What is rent?
This content applies to Scotland only.
Housing laws vary between Scotland and England. Get advice relating to England
Whoever is your landlord you will pay rent in return for living in your home. This page gives a introduction to rent and what can be charged as rent.
What is rent?
Rent is money paid by tenants to landlords in return for living in their property. You and your landlord will agree on the amount of rent to be paid before your tenancy starts. Your tenancy agreement should state:
- how much is your rent
- when is the rent due (weekly, monthly, etc)
- on which day should the rent be paid
- how should be the rent paid (standing order, direct debit, cheque or cash)
- what does the rent cover (does it include council tax or gas, electricity or phone bills?)
If you pay your rent weekly then your landlord has to give you a rent book, this is so you can keep a record of rent paid. You can download a sample rent book, if you don't already have one, and use it to keep track of your payments.
Can I get help to pay the rent?
If you are on benefits or a low income you may be entitled to housing benefit to help pay your rent.
Your landlord will normally expect the first payment of rent on the day you move into the property. If you need help with paying this rent there are two different types of interest-free loan that could help you:
Who has to pay rent?
If you are the only person on the tenancy agreement then you are responsible for paying all the rent.
If you have a joint tenancy (that is, if other people living with you are on the tenancy agreement), you are all responsible for paying the rent. If one of you does not pay, the others are responsible for paying that person's share.
Can I withhold rent?
Occasionally it might be possible for you to withhold rent:
- to recoup losses you suffered which were the fault of your landlord, for example if you had to carry out and pay for repairs that were your landlord's responsibility
- to force your landlord to carry out repairs or improve services.
Find out more about withholding rent.
What if my landlord wants to put the rent up?
Your landlord have to follow certain procedures before they can put your rent up. The page on rent increases explains these procedures and also has advice on what you can do if you disagree with a rent increase and want to challenge it.
Can I be charged separately for gas and electricity?
Usually, when you move into a rented property, your landlord will ask you to put the gas and electricity bills in your name. However, sometimes your landlord may be responsible for paying the supplier and will bill you separately for the electricity and gas you use.
There are rules as to how much your landlord can charge you for this:
- They can only charge you for the electricity/gas you have used.
- They can only charge you what they themselves have been charged for the electricity/gas.
- They cannot resell you the supply at a profit.
If you think you are being overcharged, ask your landlord to show you how your bill is calculated. If you're still not happy, contact the Energy Ombudsman.
These rules only apply if your landlord gives you a separate bill for gas and electricity. If your rent includes gas and electricity (for example, you pay £100 a week, £10 of which goes towards electricity), these rules don't apply.