Your rights if you have a Scottish secure tenancy
You usually have a Scottish secure tenancy if you rent your home from the council, a housing association or a housing co-operative.
Your landlord’s responsibilities
The council or housing association has legal responsibilities as your landlord.
Providing a tenancy agreement and information
You have the right to a written tenancy agreement that explains your rights and responsibilities.
Your landlord must give you information about their complaints process.
You can also ask for information about:
how your rent is set
how housing is allocated
their policies for transfers and exchanges
their policies for repairs and maintenance
Getting your views on changes
Your landlord must include you when they make decisions that affect you. For example, they must ask your views about rent increases or changes to their repairs policy.
Your landlord should have a tenant participation strategy allowing you to share your views.
Doing repairs and keeping your home safe
Your landlord is responsible for certain repairs in your home.
Some repairs must be done in a set timeframe, and you could get compensation if they take too long. This is called the Right to Repair scheme.
Use our repair checker to check:
who's responsible for the repair
how long it should take
if you can get compensation for delays
Giving notice for access
If your landlord wants to inspect or fix repair issues, you should get at least 24 hours' notice in writing.
You do not need to be given notice for repairs to shared areas, like hallways or roofs of flats.
If there’s an emergency, your landlord does not have to give you notice before coming over.
Giving notice of a rent increase
Your landlord must consult you before increasing the rent and take your views into account. They must give at least 4 weeks’ notice of a rent increase.
If you rent from a housing association and your tenancy started before September 2002, you also have the right to challenge a rent increase.
If your landlord wants to evict you
Your landlord cannot just tell you to leave. They must:
give you a valid eviction notice in writing
apply to a court for an eviction order
You do not have to move out by the date on your eviction notice. You have the right to stay in your home until the court process is finished.
You can ask the court to stop or delay your eviction, and you can negotiate with your landlord to keep your home.
If you’re worried about eviction or you've received a letter from the court, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.
Your tenancy agreement should explain your responsibilities. These include:
living in the property as your main home
paying your rent on time
taking care of the property and keeping it clean
reporting any repair problems and allowing access for repair work
not causing a nuisance to your neighbours
telling your landlord if someone moves in or out
asking permission if you want to sublet, make improvements, or run a business from your home
You may have other responsibilities too. If you break any of the terms of your tenancy agreement, your landlord could try to evict you.
If you're away from home for more than 4 weeks
Tell your landlord that you're away and how long you'll be gone for.
Otherwise, they may think you've abandoned your tenancy.
If someone else is moving in with you
Any member of your family can live with you as long as it does not cause overcrowding.
Tell your landlord in writing as soon as someone moves in, and keep evidence. This can affect their right to become a joint tenant or take over the tenancy in future.
Adding a joint tenant
Anyone over 16 can become a joint tenant after they’ve lived with you for 12 months. The 12 months only starts when you tell your landlord in writing that they’ve moved in.
Write to your landlord to add a joint tenant. They can only refuse if they have a good reason.
Joint tenants share the same rights and responsibilities. This means if one tenant cannot pay their share of rent, the other tenants have to pay it.
If you want to sublet
Write to your landlord to ask permission. Tell them:
who the new tenant will be
when they'll move in
how much deposit and rent you'll charge them
Your landlord can only refuse permission if they have a good reason. For example, they can refuse if subletting will make your home overcrowded or if you want to charge too much rent.
You have responsibilities if you sublet your home. If you want to raise your tenant’s rent, you must tell your landlord. They can refuse permission if the increase is too high.
If you want to move out
You must give your landlord at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing.
Add 2 days to the notice period to allow time for your landlord to receive your letter or email.
If you want to give less notice, you must get written permission from your landlord.
Moving out of a joint tenancy
If everyone wants to leave, you must all give notice. If only one person wants to leave, they can give their own notice. Any remaining tenants will continue the tenancy.
If your partner lives with you, they may also need to agree to end the tenancy, even if they are not a joint tenant.
Transferring or exchanging your home
You can apply for a transfer if you want to move to a new home with the same landlord.
You'll have higher priority if you need to move because your circumstances have changed. For example, if your home is no longer big enough for your family, or if you have a disability and your home is not suited to your needs.
You can also exchange your home with another council or housing association tenant anywhere in Scotland. This could help you get a new home faster.
Ask your landlord’s permission before doing this. They can only refuse if they have a good reason.
Passing your tenancy to someone else
You can sign over the tenancy to anyone who has lived with you and used the property as their main home for the past 12 months. This is called assignation.
Write to your landlord to ask permission to sign over your tenancy. They can only refuse if they have a good reason.
Who can succeed your tenancy
If you die, your tenancy can be taken over by someone else living there. This is called succession or succeeding the tenancy.
Your tenancy can be succeeded by, in order of priority:
your spouse or civil partner
your partner who has lived with you for at least 12 months
any other joint tenant
any family member who has lived with you for at least 12 months at the time of death
a carer who has lived with you for at least 12 months at the time of death, and who gave up their main home to care for you or a member of your family
A Scottish secure tenancy can only be succeeded twice in this way. After that, the tenancy will usually end.
If someone living in your home does not want to take on your tenancy, they must give the landlord 4 weeks' notice in writing. They must also leave the property within 3 months.
If you've been told you cannot succeed the tenancy
If you were living with a tenant who has died and you’ve been told you cannot take over the tenancy, you could appeal this.
Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser for help with succession.
Challenging decisions your landlord makes
If your landlord refuses a request you make, they should explain why. This includes requests to:
exchange your home
pass on your tenancy
add someone to a joint tenancy
If you disagree with your landlord's reason for refusing, you can appeal the decision at the sheriff court. You must apply within 21 days of your landlord’s reply.
Get help from a solicitor to apply. Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland.
You could get legal help for free or at a lower cost.
Making a complaint
If your landlord does something wrong, follow their complaints process. Check our advice on:
Last updated: 2 November 2023