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.
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.
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 mygov.scot. 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 gov.scot.
If you write your own agreement, you must give your tenant a copy of the supporting notes. Download the supporting notes on gov.scot.
For more guidance check the private residential tenancy advice for landlords on gov.scot.
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.
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 property must be wind and watertight
the structure and exterior (for example, the walls and roof) must be in a reasonable condition
the internal and external installations supplying water, gas, electricity, sanitation, heating and hot water must be in a reasonable state and working properly
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
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
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 checks
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 mygov.scot’s guidance for landlords.
You can also get advice from:
Last updated: 20 January 2023