Assured tenancies

This page explains your rights if you have an assured tenancy with a private landlord or letting agency.

What is an assured tenancy?

You will probably have an assured tenancy if you rent from a private landlord or a letting agency and:

  • your tenancy started after 2 January 1989, and
  • before the tenancy started you were not given an AT5 notice stating that your tenancy is a short assured tenancy, and
  • you're renting the property as a home, and
  • it's your only or main home.

You don't have to rent the whole property, you could just be renting a room or part of the property. However, if you are sharing the property with your landlord, you won't have an assured tenancy.

Tenancy agreements

You have the right to a written tenancy agreement. It should tell you:

  • how long your tenancy is for
  • how much rent you need to pay and when you should pay it
  • if the rent can be put up and how this will be calculated
  • who is responsible for decoration and repairs to the inside and outside of the property
  • about any conditions or restrictions to the use of the property, for example, no pets, no smokers.

Some of your rights come from the law and some from your tenancy agreement. It's always best for you and your landlord to have a written tenancy agreement, as this helps avoid any confusion. If you don't have a written tenancy agreement you should seek advice. If your landlord refuses to give you a written tenancy agreement they can be forced by a sheriff to give you one. 

In addition to your rights you also have some responsibilities as a tenant. If you don't pay attention to these you may face eviction.

If you live with two or more other tenants who aren't members of the same family, your landlord will need to have a house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence from the local council. This gives you some additional rights.

How long is my tenancy for?

Your tenancy agreement will say how long your tenancy is. At the end of that time, your tenancy will automatically renew itself unless:

  • you give your landlord written notice that you want to leave at the end of the tenancy, or
  • your landlord gives you written notice that they want you to leave because you have broken a condition of your tenancy agreement.

Your landlord cannot ask you to leave just because your tenancy has reached its end date. They need to have a specific reason (or ground) for asking you to leave. The section on the eviction of assured tenants explains when your landlord can ask you to leave.

If neither you nor your landlord has given notice to end the tenancy, it will renew itself for the same length of time. E.g. if it was for six months, it will repeat for another six months. However, if the tenancy was for more than a year, it will only renew itself for another year.

Tenancy deposit schemes

Your landlord or letting agent must register your deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of your tenancy starting.

Tenant information packs 

Your landlord must to provide you with a tenant information pack.

The tenant information pack provides information about property condition, tenancy agreements, and the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.

If your landlord  does not provide you with a tenant information pack at the start of your tenancy then they could be fined £500.  

What if I want to leave my tenancy?

Before you can leave, you must give your landlord written notice.

If you want to leave before the end of your tenancy you'll need to check to see whether you can do this. This should be stated in your tenancy agreement. If it is, it should also tell you how much notice you need to give.

Even if this is not mentioned in the tenancy agreement, you may be able to come to an arrangement with your landlord.

If you can't reach an arrangement with your landlord, you'll have to give notice stating that you wish to leave when the tenancy runs out.

The minimum notice you have to  give is (if the notice is not stated on the lease):

  • 28 days if your initial tenancy was for less than four months 
  • 40 days if your initial tenancy was for longer than four months.

The minimum notice is based on how long your lease is, not how long you've live in the property.

If you leave the property without giving notice, or before your notice has run out, you'll still be responsible for the property and the rent. If your landlord takes legal action against you for unpaid rent, you could be responsible for any legal costs that they have to pay.

Can my landlord come into my home without warning?

No. Your landlord can only come into your home at times that have been agreed with you.

There are special rules if your landlord needs to come in to do repairs, or to inspect the condition of the property. They, or someone acting on their behalf, must give you at least 24 hours notice before coming round.

If you don't want your landlord, or anyone working for them to come round, you should let them know. However, in extreme circumstances your landlord can go to court to ask the sheriff for a court order telling you to let them in.

How can I get repairs carried out?

Your landlord is responsible for keeping the property wind and watertight, and in a condition that is safe and comfortable to live in. They're also responsible for ensuring that the repairing standard is met. This is a basic level of repair that is required by law. Your landlord must give you information on the repairing standard and what you can do if your home does not meet it. The section on repairs tells you what you can do if your landlord doesn't carry out repairs.

If you want to carry out work on your home, such as redecorating or installing a second phone line, you need permission from your landlord first. Some tenancy agreements will include a clause telling you whether you can carry out this kind of work. However, you should always speak to your landlord before carrying out work like this.

How can I find out the name and address of my landlord?

If you rent from a letting agency you have a right to know who your landlord is. Request their name and address from the letting agent in writing. You should get these details within 21 days. It is a criminal offence for the landlord or letting agency to not give you this information.

If your landlord changes, you should be given the new landlord's name and address by the later of these 2 dates:

  • before the next day that the rent is due, or 
  • within two months of the change.

Can I sublet my home or take in a lodger?

Your tenancy agreement might state whether you can sublet part of your property. If it's not mentioned in your tenancy agreement, you must ask your landlord for permission to sublet. Even if your tenancy agreement says you can sublet, it's important that you discuss this with your landlord first.

Can I pass my tenancy onto someone else?

There may be a clause in your tenancy agreement which tells you whether you can pass on your tenancy to someone else. This is called assignation. It may also say what you need to do before you can pass your tenancy on.

If you can't find this in your tenancy agreement, you must get permission from your landlord first.

My landlord has died

If your landlord dies the new landlord will have to honour the terms of your tenancy agreement. This means they won't be able to evict you without a good reason (for example, because you haven't been paying your rent or because your lease has expired), and they won't be able to raise the rent without going through the proper procedures.

What happens to the tenancy if a tenant dies?

If a tenant dies, you may be able to take the tenancy over if:

  • the tenant was your husband, wife or civil partner, or
  • the tenant was someone who was living with you as your husband, wife or civil partner.

This is called succession.

There are some restrictions to succession:

  • you must have been living in the house as your only or main home when the tenant died, and
  • the tenancy can only be passed by succession once.

The landlord can ask the new tenant to leave, but only if they do so within a year of the death, or a year of finding out about the death.

If the tenancy can't be passed on, the landlord may be willing to set up a new tenancy agreement with someone who was living in the home.

Our section on death in the household has more information on succession.

What if I have a complaint?

If you have a complaint about your landlord try talking or writing to them first about the problem. If that doesn't work, get advice from your local council or an adviser in your local area. See the page on complaining about a private landlord for more information.

Can I have a joint assured tenancy?

It's possible to have a joint tenancy with other tenants, so long as one of you lives in the property as your only or main home. However, it's up to your landlord to decide whether or not to grant a joint tenancy.

The important points

  • You have the right to a written tenancy agreement, which will provide information about the tenancy details.
  • If you want to leave you must give your landlord written notice.
  • Your landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is habitable and meeting the repairing standard.
  • If renting from a letting agent you have the right to know who your landlord is.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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