2 Information about your property
Your landlord must make sure the property is safe. The electricity supply, plumbing, water and heating systems should all be in good condition. If you have any concerns about the safety of any item in the property, you should speak with the landlord. It is important that you do not move into the property until the landlord has dealt properly with your concerns.
2.1 Gas safety
If your property has a gas supply, your landlord must arrange for an annual Landlord Gas Safety Record to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer. You should receive a copy of this certificate. If your landlord does not provide you with a safety certificate you can contact the Health and Safety Executive for advice (see section 5 - further advice and support).
If you know that your gas installations or pipework are defective, you must tell your landlord or letting agent. You must never use appliances that are condemned or unsafe.
2.2 Electrical safety
Your landlord, in accordance with the Repairing Standard for private rented properties (see section 2.6), must ensure that the electrical installation and appliances provided with the property are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
The Electrical Safety Council suggest that the best way for landlords to comply with this is by having a registered electrician carry out an inspection and test of the electrical installation (known as an Electrical Installation Condition Report) and Portable Appliance Testing at suitable intervals. Speak with your landlord if you have any concerns about electrical safety as they should be able to provide you with information on the latest safety inspection. Alternatively, advice and guidance is available on the Health and Safety Executive website (see section 5 - further advice and support).
2.3 Energy Performance Certificate
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) shows a property's energy efficiency. It also highlights potential improvements that could save energy. On request, landlords must give prospective tenants (i.e. new tenants, not tenants who are simply renewing a lease) an EPC. However, if you rent only a single room in a larger property, your landlord need not provide an EPC.
When advertising a property for rent, landlords must state its energy efficiency rating.
You can download a sample EPC from the Scottish Government website: www.scotland.gov.uk/tenant/info/forms
2.4 Council Tax
Your tenancy agreement will probably set out who is responsible to paying council tax. If you are unsure your local council should be able to tell you about your responsibilities for council tax and give you information on the current rates. If you have signed a tenancy agreement for a room and not the entire property, check with your landlord if you are responsible for paying council tax.
If the property is occupied entirely by full-time students, you are exempt from council tax. You must apply to your local council’s Revenues and Benefits department for your exemption.
2.5 Number of people who may live at the property
Only those allowed to live at a property by the tenancy agreement should occupy it. If too many people live there, meaning it is overcrowded, the council may take steps to prevent the overcrowding continuing.
Houses or flats occupied by three or more unrelated persons are called houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). Your local council will have told your landlord the maximum number of people allowed in an HMO.
How is 'overcrowding' defined?
The number of people who may live in a property depends on the number and size of the rooms, and the characteristics of the people. Living rooms and bedrooms are counted as rooms, but not the kitchen or bathroom. There is a room standard and a space standard.
The room standard is broken when people of opposite sexes, who are not living together as a couple, have to sleep in the same room. This does not apply to children under 10.
The number of people of the same sex who can sleep in one room is limited by the size of the room.
The space standard limits the number of people who can occupy a property, relative to both the number and the floor area of the rooms available as sleeping accommodation.
You can get more information on overcrowding from a Shelter Scotland advice centre, Citizens Advice or your local council.
2.6 Repairing Standard
Your landlord must carry out a pre-tenancy check of your property to identify work required to meet the Repairing Standard (described below) and notify you of any such work. Your landlord also has a duty to repair and maintain your property from the tenancy start date and throughout the tenancy. This includes a duty to make good any damage caused by doing this work. On becoming aware of a defect, your landlord must complete the work within a reasonable time.
A privately rented property must meet the Repairing Standard as follows:
- The property must be wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for people to live in.
- The structure and exterior (including drains, gutters and external pipes) must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
- Installations for supplying water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
- Any fixtures, fittings and appliances that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
- Any furnishings that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.
- The property must have a satisfactory way of detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire.
If, after notification of any problem, the problem persists, has not been attended to satisfactorily or if there is disagreement about whether or not there is a problem, then you have the right to refer the matter to the Private Rented Housing Panel (see section 5 - further advice and support). The Private Rented Housing Panel has power to require your landlord to carry out work necessary to meet the Repairing Standard.
Repairs and maintenance - access
You must give your landlord reasonable access to the property to do repairs and maintenance. If you fail to agree a suitable time, your landlord must give you at least 24 hours' written notice that they intend to enter the property unless they need to do an emergency repair.
An inventory is a list of everything in the property that you are renting (for example, furniture, carpets and curtains, kitchenware) and its condition.
An inventory can help avoid a dispute over your deposit when you move out because it proves what state the property was in when you moved in. In particular, it can help if a dispute is lodged with a tenancy deposit scheme (see section 4.5).
It is in your landlord's interest to provide an inventory because if you break or damage anything while you are living there, the inventory shows it was not broken before you moved in. On the other hand, if anything in the property is already damaged, the inventory proves you did not do it.
Your landlord or letting agent should give you an inventory. If they have not done so by the time you move in, ask for one.
In summary, here are the key things you should do:
- Check the inventory before you sign it - make a note of anything damaged, broken or worn. Make sure everything in the property is listed on the inventory, and that it lists nothing you cannot find in the property.
- Make sure you and your landlord sign the inventory - once you are sure the inventory is correct, both you and your landlord or letting agent should sign it.
- Take photos, then you can prove the state of the property when you moved in.
- Store the inventory and your photos in a place where you can find them in case you need to rely on them to get your deposit back.
2.8 Fire safety
By law, your landlord must provide fire-detection equipment (e.g. a smoke alarm) for your property. You can find out more about fire safety requirements for privately rented properties on the Scottish Government website: www.scotland.gov.uk/tenant/info/forms
Your landlord also has a general duty to keep your property fit for you to live in and to ensure it does not endanger your health. This includes ensuring there are no fire or other hazards in your home, such as loose wiring or dangerous stairs.
If your landlord refuses to provide a fire-detection alarm or you feel there are fire risks in your property, you can take action to make sure they put things right. Either you can apply to the Private Rented Housing Panel (see section 5 - further advice and support ) or contact your local council's environmental health department.
Landlords of HMOs (see section 3.2) must ensure there are adequate fire precautions and escape routes.
The Scottish Government has produced a leaflet on fire safety in the home which is available at: www.scotland.gov.uk/tenant/info/forms