A Guide to Renting Privately in Scotland

Looking for a Home

The where, what and how of looking for a private rented home in Scotland.

The private residential tenancy

A private tenancy that started on or after 1 December 2017 will be a 'Private residential tenancy'. Some older tenancies created before this date still exist. These are called assured and short assured tenancies.

For more information about rights in different types of tenancies check the section about your rights if you rent your home.

Where to look

  • Online: there are lots of websites listing rental properties

  • Your local council: look on your local council website

  • Students: your Student Accommodation Office should have lists of reputable landlords who rent to students. You can also try Accommodation for Students.

Letting agents

If you use a letting agent to help you find accommodation they should not charge you for this. All letting agents must be be registered - you can check this on the Scottish Letting Agent Register. All letting agents must also comply with the Letting Agent Code of Practice.

Is the landlord registered

You should always check that the landlord is registered with the Scottish Landlord Register. Most private landlords should be registered or have applied to register. Landlords also have to include their registration number in the property advert.

The right to rent

From 1 February 2016 landlords who have rental properties in England and Wales have to check that tenants or lodgers can legally rent their property. These regulations only apply to properties in England and Wales. They do not apply to tenants or lodgers who rent property in Scotland.

Energy Performance Certificates

Any landlord who puts a property up for rent must obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) giving the property an energy rating and must show it to you free of charge.

Also, in any advert for the property, the landlord will need to state the EPC rating.

Viewing a property

Remember, when you go to view a home, always follow these safety guidelines:

  • Don't go on your own. Always take someone with you.

  • Always let other people know where you're going, who you're meeting and when you should be back.

  • Arrange to call someone afterwards to let them know you're safe.


Once you've found a property the landlord or letting agent can ask you to pay a deposit, but they cannot ask you to pay any other charges, such as fees for credit checking, administrative work or anything else. These charges are premiums and are unlawful; you should challenge letting agents if they ask you to pay any extra fees.

Making an inventory

Once you've moved in, you should make an inventory. An inventory is a list of the contents of a property. Having an inventory is important if you want to get your deposit back.

  • Your landlord or letting agent should supply you with an inventory form. If they haven't done so by the time you move in, ask for one.

  • If you aren't given an inventory, you can make one yourself and get an independent witness who doesn't live in the property to sign it. You could also take photos of the property when you move in.

Download an inventory form.

Last updated: 4 October 2020

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England