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All About Tenancy Agreements

What you need to look for in your tenancy agreement.

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a contract between you and your landlord that sets out your rights to live in a rented property.

If you rent from a private landlord, you will have either:

  • A private residential tenancy (if the tenancy started on or after 1 December 2017)
  • An assured tenancy
  • A short assured tenancy
  • If you share the property with your landlord, for example rent a room in their house, you will be a common law tenant

What should a tenancy agreement include?

Tenancy agreements have to include:

  • Landlord details
  • Tenant details
  • Rental address
  • Rent
  • Term (assured, short assured and common law tenancies only)

Agreements should also include:

  • the type of tenancy
  • what the rent covers
  • when and how the rent should be paid
  • the amount of deposit to be paid and in what circumstances it will not be returned
  • what your obligations are to repair and decorate the property
  • how can the lease be ended
  • if you are allowed to keep pets in the property
  • if you are allowed to take in lodgers or sublet the property
  • if you are allowed to pass the tenancy on to someone else

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.


Do I need a written tenancy agreement?

If your landlord doesn't give you a written tenancy agreement, you still have legal rights as a tenant.

Private residential tenancy, assured and short assured tenants are entitled to a written agreement, so if your landlord refuses to give you one you can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber.


The private residential tenancy

Any tenancy that started on or after 1 December 2017 will be a private residential tenancy. This new tenancy will replace the assured and short assured tenancy and will bring in changes and improvements to the private rented sector, including:

  • No fixed terms - private residential tenancies are open ended, meaning your landlord can't ask you to leave just because you've been in the property for 6 months as they can with a short assured tenancy.
  • Rent increases - your rent can only be increased once every 12 months and if you think the proposed increase is unfair you can refer it to a rent officer.
  • Longer notice period - if you've lived in a property for longer than 6 months your landlord will have to give you at least 84 days notice to leave (unless you've broken a term in the tenancy).
  • Simpler notices - the notice to quit process will be scrapped and replaced by a simpler notice to leave process.
  • Model tenancy agreement - the Scottish Government will published a model private residential tenancy that can be used by landlords to set up a tenancy.

If your tenancy started before 1 December 2017 your tenancy will continue as normal until you or your landlord bring it to an end following the correct procedure. If your landlord then offers you a new tenancy this will be a private residential tenancy.


Short assured tenancies

Short assured tenancies are the most commonly used tenancy type in the PRS. They have to be set up in the correct way and last for at least 6 months.

What is an AT5?

An AT5 is the special notice that your landlord must give you if they want your tenancy to be short assured rather than assured. You must be given an AT5 before you move into the property or it will not be a short assured tenancy.

You can download a sample AT5 form.

If you have not received an AT5 notice stating that you have a short assured tenancy or your tenancy is for less than six months, you will have an assured tenancy, and your landlord may find it harder to evict you.

The City of Edinburgh Council have a sample short assured tenancy agreement on their website if you want to have a look at an example.


Joint tenancies

If you and your flatmates or housemates have a joint tenancy agreement, you will all have exactly the same rights and responsibilities. This means you are all equally responsible for paying the rent and keeping to the terms of your tenancy agreement.


Resident landlord

People who share accommodation with their landlord have different rights to those who rent separate property.

A resident landlord must:

  • use the property as their only or main home (if your landlord only stays in the property occasionally and has another home elsewhere, they won't count as a resident landlord); and
  • have direct access from their accommodation to yours.

Your landlord does not have to own the property - you can also sublet a room from another tenant who lives in the property. You will have what is known as a common law tenancy if:

  • you share accommodation with your landlord, but
  • you have exclusive possession of part of the property (for example, you have your own bedroom).

Download an example of a lodger agreement.

If your landlord moves out, you will become an assured or short assured tenant, with much stronger tenancy rights.

Check our main site more information and help on tenancy agreements.


Change of landlord

If your landlord sells the property or the landlord dies and passed new owner, the new owner will have to honour the terms of your lease. This means they won't be able to evict you without a good reason, and they won't be able to raise the rent without going through the proper procedures.

If your landlord is having money problems and cannot pay the mortgage on the property you're renting, their mortgage lender may repossess the property. This may also happen if your landlord has other secured loans on the property and cannot pay them back. This means the lender will become your landlord. You will still have tenancy rights, and the lender will not be able to throw you out overnight. However, it's likely that they will begin eviction proceedings as soon as possible.

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