Landlords' rights and responsibilities
This page provides an overview of the rights and responsibilities of being a landlord if you rent out property in Scotland.
If you are thinking of letting your home, it is vital that you are aware of your legal rights and obligations. One of the first things you will need to do is register as a landlord with every local authority area that you let a house out in. You can find out more about landlord registration here.
When a property is advertised, landlords have to include their registration number in all adverts.
The Right to Rent
From 1 February 2015 landlords who have rental properties in England and Wales will have to check that tenants or lodgers can legally rent their property. These regulations only apply to properties in England and Wales, and will not apply to tenants or lodgers who rent property in Scotland.
Basic tenancy rights
If you choose to rent out a property one of the things that you have to decide is what type of tenancy you are going to use. The tenancy agreement should be in writing and will be either a short assured tenancy or an assured tenancy, unless you are resident landlord (living in the same property as your tenant/s). If the tenancy agreement is not in writing, then it will automatically become a statutory assured tenancy, and this may mean you find it harder to get your property back when you need to. The short assured tenancy is the most common type of tenancy used by landlords.
The following two points should be considered and noted if you decided to set up a short assured tenancy:
- The agreement - has to be in writing and you must have served an AT5 form (this a legal document that can be downloaded here) to the tenant(s) prior to the tenancy agreement being signed.
- The length of the lease - must be no less then six months.
If you set up the short assured tenancy incorrectly then you may find that getting your property back is harder then you initially thought. You can find out more about tenancy agreements here.
Repairs and maintenance
Landlords are generally responsible for the maintenance and major repairs to a property. This includes repairs to the structure and exterior of the property, heating and hot water installations, basins, sinks, baths and other sanitary installations. You need to be aware of how you should arrange access to the property - see Living in your accommodation for tenants' rights when landlords need access. You need to provide reasonable notice, at least 24 hours and get their permission.
Landlords have a duty to ensure that the houses they rent to tenants meet the repairing standard. Tenants will be able to apply to the Private Rented Housing Panel (PRHP) for a ruling that their landlord has failed to meet that duty. If the panel decides your property doesn't meet the repairing standard, they will order you to carry out the necessary work. If you don't, you could face a fine.
You must keep a record of any gas safety checks and, usually, you must issue it to the occupier within 28 days of each annual check. Gas appliances must carry safety certificates from qualified engineers who are on the Gas Safe Register. For more information on your responsibilities as a landlord the Gas Safe Register is a good place to start.
By law, you must ensure that the electrical system and any electrical appliances supplied with the let, such as cookers, kettles, toasters, washing machines and immersion heaters, are safe to use. If you are supplying new appliances, you should also provide any accompanying instruction booklets. For more information on your responsibilities as a landlord, visit the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) website.
There are rules about smoke and heat alarms in privately rented properties, they need to be mains powered and interlinked. You'll need to make sure you have sufficient smoke and heat alarms. Check the Scottish Government guidance on fire safety. If you supply furniture or furnishings with the let, you must ensure that they meet the fire resistance requirements, sometimes known as the 'match test' in the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988. There should be a symbol on your furniture to state that it is fire resistant, you can find out more and see examples of the labels here.
Tenant information packs
Landlords have to provide all new assured and short assured tenants a tenant information pack.
The tenant information pack provides information about property condition, tenancy agreements, and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.
Landlords that fail to provide tenant information packs to their tenants could face a fine of £500.
House in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
If you are planning to let your property out to three or more unrelated tenants, you must have a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence. If you are not sure whether you need a licence for your property, you should contact your local authority for advice.
There are three main areas looked into when a property owner applies for an HMO licence: the suitability of an owner to be an HMO landlord, the management of the premises, and the physical condition and facilities of the accommodation. These things must be checked before a licence is granted.
The owner of a property must make the application for an HMO licence, even if the property is to be leased to or managed by another person or organisation. If someone other than you carries out the day-to-day management of the property (for example, a letting agent), they will be named on the licence as a joint licence holder.
Section 11 notices
If a landlord wants to evict a tenant via court then the landlord must tell the tenant's local council that they're planning on taking this course of action, this is called a section 11 notice.
The main function of a section 11 notice is to let the council know that an individual, or household, is at risk of becoming homeless. Once councils know about the court action they can try to intervene to see if the eviction can be halted, through mediation or other means. The notice also gives the council time to discuss alternative housing options with the tenant.
The section 11 duty does not interfere with the day-to-day management of a private rented properties. The normal process when a tenant leaves a property at the end date (sometimes called the ish date) of a tenancy is not complicated by the section 11 requirement. It is only when a landlord thinks that the only way that their are going to get the property back is via court action that these regulations have to be followed.
Find out more about section 11 notices from the Scottish Government.
Energy performance certificates
If you're letting out a property to tenants, you must be able to produce a valid energy performance certificate free of charge to anyone interested in renting the property.
You also need to know the EPC rating of the property and include this rating in any advertising.
if you don't provide a Energy Performance Certificate or you fail to include the EPC rating in any advert for the property, then you may be liable to a fine of up to £1000.
A full list of organisations which can provide energy performance certificates is available from the Scottish Government.
Help and support for landlords
Landlord Accreditation Scotland is a scheme run by landlords for landlords that offers help and support to landlords and aims to promote best practice in the private rented sector in Scotland.
Landlord Accreditation Scotland aims to:
- provide benefits for both landlords and tenants in the private rented sector
- promote best practice and continuous improvement of standards in the private rented sector
- provide tenancy advice to landlords and tenants
- give tenants reassurance that they can expect their landlord to operate high management standards.
To apply landlords have to complete a self-certification checklist to confirm that they are complying with the required standards. Visit Landlord Accreditation Scotland to find out more.
The above is just a basic outline of the rights and responsibilities of being a landlord, if you are unsure of anything or have any questions you should seek independent legal advice.