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Your rights if you have a short Scottish secure tenancy

You usually have a short Scottish secure tenancy if:

  • you rent your home from the council, a housing association or a housing co-operative

  • your tenancy has a fixed term of 6 months or more

The council or housing association must tell you why you have this tenancy type instead of a Scottish secure tenancy.

Why you have a short Scottish secure tenancy

You might be offered this type of tenancy if:

  • you’re homeless and in temporary accommodation

  • you or someone you live with has had an antisocial behaviour order served against you

  • you or someone you live with has been evicted because of antisocial behaviour in the last 3 years

  • you’re getting help from a support service to keep your tenancy – for example, debt advice to help with rent arrears

  • you’ve recently moved to the area for work and are looking for long-term accommodation

  • the property you live in is going to be developed

Before you move in, your landlord must give you a notice telling you:

  • why you're being offered a short Scottish secure tenancy

  • how long your tenancy is for

Challenging a short Scottish secure tenancy

If you do not think you should have this type of tenancy, you can appeal to the sheriff court. The court can make your landlord give you a Scottish secure tenancy instead.

Contact a Shelter Scotland housing adviser for help to do this.

How long your tenancy is for

A short Scottish secure tenancy has a fixed term of at least 6 months.

After the fixed term, if neither you or your landlord gives valid notice to end the tenancy, it is renewed for the same amount of time. This is called tacit relocation.

You and your landlord can also agree to extend the tenancy for a different period of time.

If you have a short Scottish secure tenancy because of antisocial behaviour

Your tenancy will be for a fixed term of 12 months. After the fixed term, your landlord can either:

  • extend your tenancy for 6 more months

  • give you 2 months’ notice before applying for a court order to evict you

  • convert your tenancy into a Scottish secure tenancy, which gives you more rights

Your landlord must make support available to help you maintain your tenancy, such as counselling or social work support.

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 procedure.

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 to allow 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 someone needs to come round 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 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.

Check your eviction rights

Check our advice on eviction if you rent from the council or a housing association.

If you’re worried about eviction or you've received a letter from the court, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Your responsibilities

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 repairs

  • 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 lead to 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.

Use our letter template to tell your landlord someone is moving in

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 council or housing association. They can refuse permission if they feel the increase is excessive.

If you want to move out

To move out when your fixed term ends, you must give your landlord written notice at least 4 weeks’ before the tenancy end date.

Add 2 days to the notice period to allow time for your landlord to receive your letter or email.

Use our letter template to end your tenancy correctly

If you want to leave before your tenancy end date, ask your landlord’s permission, and get any agreements in writing. Otherwise you may still have to pay rent until the fixed term ends.

Moving out of a joint tenancy

If you have a joint tenancy and 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.

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.

Challenging decisions your landlord makes

If your landlord refuses a request you make, they should explain why. This includes requests to:

  • sublet

  • 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 procedure. Check our advice on:

Last updated: 2 November 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England