Private residential tenancy: information for tenants
Guidance for private sector tenants on the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016.
Private residential tenancies
Any new tenancy you enter into on or after 1 December 2017 will be a private residential tenancy as long as:
- the property is let to you as a separate dwelling. A property can still be considered a separate dwelling even if some of the core facilities are shared with other tenants. For example, if a tenant rents only a bedroom in a flat, but has a right to use a shared bathroom and kitchen, the property will be treated as a separate dwelling because the tenant has access to the range of facilities required for it to be regarded as a separate dwelling
- you live in it as your only or main home
- the tenancy isn't excluded under schedule 1 of the 2016 Act
Even if your tenancy agreement is called something different, you will have all the protections of a private residential tenancy listed in this guide.
Your landlord must provide you with the written terms of your tenancy and the relevant set of notes
Your landlord must give you a written copy of all of the terms of your tenancy along with either the 'Easy-read notes for the Scottish Government model tenancy agreement' or the 'Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Terms Supporting Notes'. These can be electronic documents instead of being printed on paper.
If you're a new tenant, your landlord has to give you these documents before the end of the day on which the tenancy starts.
If you already live in the property under a different type of agreement, your landlord has to give you the document within 28 days of the tenancy becoming a private residential tenancy. For example, if you're initially using the let property as your second home during the week while working away from your main home, you're likely to have a common law tenancy as the let property is not your only or principal home. If the let property later becomes your only or principal home, you will have all the protections of a private residential tenancy from the day your circumstances changed and your landlord must give you the written terms of your private residential tenancy and the notes within 28 days of that change.
If the terms of the tenancy change after it's started, your landlord must give you a document explaining the updated terms of the tenancy within 28 days of the change coming into effect. For example, if the written terms of your tenancy state that pets are not permitted in the let property and your landlord subsequently agrees that you can keep a dog, this would be a change to a term of your tenancy and your landlord would be required to provide you with a document outlining this change.
You and your landlord can agree to 'sign' the tenancy agreement by typing your names in the electronic document and sending it by email if you want to. If you and your landlord don't want to do this, you can agree to sign a paper copy of the tenancy agreement instead.
Your landlord must provide you with the relevant set of notes which help explain your tenancy terms and your rights and responsibilities
By law, your landlord must provide you with either the 'Easy read notes for the Scottish Government model tenancy agreement' or the 'Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Terms Supporting Notes'. These notes will help you to understand the terms of your tenancy and your rights and responsibilities during your tenancy.
The notes you will be given will depend on your tenancy agreement. The Scottish Government has created a Model Private Residential Tenancy Agreement which landlords can use for private residential tenancies. If your landlord uses this model to create your tenancy, they must give you the 'Easy Read Notes for the Scottish Government Model Private Residential Tenancy Agreement'. These notes explain in plain language all of the standard tenancy terms in your tenancy agreement.
Your landlord does not have to use the model agreement to create your tenancy, they can use a different tenancy agreement as long as it complies with the law. If your landlord has used a different tenancy agreement, the notes they must give you are the 'Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Terms Supporting Notes'. These notes tell you about the nine tenancy terms your landlord has to include in your tenancy agreement by law and other important housing information that you should know about your tenancy.
If you need information about any terms in your tenancy agreement, you may want to discuss them with your landlord, or contact the advice organisations in the section below on Sources of advice and support.
First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber)
You can make an application to the First-tier Tribunal if your landlord does not give you:
- a written copy of all the terms of your tenancy
- the correct set of notes to accompany your written tenancy terms
- a document explaining any updated terms of your tenancy within 28 days of the change
Before you can apply to the Tribunal, you have to give your landlord 28 days' notice of your intention to make an application to the Tribunal. You must use the correct form to give your landlord notice – it's called a 'Tenant's notification to a landlord of a referral to the First-tier Tribunal for failure to supply in writing all tenancy terms and/or any other specified information'.
You can use the Scottish Government’s ‘Tell your landlord you want to go to the Tribunal’ tool to create this notice, which you can then download and give to your landlord.
The notice period begins on the later of:
- the day your landlord receives the notice from you
- the day after the deadline by which your landlord should have given you the information
If the First-tier Tribunal agrees with you, it may order your landlord to pay you up to:
- three months' rent if they haven't provided tenancy terms or haven't provided the correct set of notes relating to your tenancy
- six months' rent if they haven't provided you with both of these things.
If your landlord isn't registered
If the First-tier Tribunal discovers that your landlord is unregistered, they have to report it to the local council for the area the property is located in. Your landlord is registered if they are entered in the Scottish Landlord Register prepared and maintained by the local council for the purposes of Part 8 of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004.
The Tribunal has to pass your landlord's name, their address and the address of the let property to the local council so they can investigate it.
Renting out property without being registered with the council is a criminal offence and your landlord can be served with a Rent Penalty Notice (which prevents them from charging you rent) or fined up to £50,000 if found guilty.
You can check whether your landlord or a property is registered using the Public Search facility on the Scottish Landlord Register. If your search is unsuccessful, please contact the relevant council for more information.
If you want to, you and your landlord can agree to contact each other by email about anything to do with your tenancy. If you agree to this, your landlord can send you important notices by email, as well as sending you emails about everyday things. This means that your landlord can tell you by email if your rent is going up, or if your tenancy is being brought to an end.
It is important to think carefully about whether you want to communicate with your landlord by email. If you agree to this, make sure that your landlord always has the email address you are currently using. This will help to make sure you don't miss important notices from your landlord.
If you don't want your landlord to contact you by email, you do not have to agree to this.
Under a private residential tenancy you also have new responsibilities relating to:
- letting your landlord repair the property
- people living with you
Access for repairs
If your landlord needs access to the property you have to give them reasonable access. This includes letting them:
- carry out work when they need to or are allowed to
- inspect the property to see if any work is needed
- carry out a valuation of the property
If your landlord needs to access the property they should always give you at least 48 hours' notice, unless they need access urgently to carry out work or assess what work they are obliged or entitled to do. Your landlord should not enter the property without your consent, except in an emergency.
Residents living in the property
Unless your landlord agrees in writing, you must not:
- sublet the property (rent it out to someone else)
- take in a lodger
- give up your tenancy to someone else
If you have other people living with you in the property — like a partner, family member or carer — you must let your landlord know.
You have to tell them in writing about any person who is:
- aged 16 or over
- not a joint tenant
- living with you in the property as their only or main home
You must tell your landlord the person's name and their relationship to you. You also have to let them know if that person moves out.
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