scotland, visit


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