Why is this important?
Common problems with renting
This information applies to Scotland only
This item describes problems you may have when renting from a private landlord. You may rent a property from a private landlord when you are a student and the information on this page should be helpful. If you are a student and renting accommodation owned by or rented out directly to you by the educational establishment the problems you may have are likely to be different and the rules about how to solve them are also different. For more information see Student Housing.
Table of contents
- The tenancy agreement
- Paying a deposit
- Safety of appliances
- How to find out who the private landlord is
- The landlord’s rights of entry
- The landlord harasses you
- The landlord charges for energy
- Landlord registration
- Lodgers and subtenants
- Flatmates and housesharers
- Paying the rent and council tax
- Television licences
- Energy bills
- Using the home for business purposes
- Keeping pets
- Facing eviction
- Notice to end the tenancy
- Getting your deposit back at the end of a tenancy
- Property left in the house after you leave
- Passing the tenancy on to someone else
The tenancy agreement
A legal contract exists between a landlord and a tenant whether or not anything is written down.
A verbal agreement may simply be based on the conversation the landlord and tenant had when they originally agreed on the terms of the letting. A verbal contract may, however, be difficult to enforce, especially if there were no witnesses to the agreement.
If your tenancy started after 1 May 2013 your landlord or lettings agency should have given you a tenant information pack before the start of your tenancy. The pack has information in it about your rights and responsiblities and the rights and responsibilities of your landlord. Visit the Scottish Government's website at www.scotland.gov.uk to find out more about tenant information packs.
If you are a tenant and you are having a problem either enforcing the terms of the agreement, for example, getting a repair done, or being required by the landlord to agree to something different from the original tenancy agreement, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Landlord fails to provide information that might have affected the tenant's decision to take on the tenancy
A landlord can be guilty of breaching consumer protection rules if vital information about the property is not disclosed to the prospective tenant. The types of omissions are, for example, outside noise from being under a flight path, close proximity to a noisy footpath or disturbances from neighbours that are known about. The landlord may also be breaching the consumer protection legislation if any of the facilities in the property are not as they were described.
If a tenant chooses to give up the tenancy because of these problems the landlord should not retain any money for ending the tenancy early. The landlord may be in breach of the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Paying a deposit
A private landlord or letting agency might ask for a deposit before you have signed a tenancy agreement. It is sometimes called 'key money' or a 'holding deposit'. If the landlord does not refund this deposit at the start of the tenancy or if you decide not to take the tenancy it becomes an illegal fee. If the landlord suggests to turn it into a tenancy deposit then you might find that acceptable.
You can ask the landlord to repay these fees up to 5 years after the tenancy has ended and if the landlord refuses you can ask the court to take action using the small claims procedure.
Any fees charged by the landlord to create or renew a tenancy are illegal. Find out more about how to reclaim illegal fees using the online toolkit on the Shelter Scotland website at www.reclaimyour fees.com.
A tenancy deposit is a sum of money a tenant pays to a landlord (or letting agency acting on a landlord’s behalf) as security against, for example, rent arrears, damage to property, or removal of furniture by the tenant. A deposit must not be more than two months' rent.
All private landlords are required by law to put tenancy deposits into an approved tenancy deposit scheme.
When a deposit is paid into a scheme it is protected and there is a dispute resolution service available if there is a dispute at the end of the tenancy about how the deposit should be paid back.
For more information about tenancy deposits and tenancy deposit schemes visit the Shelter Scotland website at htp://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If you pay a deposit you should check the inventory of contents of the property you are renting (and the condition of the property and contents) before signing it. You may be held responsible for any discrepancies or damage and may forfeit some or all of your deposit when the tenancy ends. The inventory will be used as evidence if a dispute about the return of the tenancy deposit is referred to a dispute resolution service at the end of the tenancy.
A clause in the tenancy agreement covering the deposit may be challengeable because it is unfair, for example, a clause which does not allow for fair wear and tear.
If the accommodation is let furnished, the inventory is a list of the furniture and other contents which have been provided by the landlord. It is advisable for both you and the landlord that there is an inventory, since it reduces the probability of a dispute over whether there are missing or damaged items.
The landlord normally draws up an inventory. It should list everything, with a good description of the items, including their age if antique or new, and their condition.
If you are visually impaired, you can ask your landlord to provide an inventory in a different format, for example on an audio tape or in Braille. Your landlord may be discriminating against you if they refuse to do this.
You should check that you agree with the inventory before you sign and date it. It is good practice for the landlord to give you a copy.
If the landlord does not draw up and agree an inventory, you can draw up one as soon as you move into the accommodation, take photographs if you can and get it witnessed (signed and dated) by an independent witness, that is, someone who is not a relative or close friend.
If you have an iPhone Shelter Scotland have created a free App called Housemate which could help you to create a digital record of the condition of the property and its contents. It can be found on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
Condition of furniture
If accommodation is let furnished, private landlords have a legal duty to provide furniture of a certain standard. They must ensure that the furniture is safe and is capable of being used for the purpose for which it was designed. This does not apply to landlords of agricultural tenancies, crofting tenancies or tenancies of mobile homes. If your landlord has a duty to provide safe, usable furniture and does not do so, despite having been told about any problems, you can complain to the Private Rented Housing Panel.
- More about the Scottish Government guide to resolving disputes relating to repairs for private tenants
Furniture fire safety
From 1 January 1997, furniture supplied by the landlord must be fire resistant. The only exception is furniture made before 1950.
All upholstered furniture sold after 1 September 1990 should meet the fire safety regulations, and carry a label to say so. The labels should be permanently attached to a hidden part of the item. If you find such a label on a piece of furniture, you can be satisfied that the furniture meets the safety regulations. If a piece of furniture does not carry a label saying that it meets the regulations, it is likely that the item does not meet the regulations.
If you are a tenant and concerned about furniture fire safety, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Safety of appliances
A landlord has responsibility to ensure that any electrical appliances supplied with the accommodation are safe. This includes heaters, cookers, kettles, and any other electrical goods.
If you are a tenant and you are concerned that an electrical appliance is not safe, you should contact Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
If a landlord wants to be sure that electrical appliances meet the regulations, s/he can arrange for an electrician to test each appliance and make a detailed report. The cost of a report will vary according to the size of the house.
A landlord must ensure that any gas fittings in the premises are safe. There may need to be a carbon monoxide alarm fitted.
Landlords must ensure that any 'relevant gas fitting', including any flue which serves the fitting, is maintained in a safe condition. 'Relevant gas fitting' includes gas appliances (except your own appliances) and pipework in the premises, and appliances/pipework which serve the premises if the landlord owns them or has control over them.
The landlord must arrange and pay for safety checks and any necessary work to be carried out on appliances at least once every 12 months. The safety checks must be carried out by someone who is registered with Gas Safe Register. Their website is www.gassaferegister.co.uk. The landlord must also keep a record of inspection dates, any defects identified and any remedial action taken. The landlord must give a copy of this record to you.
If the landlord does not carry out regular inspections of gas appliances or if s/he refuses to give you a copy of the inspection record, you could contact the local office of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has a duty to enforce the safety requirements.
There are gas safety Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for tenants on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk. The HSE also operates a Gas Safety Advice Line 0800 300 363.
Carbon monoxide alarms
From 1 October 2013, a carbon monoxide alarm must be fitted when a new or replacement boiler or other heating appliance is installed in a building with bedrooms. This is not only for gas appliances. Solid fuel, oil or gas appliances have the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning if they are poorly installed, inadequately maintained or incorrectly used.
A property which is registered as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) must have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted in a room where there is a gas appliance.
How to find out who the private landlord is
If you do not know the identity of your landlord, you can find out either by:-
- writing to the letting agent, asking for the landlord’s full name and address, or
- looking up the landlord's registration online.
As a tenant you have a legal right to know who your landlord is. If your landlord is not registered this is a criminal offence.
To find out who your landlord is if they are not registered you should use the contact details provided in the Tenant Information Pack that should have been provided in tenancies that started after May 2013.
If you write requesting this information, you should send this letter by recorded delivery and keep a copy. If the letting agent or other person whose contact details you were given does not reply within 21 days, this is a criminal offence.
If your tenancy started before May 2013 but you don't know who the landlord is and cannot find out from the register of landlords you should send a recorded delivery letter to the person or organisation who last received the rent. When this is a bank you should address the letter to the manager of the branch which received the money asking for the name and contact details for the landlord. You can ask for this by law (endnote 1).
If you need to find out the landlord’s identity because of an emergency, such as a burst pipe, it may be quicker to inform the local authority because it has special powers to enter and carry out emergency repairs. It can then take steps to find out who the landlord is to recover its costs.
The landlord’s rights of entry
A landlord has a right to reasonable access to carry out repairs. The landlord also has a right to enter the property to inspect the state of repair, provided you are given at least 24 hours written notice.
What 'reasonable access' means depends on why the landlord needs to get access. For example, in an emergency the landlord is entitled to immediate access to carry out necessary work.
If you are staying in lodgings, the landlord can only enter your space with your permission. The landlord does have the right to enter to carry out repairs but only with reasonable notice.
A landlord does not have a right to enter in any other circumstances unless s/he has a court order.
The landlord harasses you
If the landlord does anything which s/he knows is likely to make you leave the house or stop you exercising your legal rights, this is an offence. This includes, for example, repeatedly disturbing you late at night or obstructing access to the house, creating noise, disconnecting supplies of water, gas or electricity where the landlord knows that this is likely to intimidate you.
If you are subjected to harassment, the matter should be reported to the police. However, in practice, it can be difficult to obtain protection from threats or violence.
It is against the law for a landlord to harass you because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity rights, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or belief. Harassment can include both actions and language that you find offensive.
I'm a woman living on my own in a private rented flat. The landlord has kept the keys and keeps coming round. He says it's to check on the property but really he just makes suggestive comments to me. I don't know what to do. I don't want to say he can't come into the flat in case he evicts me.
Your landlord doesn't have the right to treat you like this. This is likely to be sex discrimination. And although he has the right to keep a set of keys, he doesn't have the right to come into your flat whenever he feels like it. You need to see an experienced adviser who will help you deal with this landlord.
If you are a tenant and are being harassed by a landlord you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
The landlord charges for energy
There are legal restrictions on the amount a landlord can charge for energy. This applies whether or not the energy is supplied through a pre-payment meter.
If a pre-payment meter is set to charge above the legal limits, you are entitled to a rebate when it is emptied.
If you pay the landlord each time a bill is received and you think the amount is too high, s/he should ask to see the bill before paying it.
If energy is paid for along with the rent, you should check whether there is a written tenancy agreement which specifies how this is assessed. If you have a regulated tenancy and the rent is registered with the Rent Officer, the amount for energy may be specified and this cannot be changed without the agreement of the Rent Officer.
For details of the maximum a landlord can charge for gas and electricity, consult the energy supplier.
All landlords of private tenancies have to be registered with their local authority. This is to ensure their details have been checked and they are a 'fit and proper' person to let property. If your landlord has not registered s/he is committing an offence unless there is an exemption on the property.
How to find out if your landlord is registered
To find out if your landlord is registered, you can either search for the property by address at www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk or contact your local authority’s registration department and ask them to do a search.
Lodgers and subtenants
A lodger is a person who lives with you, is provided with meals and services (such as cleaning, provision of linen etc), and who does not have her/his own separate accommodation. A subtenant does have her/his own separate accommodation and will not normally be provided with meals or services.
Some private tenants with unfurnished tenancies have the right to take in lodgers without the landlord’s permission, but a tenant should seek the help of an experienced adviser before doing this.
All local authority tenants and tenants of a registered social landlord have to get the landlord’s permission to sublet part of their accommodation to subtenants, but the landlord cannot refuse unreasonably. Subletting all of the accommodation can be a ground for possession.
In other cases, the right to sublet depends on the tenancy agreement. All private tenants should seek the landlord’s permission before subletting unless the tenancy agreement specifically allows this. There is no appeal against a private landlord’s refusal to allow subletting.
If you sublet part of your home to someone else you will be their landlord and will be the head tenant in any dealing with your landlord. You will still be reponsible for paying the rent to the landlord and you will have responsibility for any tenancy issues which arise, for example if you want the subtenant to leave.
If you are a subtenant your rights will depend on what type of tenancy your landlord has. You can check your rights on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If you are a tenant and want to sublet or take in lodgers, or a subtenant, or if a landlord is trying to evict you for subletting or taking in lodgers, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Flatmates and housesharers
As it is usually cheaper to share a property many people live with flatmates or housesharers who may be strangers at the start of the rental period. It can be very stressful to share facilities and make financial contracts with people you don’t know. It can also become very upsetting if you have problems with people not paying bills and/or cleaning up.
Some problems can only be resolved by checking the legal position you are in, for example, who is the tenant or joint tenant or whose name is on the gas and electricity bill. Your rights are explained in a helpful section of the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If you live in a property which you share with the person who owns it or rents it by themselves and who uses it as their main home, you have a resident landlord. You can check what rights you have at the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
You should also check if the property you are living in is regulated by specific rules because, for example it is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). A landlord who rents out an HMO must be registered as a private landlord and have an HMO licence issued by the local authority.
There are penalties of up to £20,000 for landlords who operate an HMO without a licence and up to £50,000 for landlords who are not registered with the local authority.
If two people of the opposite sex have to sleep in the same room, the accommodation will be overcrowded unless the two people are:-
- a married couple, in a civil partnership or a couple who are living together
- under ten years old.
The number of people of the same sex, not living as a couple, who can sleep in one room, is restricted by the size of the room.
A home is also overcrowded if there are more than the 'permitted number' of people living there (the 'permitted number' will depend on the size of the accommodation. The figure should be shown in the tenant's rent book).
The local authority can, in certain circumstances, prosecute both the landlord and the occupier of an overcrowded dwelling. There is more information about overcrowding on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
What action you can take
If you are in privately rented accommodation and you are on the local authority housing waiting list, you should inform the housing department that you are living in overcrowded accommodation. If you are not on the housing waiting list you should apply to go on it. If you are living in local authority or registered social landlord accommodation, you should inform the housing department of your situation and ask for a transfer.
If you are a tenant and think your home is overcrowded you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
The landlord’s obligations to carry out repairs
What repairs the landlord is responsible for will depend on the type of tenancy.
- More about repairs and renting from a public sector landlord
- More about renting from a private landlord
- More about getting repairs done while renting
As the tenant, you damage the property
The landlord is usually responsible for external and major structural repairs to the building. You, as the tenant, are usually responsible for internal decoration and for making sure that fixtures, fittings, furniture and other contents are not damaged because of your negligence.
You will not usually be responsible for making good any damage caused by 'fair wear and tear'. Exactly what you are responsible for will normally be described in the tenancy agreement.
If you live in privately rented accommodation and your landlord claims that you have damaged the property s/he will normally keep all or part of the deposit to cover the cost of the damage (see under heading Paying a deposit).
If you are having problems with the recovery of a deposit or if the landlord keeps all or part of it and you dispute this, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
You are asked to move out for repairs to the property
The landlord has the right to reasonable access to the house to carry out repairs.
If the landlord wants to carry out improvements, s/he must get either your permission to enter the house and do the works, or a court order authorising her/him to take possession of the house. This also applies if the repairs are so extensive that they cannot be done unless you move out. The landlord must usually provide alternative accommodation for you, but if you do not want to move, the landlord has the power, in some circumstances, to apply to the court to repossess the property. There is information about your rights when repairs are being carried out on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If the landlord wants you to leave so that improvements or repairs can be done, you should not agree to this until you have obtained independent advice on your rights, for example by consulting a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Repair of appliances
Private landlords must ensure that appliances and installations for the supply of water, sanitation, heating, gas and electricity are in reasonable repair and proper working order. This does not apply to landlords of agricultural tenancies, crofting tenancies, and tenancies of mobile homes. If you have a private landlord who has a duty to keep the installations in good repair, and they do not do so, you can complain to the Private Rented Housing Panel.
Paying the rent and council tax
If you have difficulty in paying your rent and/or council tax because you have a low income, you may be eligible for housing benefit and/or help with your council tax.
- More about paying off your rent arrears
- More about what to do if you are taken to court for rent arrears
- More about getting housing benefit to help with your rent
- More about Council Tax Reduction
If there is a television set, DVD or video recorder to be used with a television in the accommodation, you are responsible for obtaining a television licence, unless your landlord installed the set. However, even if your landlord supplies the set, you should check that a licence exists by contacting the National TV Licence Records Office. If there is no licence, you could be liable for prosecution because you use the TV.
There may be an arrangement where you pay the landlord for energy (either in the rent, through a coin-meter or separately) and the landlord pays the energy supplier’s bills.
If the landlord does not pass the money on to the energy supplier, the supply may be cut off. If your supply is threatened for this reason, you can ask the energy supplier to put the supply into your name. You will then receive the bills and will no longer have to pay money to the landlord for energy. This will only be possible if you have a separate meter. If several tenants are supplied through the same meter, the supplier may only agree to this if one of them accepts full responsibility for the bills.
If there are several tenants sharing the accommodation and the energy supply is disconnected, the local authority may be willing to use its powers to get the energy reconnected. The local authority is not obliged to use these powers, but if it is reluctant to do so, a local councillor may be willing to help.
If you cannot get a supply put in your own name, the help of an experienced adviser must be sought before any further action is taken. In some cases, the landlord may retaliate by threatening to evict you and you should find out what legal protection you have first. In all cases you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Using the home for business purposes
If you use the whole of the property which you rented to be your home for business purposes and no longer live there, you will lose any security of tenure you had and could be evicted by the landlord.
You can use part of the house for business purposes as long as it is not specifically forbidden in the tenancy agreement and it does not cause a nuisance to neighbours. Even if a tenancy agreement forbids use of part of the house for business purposes it can be difficult for a landlord to enforce this condition. If you are a private tenant, you should not, however, use the house for business purposes without the landlord’s permission because, even if you have a legal right to do so, the landlord may be able to find some other reason for evicting you, if s/he does not approve.
You may also require permission from the local authority to carry on a business, for example, there may be the need to obtain planning permission, or a special licence, depending on the activity. The business use could also lead to part of the house being assessed for business rates.
If you are a tenant and threatened with eviction because you have used the house for business purposes, you may be able to defend the eviction, depending on what kind of tenancy you have. You should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
You can keep pets as long as it is not specifically forbidden in your tenancy agreement and it does not cause a nuisance to neighbours. Even if a tenancy agreement forbids the keeping of pets, it can be difficult for a landlord to enforce this condition. However, if you are a private tenant you should normally seek the landlord’s permission because, even if you have a legal right to keep pets, the landlord may be able to find some other reason for evicting you if s/he does not approve.
If you are threatened with eviction because you are keeping pets, you may be able to defend this even if it is in breach of the tenancy agreement. This depends on what kind of tenancy you have. For example, if the landlord shares the house with you, you will not be able to prevent the eviction, although you may be able to delay it.
If you are a tenant and keeping pets when this is forbidden by the tenancy agreement, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
If there's a term in your tenancy agreement which bans pets, you can ask your landlord to change it to allow you to have an assistance dog.
Your landlord must agree to do this if you are disabled and you need an assistance dog to be able to live in the property. This is known as making a 'reasonable adjustment'. If your landlord refuses to make a reasonable adjustment, they may be discriminating against you and could be acting illegally.
In some circumstances, a landlord may be able to refuse to make a reasonable adjustment if they have a good enough reason, for example, on health and safety grounds.
If you are disabled and your landlord refuses to allow you to keep an assistance dog, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
How the landlord can get possession of the accommodation will depend on the type of tenancy.
In most cases the landlord has to follow an eviction procedure. Once a landlord has served a notice on you, this does not necessarily mean you can be evicted. In nearly all cases a court order is needed, and further notice of court proceedings is often required. Whether the court will allow the eviction will depend on the kind of tenancy and the reasons for seeking eviction. However, in some cases, a court order may not be necessary. For example, a court order for eviction is not needed to evict someone from her/his home if:-
- there is a resident landlord and the tenancy started after 2 January 1989
- the tenancy is a hostel run by a public sector landlord.
If you have been asked to leave the accommodation by your landlord or have been told that s/he is taking court proceedings for possession, you should not move out before consulting an experienced adviser, for example a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
If the landlord has got an order from the court giving her/him possession of the property you do not have to leave until the date on the order.
There is more information about eviction on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
A landlord must not discriminate against you because of your disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, sex, disability, sexual orientation or religion. This means that they are probably breaking the law if they:-
- refuse to let a property to you because of discrimination
- rent a property to you on terms that are less good than other tenants
- treat you differently from other tenants in the way you are allowed to use facilities such as a laundry or a garden
- evict or harass you because of discrimination
- charge you higher rent than other tenants
- refuse to carry out repairs to your home, because of discrimination
- refuse to make reasonable changes to a property or a term in the tenancy agreement which would allow a disabled person to live there.
There are some circumstances where the general rules about discrimination may not apply, for example, if your landlord lives in the same property as you.
If you think your landlord is discriminating against you, you should get advice from an experienced adviser, for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Notice to end the tenancy
Tenancy ended by landlord
There are many rules governing the notice needed for ending tenancy agreements and applying for eviction orders from the court. The rules cover the length of notice needed, the form in which it must be given and the dates on which it must take effect.
In some cases, a landlord has to serve a special notice on you before s/he can apply for an eviction order. The rules vary depending on what kind of tenancy it is; in some cases, more than one notice is needed.
If a private landlord wants to end a tenancy on the date the agreement expires, s/he must usually serve a Notice conforming to special rules.
If you are a tenant and you receive a Notice seeking possession, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Tenancy ended by tenant
A tenant generally has to give the same amount of notice as a landlord to end the tenancy agreement.
If a tenant wants to end an agreement before it is due to expire, s/he can only do so with the permission of the landlord or if there is a term in the agreement that allows for this. Otherwise s/he may end up liable for the rent for the remainder of the time covered by the agreement.
The legal rules about the type of tenancy or the written tenancy agreement may say how the tenant can give notice. If they do not, the tenant should give notice in a letter that they have signed and sent to their landlord by recorded delivery. Giving notice by e-mail or text message is not advisable and, in many cases, is not a valid way of ending a tenancy. There is information about ending a tenancy on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If you want to end a tenancy agreement, or if you have given notice to the landlord and then changed your mind and want to stay on, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau, as there are different rules on this for different kinds of tenancy - where to get advice.
What happens if you leave without giving proper notice
If a tenant leaves without giving proper notice, the landlord may be entitled to charge rent up to the date when notice should have expired, or up to the end of the tenancy agreement if you did not give any notice at all.
If you rent from a local authority or a registered social landlord which thinks that you have abandoned the property it might take steps to recover the property using abandonment proceedings. You can find out more about abandonment proceedings on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If there is a dispute about rent arrears in this situation you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Getting your deposit back at the end of a tenancy
If you live in privately rented accommodation you might have paid a deposit to the landlord at the start of a tenancy as security for any arrears or damage to property, this should be returned at the end of the tenancy if the accommodation has:-
- been left in good condition, and
- there are no rent arrears or unpaid bills.
If the deposit is held in an approved tenancy deposit scheme and the landlord and tenant do not agree about how the tenancy deposit should be paid back, either party can ask for the dispute to be referred to the dispute resolution service. For more information about tenancy deposit schemes and using a dispute resolution service, visit the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk
If the deposit is not held in an approved tenancy deposit scheme and the landlord refuses to return the deposit or makes deductions, you should check the terms of the tenancy agreement or the agreed inventory, if there was one, to see what the deposit was supposed to cover. In cases of damage to property, it will often be cheaper for you to make good the damage than for the landlord to charge for the cost of getting repairs done.
If the deposit is not in a tenancy deposit scheme and the landlord persists in refusing to return a deposit, you could use the small claims procedure in the sheriff court to try to get it back. The sheriff can order a landlord to pay up to three times the amount of the deposit to the tenants. This happened in a sheriff court case which was decided in August 2013. The landlord had failed to pay the tenants' deposit into a tenancy deposit scheme and did not return the deposit to the tenants at the end of the tenancy. The court ordered the landlord to pay the tenants three times their deposit as a form of punishment for not complying with his obligations under the law.
There is more information about tenancy deposit schemes on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.
If court action is being considered you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Property left in the house after you leave
If you leave things behind when you give up a tenancy, the landlord may charge for the cost of clearing them out of the house.
If you owe the landlord money at the end of the tenancy, the landlord is not entitled to hold on to any possessions you leave behind until the debt is cleared.
Property you left behind still belongs to you and normally should be returned to you when you ask for it. However there are special rules that apply to property found in a house which a public sector landlord has repossessed because they think it has been abandoned.
If a landlord does not wish to return belongings you left in accommodation or you want to know more about the special rules that apply to the public sector landlord's tenants you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
Passing the tenancy on to someone else
The tenant leaves and wants to pass the tenancy on
Passing on a tenancy to someone else is called assignment. The rules about who can and who cannot assign tenancies are very complex.
If you want to assign your tenancy to someone else you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
The tenant dies
When a tenant dies there are rules which may allow the tenancy to be passed on to your partner or, sometimes, another member of the family who has been living with you. These rules apply regardless of anything stated in a tenancy agreement. A tenancy agreement can increase the basic rights of a tenant, but it cannot take these rights away. The rules are different for different kinds of tenancy.
To find out how the rules apply in a particular case you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.
My same-sex partner has just died. We lived together in a one-bedroom council flat for the last 25 years but it was always in his name and we never entered into a civil partnership. I'm afraid I'll be evicted.
You have probably got the right to stay in the flat. This is called the right of succession. The law says that partners in same-sex or opposite-sex couples count as a member of the family of the person who died. This means you will probably have the right of succession as long as:-
- you were living at your partner's property when he died, and
- the property was your only or main home, and
- you were living with your partner for at least twelve months before he died.
You should get advice about your situation from an experienced housing adviser.
1 The Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 s327