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Tenancy agreements

A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord that sets out your rights to live in a rented property. This page explains what a tenancy agreement should contain and you can also download a tenancy agreement template.

On 1 December 2017 a new type of tenancy came into force, called the private residential tenancy, it replaced assured and short assured tenancy agreements for all new tenancies, the information on this page applies only to private residential tenancies.

What is a tenancy agreement?

It is a contract between you and your landlord which sets out both of your rights and responsibilities while you are renting the property. Your rights depend on the kind of tenancy you have. If you're not sure about what kind of tenancy you have use our online tenancy checker to find out. If you're still unsure, you can ask an adviser. 

You have the right to a tenancy agreement, which can be either a written or electronic copy, and must be given to you within 28 days of the start of the tenancy.

The Scottish Government has published a model tenancy that your landlord can use to set up a tenancy. This tenancy agreement contains certain statutory terms that outline both parties rights and obligations including:

  • The tenant's and landlord/letting agent's contact details
  • The address and details of the rented property
  • The start date of the tenancy
  • How much the rent is and how it can be increased
  • How much the deposit is and information about how it will be registered
  • Who is responsible for insuring the property.
  • The tenant has to inform the landlord when they are going to be absent from the property for more than 14 days
  • The tenant will take reasonable care of the property
  • The condition that the landlord must make sure the property is in, including the repairing standard.
  • That the tenant must inform the landlord the need of any repairs.
  • That the tenant will give reasonable access to the property, when the landlord has given at least 48 hours notice
  • The process that the tenancy can be brought to an end

If your landlord uses the Scottish Government's' model tenancy they should also give you the 'Easy Read Notes' which will explain the tenancy terms in plain English. 

If your landlord does not use the model tenancy they must give you the private residential tenancy statutory terms: supporting notes, with your lease, which will explains the basic 9 set of terms that your landlord has to include in the lease.

Where do tenancy rights come from?

Your rights as a tenant come from:

  • the law
  • your tenancy agreement.

Your legal rights cannot be taken away, no matter what your tenancy agreement says. This means that sometimes you have more rights than what's in your tenancy agreement.

For example:

  • Paying your rent late: your tenancy agreement might say that if rent is so many days late then you have to leave. This is simply a scare tactic. Not paying your rent is a ground for eviction, however, your landlord needs a court order before they can evict you.
  • A week's notice to leave: your landlord may put something in your tenancy agreement which says they can give you a week's notice to leave the property. This is also unenforceable, because the law gives you at least four weeks' notice before you can be made to leave the property. In addition your landlord must get a court order to make you leave. The section on eviction has more information on when your landlord can ask you to leave.

Your tenancy agreement can also add to your rights. For example, it may say that you can keep pets, or redecorate.

What if I share my rented accommodation?

If you share a flat or house, you will have one of the following tenancy types:

  • Joint tenancy - this means that everyone in the flat or house is on the same tenancy agreement and you are all responsible for paying the rent and bills. If one of you doesn't pay the rent, the others will have to pay it.
  • Sole tenancy - this means that one person in the flat has signed the tenancy agreement with the landlord and is responsible for paying the rent and bills. Everyone else in the flat will still have to pay their share, but if someone doesn't pay, the person on the tenancy agreement is ultimately responsible for coming up with the money.
  • Separate tenancy - this means that everyone in the flat or house has a separate tenancy agreement with the landlord and is responsible for paying the amount of rent that's written in their agreement.

Our page on your rights if you share and the section on sharing accommodation has more information on things you should think about before moving into a shared house or flat.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

The important points

  • A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord.
  • When you move into a property your landlord should give you a written tenancy agreement.
  • You legal rights cannot be taken away no matter what a tenancy agreement says.
  • Tenancy agreements should be written in plain English and be easy to understand.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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