A Guide to Social Housing

Social Tenancies Renting Rights

Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for social housing in Scotland.

Am I Scottish secure tenant?

If you rent your home from the council, a housing association or a housing co-operative, then you will most probably have a Scottish secure tenancy.

You will not have a Scottish secure tenancy if:

Right to information

As a Scottish secure tenancy your landlord must give you:

  • a written tenancy agreement

  • information about the complaints procedure

  • information about how your rent is set

  • information about how housing is allocated by your landlord and what the policies for transfers and exchanges are.

You can also ask for information about:

  • what are the policies are concerning repairs and maintenance

Who can live with me?

Any member of your family can live with you, as long it doesn't lead to overcrowding. But you must tell your landlord who is living with you, and let them know when someone moves in or out.


If you want to sublet your home, you will need to write to your landlord, explaining who the new tenant will be, when they will be moving in and how much deposit and rent you will be charging them. Your landlord has to give you permission, unless they have good reason not to.


If you die, your tenancy can be passed onto another member of the household. This is called succession. Your tenancy can be succeeded to by:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner

  • another joint tenant.

  • an opposite-sex or same-sex partner, but only if they have lived with you for at least 12 months and the landlord was notified of this

If none of the above apply but you have another family member who lives with you they may be able to succeed to the tenancy, but only if they lived with you for at least 12 months at the time of your death, and only if the landlord was notified of this. They might be excluded from succeeding if the property had any special adaptations.


Abandonment is when your landlord thinks you are no longer living in the home and wants to end your tenancy. To end your tenancy, they must send you a written notice, called an abandonment notice.

The notice must give you at least four weeks (28 days) to let your landlord know that you are still living there, or that you are staying away temporarily but intend to return.

At the end of the four weeks' notice, if you have not contacted your landlord, you can be served with another notice stating that your tenancy has been ended.

Joint Tenancies

Anyone living with you for at least 12 months can apply to become a joint tenant, provided that it is their main home. Both you and the prospective joint tenant need to apply to your landlord in writing. Your landlord has to agree to the joint tenancy, unless they have a good reason not to.

If you have a joint Scottish secure tenancy, you will have exactly the same rights and responsibilities as each other.

Short Scottish secure tenancies

As a short Scottish secure tenant you have less rights than a Scottish secure tenant.

You could have a short Scottish secure tenancy if

  • in the last three years you have been evicted from a previous tenancy because of antisocial behaviour or you or a member of your household has had an antisocial behaviour order (ASBO).

  • you have a tenancy of six months or more with support to help you sustain your tenancy

  • you have just moved to a new area to start a job and need a short term tenancy while you look for your own accommodation

  • you are homeless and have been offered temporary accommodation for six months or more

  • the property you will be living in is going to be developed.

Before signing a tenancy agreement, the landlord will give you a notice informing you:

  • that you are being offered a short Scottish secure tenancy

  • why you are being offered a short Scottish secure tenancy and not a Scottish secure tenancy

  • how long the lease is for, at least 6 months.

If you do not think you should be offered a short Scottish secure tenancy instead of a Scottish secure tenancy, you can apply to the sheriff court for an order to make your landlord offer you a Scottish secure tenancy.

Last updated: 5 October 2020

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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