About landlord registration
Every council in Scotland now holds a formal register of all landlords and letting agents in their area. You can consult the registers of all councils through a central website provided by the Scottish Government. This page looks at what the system means for tenants.
What is landlord registration?
Landlord registration is a new system that helps councils monitor private landlords and ensure that they are suitable people to let out property. Before any person or agency is registered, the council will have to check that the applicant is a fit and proper person to let property. All private landlords now have an obligation to apply to the local council for registration. If they haven't registered, or haven't applied for registration, it's a criminal offence.
How does registration work?
Each council has a formal register listing the private landlords in its area who are registered. These registers are held on a central database that is provided by the Scottish Government (although the Government does not have access to the data on the database). The database is part of a Scottish Government website dedicated to the new registration system.
Which landlords are exempt?
Most owners of privately rented properties have to be registered. However, there are some exceptions. Landlords of the following properties may be exempt from registration:
- a property in which they themselves live all, or most, of the time, with their tenants
- registered care homes
- places such as boarding schools and other school accommodation
- secure accommodation such as young offenders' institutions
- manses, convents and other properties used by religious orders
- holiday homes
- crofts or farmland subject to an agricultural tenancy, where the agricultural tenant lives on the property
- properties where the owner has died within the last six months and the inheritance is still being sorted out
- properties that are owned by a person acting as an insolvency practitioner, and the property has been owned by that person for less than six months.
How does my landlord register?
The application for registration has to be made by the property owner to the local council. This can be done online at the Landlord Registration website or by sending the application form to the local council. You can find out more about how to register here.
How do I find out if a landlord is registered?
If you're looking for a place to rent, it's important to check that the landlord is registered with the council before you agree to move in or sign a tenancy agreement. You can do this by checking the online register, but bear in mind that not all landlords are listed on this yet. If you're not sure, contact the council to find out.
From 1 June 2013, when a property is advertised, landlords have to include their registration number in all adverts.
What if my current landlord isn't registered?
If your landlord hasn't applied to register and isn't exempt from registering (see 'are any landlords exempt' above), make sure you let them know that they should do so - it's possible that they may not have realised that they need to register. If they still don't register, contact the council and they will get in touch with your landlord and give them a deadline by which they must register.
What can the council do if my landlord doesn't register?
If your landlord doesn't register, the council can send them a rent penalty notice (RPN) - you can find out more about RPNs in the section on antisocial behaviour.
Renting out property without being registered with the council is a criminal offence and landlords can be fined up to £50,000 if found guilty.
What if my landlord is removed from the register?
If the council refuses to register your landlord or removes them from the register, they will write to you and any other tenants to let you know and to give you some information about your rights, including:
- what your position is if your landlord ends your tenancy
- where you can get advice and assistance if your tenancy ends
- how to get help from the council if you become homeless.
Can my landlord evict me if they're removed from the register?
Your landlord can't evict you just because they've been removed from the register - this is not a valid reason or 'ground' for eviction. However, the council will expect your landlord to end your tenancy as soon as they legally can.
How easily they can do this will depend on the kind of tenancy you have. For example, if you have a short assured tenancy, your landlord will probably be able to evict you fairly quickly, depending on how long your lease has to run. However, if you have an assured or regulated tenancy, you have much stronger rights to stay on.
Check your tenancy type here then go to the section on eviction to find out what your landlord will have to do in order to end your tenancy. If you don't think your landlord is following the correct procedure, you should talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice and see if you can prevent or delay the eviction. Use the Advice Services Directory to find an agency near you.
If your landlord ends your tenancy, you should start looking for a new place to live as soon as possible - for example, you could consider:
- putting your name down on the council's waiting list
- applying to a housing association
- renting from another private landlord.
If you have nowhere to go, you may be able to get help from the council as a homeless person.