A Guide for Private Tenants

The information on this page is based on our leaflet A Guide for Private Tenants (PDF)

If you rent your home from a private landlord (or someone acting on behalf of a landlord), or are considering private renting, it is important to know what your rights and responsibilities are in relation to your accommodation, and where to go for advice.  

Renting a property creates a legal relationship between you and the landlord.  This means that you both have a number of rights and certain responsibilities or duties.  This page provides a general guide to assured tenancies.  If you are not sure about your position or have a dispute with your landlord, you should get advice from Citizens Advice, Shelter , our Housing Options Team or find a solicitor in Yellow pages .

The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 is expected to take effect from December 2017. The Act will introduce a new type of tenancy that will be known as a 'private residential tenancy'. For more information you can either visit the Scottish Government web page or download a copy of Private residential tenancies: information for tenants (PDF).

Finding private rented accommodation

There are number of private rented properties, including furnished and unfurnished bedsits, flats and family-sized houses available to rent in Moray.

To find accommodation you should:

Rented properties are not always advertised, so you should ask around and make it known that you are looking for accommodation.  Remember that any reference you can supply to a potential landlord may help (for example, a letter from your employer or a previous landlord stating that you were a good tenant).

Landlord Registration

By law, private landlords must register with the local authority where the rental property is located.  This is a public register, which you can check online here .  We only register landlords who we think are ‘fit and proper’  to let residential property.  For tenants, registration provides an assurance that your home will be properly managed.  

Before you enter into a lease agreement with a landlord, you should be satisfied that the property has been registered.  To report an unregistered landlord, contact us on 0300 1234566.

Renting from a resident landlord

If your landlord lives with you in the property and this is their only or main home then it is likely that they are a resident landlord .  There must also be direct access (such as a doorway) between your part of the house and the landlords.  If you have a resident landlord, you do not have the same rights as a tenant whose landlord does not stay in the same property however you will have some rights.  For example, your landlord will usually have to give you a written Notice to Quit when they want you to leave and you will be protected against harassment and being evicted illegally.  

In most cases, your landlord would need a court order to remove you from the property.  However if you share living accommodation with your landlord, they may not need a court order.  

In most resident landlord tenancies, your landlord can only change your rent if you and your landlord agree to the new amount.  If your tenancy began before 2 January 1989, you and your landlord have the right to an independent rent assessment to decide on the level of rent you should pay.

The law relating to renting from a resident landlord is very complicated and will depend on the circumstances of each case.  You should contact Citizens Advice, Shelter , our Housing Options Team or find a solicitor . if you have any disputes with your resident landlord.

Your rights and responsibilities

Before you move into the property, your landlord must give you a Tenant Information Pack (revised 1 December 2016) and a written tenancy agreement.  However, this will be different if you have a resident landlord.  

A tenancy agreement should contain:

  • the names of the landlord and the tenant;
  • the address of the rental property;
  • how long the tenancy is for; 
  • the amount of rent, when and how it is to be paid and how any rent increases will be worked out; and
  • who is responsible for decorating the inside of your property and who is responsible for any maintenance and repairs inside and outside.

Your landlord cannot legally put any clauses in your tenancy agreement that limit or exclude rights given to you by law.

If you do not have a tenancy agreement, or the one you have does not fairly reflect the terms of the tenancy, you can apply to the Sheriff Court to have one drawn up or to have the existing one adjusted.

As the tenant you have the right to:

  • know the terms of the tenancy;
  • know the name and address of your landlord;
  • a decent standard of repair;
  • proper legal notice if your landlord wants you to move out; and
  • 'quiet enjoyment' while staying in the property.  (This means you have the right to live in your home without interference from your landlord).

You are responsible for making sure the fixtures, fittings, furniture and contents are not damaged as a result of you or anyone living with or visiting you acting carelessly.  You also should allow access to the property for repairs.

Fees, premiums or extra charges

The Scottish Government has made clear that it is illegal for landlords and letting agents to charge for anything over and above rent and a deposit.  This means that you must not be charged extra for things like credit checks or reference checks.

Repairs and the Repairing Standard

Under the Repairing Standard, your landlord must make sure that:

  • The property is water tight and protected from the wind, and reasonably fit for people to live in;
  • The structure and outside of the property (including drains, gutters and outside pipes) are in reasonable repair and proper working order.
  • The systems in the property for supplying water, gas  and electricity, for heating and for getting rid of waste water are in reasonable repair and proper working order (including systems outside the house but serving it, and which the owner is responsible for maintaining, either individually or jointly);
  • Any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided under the tenancy are in reasonable repair and proper working order;
  • Any furnishings provided under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose they were designed for; and
  • The house has satisfactory provision for detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of fire or suspected fire. (guidance on smoke alarms)
  • The house has satisfactory provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health

Housing and Property Chamber (First-tier Tribunal for Scotland)

The Housing and Property Chamber can help if your landlord has not met their responsibilities under the Repairing Standard.  You can apply to the panel if you have tried to settle the matter with your landlord and feel that they have failed to meet their duties.

The Housing (Scotland) Act 2014 amended the Repairing Standard legislation to allow a Third Party (specifically the Local Authority) to make applications in the same manner as the tenant. The Local Authority must take the same notification action as a tenant prior to making the application.  A phased approach is being taken to the implementation of third party applications.  Moray is in phase 2 with a commencement date of 1 April 2016.

You will find full information on the Housing and Property Chamber website
 

Gas and electrical safety

Landlords must carry out a gas and electrical installation check before a tenant moves into the property and then arrange for checks each year.

Your landlord must give you a copy of the gas safety certificate that has been issued by the Gas Safe  registered engineer.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

By law, your landlord has to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which can be found on the GOV.UK website  in the property.  This is a document which explains how energy efficient a property is. An EPC will help you to compare properties and work out which will have lower energy bills.

Furnished accommodation

If the property is furnished, your landlord must make sure that any furniture and furnishings supplied are safe.  For example your landlord must:

Deposits

Your landlord may ask you for a deposit as security against things like unpaid utility bills or rent arrears.  It could also cover loss or damage to the property and its contents (but not fair wear and tear).  A deposit is usually the same as one months rent but it should not exceed two months rent.  To avoid a dispute with your landlord, you should both fill in and sign an inventory.  An inventory records the contents and their condition before a tenant moved in.  

Under the Tenancy Deposit Schemes (Scotland) Regulations 2011  private landlords have to pay deposits into a scheme.  The scheme will protect you from landlords who unfairly withhold deposits and make sure that disputes are handled fairly.  

Housemate app

Shelter Scotland have developed an iphone app called 'Housemate'  to help protect your deposit.  You can use the app to take an inventory before your tenancy starts.  It will keep a record of the property details, for example whether it's furnished or unfurnished, the rent and deposit amount and gas and electricity readings.  It will also let you keep photographs of the property before you moved in.

Moray Keyfund rent deposit guarantee scheme

We run a rent deposit guarantee scheme to help people on low incomes access private rented housing.  To find out more about the scheme, see our page ‘Moray Keyfund Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme’ or contact our Housing Options Team to find out if you are eligible.

Rent Allowance and Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

If you are on a low income or benefits, you may be entitled to help with paying your rent.  Before you sign your tenancy agreement, you should contact the Revenues Office to find out how much LHA you may be entitled to.

Council Tax

Unless your are going to be living in a ‘house of multiple occupation’ (see next section) then you will usually be responsible for paying Council Tax, however sometimes this cost may be included in your rent.  If you need more information on Council Tax contact our Revenues Section.

Renting shared housing

If you are considering renting a property which you will be sharing with more than one other household, you must ask the landlord whether they are licensed as having a ‘house of multiple occupation’ (HMO).  Ask to see the licence certificate and make sure it is up to date.  It is in your interest not to accept shared accommodation from an owner who is not licensed.  Check with Citizens Advice or our Environmental Health Service if you need more information.

Disabled adaptations

You should get your landlord’s permission before adapting your home, however your landlord cannot unreasonably withhold permission.  You may be eligible for help through the Scottish Welfare Fund,  if it will assist independent living and prevent the need for institutional care.  Find out more about the eligibility criteria.You may also find the information in our leaflet ‘Housing Options for People with Disabilities’ helpful.  

Housing support

If you need extra support (such as home care) so you can live independently for as long as possible in your own home, you should contact your local community care team for more information.

Notice to end a tenancy and take possession of the property

If you are asked to leave your accommodation, you have received a Notice to Quit from your landlord, or your landlord tells you that they have begun court proceedings for possession of the property, you should not move without speaking to Citizens Advice, Shelter , our Housing Options Team or a solicitor

Protection against harassment and unlawful eviction

A landlord must do the following before they take possession of the property: 

  • serve you with a valid Notice to Quit;
  • serve you with a Notice of Proceedings, which says that they have begun proceedings to take possession of the property; and
  • get an order for possession from the Sheriff Court.

If your landlord fails to get a court order and tries to evict you from your home, he or she may be committing a criminal offence.  Similarly, if they try to make you leave by intimidation, violence, withholding services such as gas or electricity or any other sort of interference, this is also illegal and you should contact the Police .You should contact Citizens Advice, Shelter , our Housing Options Team or a solicitor  for more details on your rights and responsibilities if you are at risk of losing your home.

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Housing and Property

housing@moray.gov.uk

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