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Your responsibilities as a private landlord

If you own a property that you rent out, you have legal responsibilities as a private landlord.

You should not ask any prospective tenant to prove their immigration status. Right to rent checks only apply in England.

Registering as a landlord

Before renting out your property you must register with the council, unless you:

  • live in the property with the tenant

  • are subletting a home that you rent from someone else

  • rent the property to a family member - this does not include cousins

Once you register, you must include your landlord registration number:

  • on any adverts for the property

  • in the tenancy agreement

  • when you protect the tenant's deposit

To register, you can either:

Getting a house of multiple occupation (HMO) licence

You must apply for a HMO licence if you rent to 3 or more people who are not related to one another.

If you live with the tenants, you do not count in the number of families.

Your property will need to meet extra criteria before you can get an HMO licence.

To apply, contact your council's landlord registration team on

Using a letting agency

You can employ a letting agent to manage the property for you. They'll carry out certain tasks on your behalf, such as:

  • advertising the property

  • carrying out property viewings

  • inspecting the property

  • telling you if repair work is needed

You’ll still be responsible for repairs and protecting deposits.

Letting agents must follow the letting agent code of practice. If they do not, you can make a complaint.

Taking a deposit and rent in advance

You can charge a maximum of 2 months’ rent as a deposit.

If you're taking rent in advance, you can only ask for a maximum of 6 months’ rent.

You can only charge a deposit and rent in advance. If you charge a tenant or any prospective tenant for anything else, such as a holding deposit or key money, this is an unlawful fee. They would be entitled to claim this money back in court.

What you can use a deposit for

A deposit is used to cover your costs if:

  • the tenant damages the property

  • there's unpaid energy or phone bills

  • the tenant has unpaid rent when they move out

  • the property was left in a poor condition and you have cleaning bills as a result

You cannot take money from the deposit during the tenancy, and it cannot be used to pay for normal wear and tear. This includes worn carpets and furniture.

Check Property Mark’s guide to what counts as fair wear and tear

Using a tenancy deposit scheme

Unless you’re exempt, you’ll need to protect the deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme.

There are 3 schemes you can use:

You must protect the deposit within 30 working days of the tenancy beginning. If you do not, the tenant can claim compensation from you.

When you protect the deposit, you must give the tenant the following information:

  • the deposit amount

  • the date you received it

  • the date you protected it in a tenancy deposit scheme

  • which scheme the deposit is protected with

The deposit scheme will store the deposit until the tenancy ends. When it ends, you can tell the scheme any deductions you want to make. They have a resolution scheme if there’s a dispute between you and the tenant.

When you’re exempt from protecting a deposit

You do not have to use a tenancy deposit scheme if you:

  • live with the tenant

  • rent to a family member, not including cousins

  • let out supported accommodation

  • let out an agricultural or crofting tenancy

  • let out a holiday home

  • are a religious organisation

Making an inventory

An inventory lists the items in the property and says what condition they’re in.

Share this with the tenant when they move in, and ask them to sign it.

Download a sample inventory (pdf, 218 kb)

Providing the right tenancy agreement

Before the tenant moves in, you should both sign a tenancy agreement. The tenant’s rights are written in this agreement.

The type of agreement depends on whether they live in the same home as you.

If you do not live with the tenant

You must give your tenant an agreement called a private residential tenancy.

This is an open ended tenancy which the tenant can end at any time with 28 days' notice. There's no fixed term in a private residential tenancy.

You can use the Scottish Government's model tenancy agreement or write your own agreement. You cannot put anything in the agreement that takes away any of the tenant's rights.

Create a private residential tenancy agreement on If you use this model tenancy agreement, you must also give your tenant a copy of the easy read notes. Download the easy read notes on

If you write your own agreement, you must give your tenant a copy of the supporting notes. Download the supporting notes on

For more guidance check the private residential tenancy advice for landlords on

If you live with the tenant

Your tenant will have common law tenancy rights.

You can ask your tenant to sign a common law tenancy agreement if you want to have something in writing.

Download a sample common law tenancy agreement (pdf, 134 kb)

Providing an energy performance certificate

You must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) for the property. This tells any prospective tenants how energy efficient the property is.

You must give any prospective tenant a copy within 9 days if they ask for it.

Check for more guidance on EPCs

Doing repairs

You're responsible for doing repairs to the property. You cannot add anything to a tenancy agreement that says you're not responsible for repairs.

Your property must meet two legal standards of repair. These are called the repairing standard and the tolerable standard.

The repairing standard

  • the structure and exterior (for example, the walls and roof) must be in a reasonable condition

  • the property must have a fixed heating system that is plumbed in or hardwired

  • the installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity (including residual current devices), and any other type of fuel, for sanitation, heating and hot water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in good working order

  • the property must be free of lead pipes from the boundary stopcock to the kitchen tap

  • fixtures, fittings or appliances you provide (such as carpets, light fittings, white goods) must be in a reasonable state and working properly

  • furnishings you provide must be safe to use

  • there must be safe and convenient access to spaces for food storage and food preparation

  • there must be safe access to any common areas

  • any common doors must be secure and fitted with satisfactory emergency exit locks

The tolerable standard

Your property may not meet the tolerable standard and be fit to live in if:

  • it has problems with rising or penetrating damp

  • it's not structurally stable (for example, it might be subsiding)

  • there’s not enough ventilation, natural and artificial light or heating

  • there’s no suitable way for the tenant to install cooking facilities

  • the electric supply does not meet safety regulations

  • it's not insulated well enough

  • it does not have:

    • an acceptable fresh water supply

    • a sink with hot and cold water

    • an indoor toilet

    • a fixed bath or shower

    • a good drainage and sewerage system

    • a proper entrance

    • suitable smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms

You're responsible for repairing anything you provide as part of the tenancy. This could be a cooker, boiler or any furniture.

If the tenant causes damage to the property or items on the inventory, they could be responsible. You can get them to pay the cost of putting it right.

Before going to the property to inspect repairs, you must give the tenant at least 24 hours notice. If they have a private residential tenancy, they must get 48 hours notice. You must get the tenant’s permission before entering their home.

If you live with the tenant, you must get their permission before entering any areas they have exclusive possession of. Exclusive possession means rooms or areas only the tenant can use.

Keeping the property safe

Fire safety

All rented homes must have:

  • one smoke alarm in the living room or room you use most

  • one smoke alarm in every hallway or landing

  • one heat alarm in the kitchen

Each alarm should be installed on the ceiling and interlinked. Interlinked means if one goes off, they all go off.

If there's a fuel-burning appliance, like a boiler or fire, there must be a carbon monoxide detector in that room. It does not need to be interlinked.

You must provide and maintain all the alarms and detectors.

Gas and electrical safety

The property must have a residual current device that turns off the electricity if there's a fault.

You must ensure that any gas and electrical fittings, fixtures and appliances are safe.

You must arrange:

  • a gas safety check by a gas safe registered engineer at least once a year

  • an electrical safety check by a registered electrician every 5 years, or every 3 years in an HMO

When a tenant moves in, you must give them a copy of any existing gas and electrical safety record.

If safety checks are done during the tenancy, you must give the tenant a copy of the record within 28 days.

Getting more advice for landlords

Shelter Scotland is limited in the advice that we can give to landlords.

If you need more advice, visit’s guidance for landlords.

You can also get advice from:

Last updated: 4 April 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England