Information

Tenant Information Packs: Analysis of Consultation Responses

An analysis of views expressed during the consultation on tenant information packs, including views on what information should be contained within the pack and how it should be presented and operate in practice.


ANNEX 3: DRAFT TENANT INFORMATION PACK

CHECKLIST
Property address:
Landlord name/address/registration no:
Tenancy period:

It is a legal requirement that the following documents must be provided no later than the date on which the assured tenancy commences -
Tenancy Agreement
AT5 Form (for short assured tenancies only)
Gas Safety Certificate (if applicable)
Energy Performance Certificate
Repairing Standard information
'Tenant Information Pack' (see attached)

Declaration

I can confirm that I have received all of the above mentioned documents.
Tenant signature:
Date:

Landlord signature:
Date:

TENANT INFORMATION PACK
CONTENTS
Section 1: Types of Tenancies

1.1 Short Assured Tenancy
1.2 Assured Tenancy
1.3 Tenancy Agreements
1.4 Ending the Tenancy

Section 2: Information about the Property
2.1 Gas safety
2.2 Electrical safety
2.3 Energy Performance Certificate
2.4 Council tax information
2.5 Permitted level of occupancy
2.6 Repairing Standard
2.7 Inventories

Section 3: Landlord details
3.1 Landlord registration
3.2 HMO licensing

Section 4: Rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords
4.1 Tenants main responsibilities
4.2 Landlords main responsibilities
4.3 Harassment and unlawful eviction
4.4 Tenancy deposit schemes
4.5 Tenant's obligations under antisocial behaviour legislation

Section 5: Key contacts for help and advice

Section 1: Types of tenancies

Your rights in private rented accommodation will depend on the type of tenancy agreement that exists between you and your landlord. The following descriptions provide a broad set of rules for each of the main tenancies. Where there is any doubt, you must obtain legal advice to be certain of the type of agreement that you have signed, or are being asking to sign.

1.1 Short Assured Tenancy

The most common types of agreements in the private sector are Short Assured Tenancies and this type of tenancy has been available since 2 January 1989. The landlord must give a special notice (called an AT5 Notice) before the lease is signed, or before the tenant moves in, stating it is a Short Assured Tenancy. The initial let must be for a minimum of six months, otherwise it is not a Short Assured Tenancy. However, Short Assured Tenancies could be for a longer period and you may want to discuss this with your landlord to establish whether greater flexibility suits both parties.

A sample of an AT5 form can be found on the Scottish Government website or by clicking on this link - sample AT5 form.

1.2 Assured Tenancy

If you rent your home from a private landlord or letting agent then you will probably have an assured tenancy if -

  • Your tenancy started after 2 January 1989
  • Before the tenancy started, you were not given a notice (an AT5 form) stating that it was to be a short assured tenancy
  • The place where you live is rented as a home
  • It is your only or main home.

Assured tenants have security of tenure, which means that the landlord must get a court order for possession before the tenant can be made to leave. The grounds for possession are detailed below.

Grounds for repossession

There are 17 grounds on which possession might be obtained. Full details of these grounds and the procedure that the landlord must follow can be found on the Scottish Government website.

Grounds 1 to 8 are mandatory grounds - that is if they are established the sheriff must grant an order for possession.

Grounds 9 to 17 are discretionary grounds - that is even if they are established the sheriff will grant an order for possession only if he believes it is reasonable to do so.

1.3 Tenancy Agreement

The Tenancy Agreement must be a written document and the terms of the agreement should be agreed between the landlord and the tenant before the tenant signs the agreement. An example of a model tenancy agreement can be found on the Scottish Government website [insert web link here].

In general, the tenancy agreement should include the following:

  • The name and address of the landlord and/or agent
  • The landlords registration number
  • The length of the tenancy, with start and end dates
  • When the rent is due, how it should be paid and if the rent is to be increased during the tenancy
  • How much the deposit is to be and where it will be held e.g. tenancy deposit scheme
  • Who is responsible for internal decoration and internal and external repairs and maintenance
  • Any condition or restrictions on the use of the property, for example about pets, guests or smoking.

1.4 Ending the Tenancy

Your tenancy agreement will state how long you will be renting the property for, for example, six months or a year. At the end of that time, your tenancy will automatically renew itself unless:

  • your landlord gives you written notice that they want you to leave the property or
  • you give the landlord written notice that you want to leave at the end of the tenancy.

If neither you nor your landlord has given notice, your tenancy will renew itself. This will be for the same length of time, unless your tenancy agreement says that it will be for a different period.

For example, your tenancy agreement might say 'the property is let for a period of six months and then monthly thereafter'. This would mean that your tenancy agreement would be for six months and that it could renew itself one month at a time after that. If the tenancy was for more than a year, it can only renew itself for a year. There is no need for a new AT5 each time the tenancy renews itself.

When the landlord wants you to leave

The Landlord can give notice in writing at least two months before the end of the initial period or at any time thereafter that possession of the property will be required. Notices can be served during the tenancy to coincide with the agreed termination date. If you decide not to vacate the property at this time your Landlord will have to go to Court to recover possession.

To gain possession at the end of a Short Assured Tenancy, the Landlord must serve you with the following Notices:

Breach of tenancy

If, during the term of the tenancy, you are in breach of any terms of the tenancy, possession can be sought using grounds for possession.

If you receive a notice to quit or notice of proceedings (AT6) DO NOT IGNORE IT. Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or your council's local housing office who will be able to give you further advice and assistance on all your housing options.

If You Want To Leave

Before you can leave, you must give your landlord written notice. If you want to leave before your tenancy has run out or you are in a period when it has renewed itself, you will need to check if you can arrange to leave before the end of the tenancy. It should state on your tenancy agreement whether you can do this and if so, how much notice you have to give.

Even if this is not mentioned on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to come to an arrangement with your landlord. If you cannot reach an arrangement with your landlord, you will have to give notice stating that you wish to leave when the tenancy runs out.

The minimum notice you have to give is:

  • 40 days if your tenancy is for six months or longer
  • 28 days if your tenancy is continuing on a month to month basis after the original period has expired.

If you leave the property without giving notice or before your notice has run out, you will still be responsible for the property and for any rent that you are due to pay. If your landlord has to take any legal action, you could also be responsible for any costs that they have to pay.

Section 2: Information about the Property

Your landlord has a responsibility in terms of making sure that the accommodation is safe. The electricity supply, plumbing, water and heating systems should all be in good condition. If you have any concerns regards the safety of any item in the property then you should speak with the landlord, it is important that you do not move into the accommodation until these concerns have been addressed.

2.1 Gas Safety

If your property has a gas supply your landlord must arrange for an annual Landlord's Gas Safety Check to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and give you a copy of the gas safety certificate. If your landlord does not have a current safety certificate you can contact the Health and Safety Executive at www.hse.gov.uk/contact/ for advice (contact details in section 5).

If you know that your gas installations or pipe work is defective you must let your landlord or agent know. You must never use appliances that are condemned or unsafe.

2.2 Electrical Safety

Your landlord must make sure electrical wiring and electrical appliances in your property are safe to use. Responsible landlords will carry out Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on appliances and have a current electrical safety certificate from an approved contractor.

Consumer Focus Scotland has produced an information leaflet for tenants which provides helpful tips. The leaflet is available at -
www.consumerfocus.org.uk/scotland/publications/consumerguides

2.3 Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Energy performance certificates were introduced on 4 January 2009, which aims to improve the energy performance of new and existing buildings. Landlords must provide tenants with a copy of the EPC if the tenancy started after 4 January 2009.

An EPC provides an energy rating for the property and makes simple, cost-effective recommendations for ways in which its efficiency could be improved, to help save energy, reduce bills and cut carbon dioxide emissions. The certificate is valid for ten years. Further information can be found on the Scottish Government website -
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/homeinfo/appbody

2.4 Council Tax

Most tenants will have to pay council tax charges in the property they rent. A landlord should be able to tell you about your responsibilities for council tax charges and give you information on the current rates. If a property is occupied entirely by students then they are exempt from paying Council tax. Students must apply to Revenues and Benefits for their exemption.

2.5 Permitted level of occupancy

Overcrowding is a problem in some parts of the private rented sector, as well as having detrimental effects on your health and wellbeing, it can also relate to adverse effects on your neighbours and lead to wider social problems in the community.

Local authorities have some powers and duties in relation to overcrowded houses and their occupants, including carrying out inspections to identify overcrowded houses.

If you live within an HMO the local authority will have advised your landlord of the maximum number of occupants permitted in the house.

Part VII of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987, defines that a house is overcrowded if it fails either of two tests - the room standard and the space standard.

The room standard is contravened when two people of opposite sexes, who are not living as husband and wife, have to sleep in the same room. This does not apply to children under 10. The rooms regarded as sleeping accommodation are defined as being 'of a type normally used in the locality either as a bedroom or living room'.

The space standard sets limits on the number of people who can occupy a house, relative to both the number and floor area of the rooms available as sleeping accommodation. For this purpose, children aged at least one but less than 10 count as half of a person, while children under the age of one do not count at all. Rooms of less than 50 square feet are not taken into account. The prescribed numbers are set out in tables. For example, four rooms may be occupied by no more than 7.5 persons, but that number could be lower depending on the size of the rooms.

You should take reasonable steps to ensure that the property you are living in does not become overcrowded. If you are concerned about overcrowding, you should seek advice from your landlord or contact your local authority housing office.

2.6 Repairing Standard

A landlord has a duty to repair and maintain the property at the start of the tenancy and at all times during the tenancy, including a duty to make good any damage caused by carrying out this work. Upon notification or awareness of a defect, the landlord must complete the work within a reasonable time.

A private rented property must meet the repairing standard as follows:

  • The house is wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation
  • The structure and exterior of the house (including drains, gutters and external pipes) are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • This installations in the house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • Any fixtures, fittings and appliances provided by the landlord under the tenancy are in a reasonable state of repair and are in proper working order
  • Any furnishings provided by the landlord under the tenancy are capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed
  • The house has satisfactory provision for detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire

The landlord must, on or before the start of the tenancy, provide the tenant with written information about the effect of the Repairing Standard in relation to the tenancy. Tenants should also be provided with information on how to approach the Private Rented Housing Panel and in what circumstances. Further information can be found here -
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/privaterent/landlords/physical/rules/repairing

Repairs and Maintenance

The tenant must give the landlord reasonable access to the property but failing mutual agreement, the landlord must give at least 24 hours' advance notice in writing of their intention to enter the property - except where an emergency repair is required.

2.7 Inventories

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. It's in your landlord's interest to provide an inventory, because if you break or damage anything while you are living there, the inventory shows that it wasn't broken before you moved in. On the other hand, if anything in the property is already damaged, the inventory proves that you didn't do it.

Your landlord or letting agent should supply you with an inventory. If they haven't done so by the time you move in, ask for one.

If you aren't given an inventory, you can make one yourself and get an independent witness who doesn't live in the property to sign it. You could also take photos of the property when you move in.

Section 3: Information about the Landlord

3.1 Landlords details

Landlord Registration

All private landlords must register with their local authority to ensure that they are a "fit and proper person" to let property. It is an offence to let any house without being registered. From 31 August 2011 the maximum fine for operating as an unregistered landlord was increased to £50,000.

You can check online at www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk to see if your landlord is registered or alternatively you should contact your local authority.

Further information can be found here -
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/privaterent/landlords/registration

3.2 HMO licensing

An HMO (house in multiple occupation) is a property that is shared by three or more tenants who aren't members of the same family. HMO landlords must have a licence from the local authority. This ensures that the property is managed properly and meets certain basic safety standards. Examples of HMOs include hostels, refuges, shared flats and bedsits. You can find out more by clicking on the following link -
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Built-Environment/Housing/privaterent/government/hmo

If you want to find out if a landlord is registered or if you think the standards are not being met then you can contact your local authority. They require to keep a register of all the licensed landlords in the area.

Section 4: Rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords

4.1 Tenants main responsibilities

As a private tenant, you have certain responsibilities connected with your occupation of the property. These will generally be detailed in your tenancy agreement but the following list summarises the fundamental responsibilities that will apply to most tenancies.

  • To occupy the property as your principal home
  • To pay your rent in full and on time
  • Not to cause damage to the property, fixtures, fittings or furniture belonging to the landlord or to allow members of your household or visitors to do so
  • To consult your landlord about any proposals to make alterations to the property. Written permission should be obtained.
  • To report the need for any repairs to the landlord
  • Not to cause disturbance, nuisance or annoyance to neighbours or to allow your visitors to do so
  • To allow the landlord access to the property for the purpose of inspections or carrying out repairs when sufficient notice has been given.
  • To obtain written permission form your landlord if you intend to sublet or take in a lodger
  • To give proper notice to your landlord when you wish to leave the property
  • Maintain any communal areas
  • Insuring your personal property
  • Present bins for collection

4.2 Landlords main responsibilities

  • Supply the tenant with their name and address
  • Give the tenant written conditions of the tenancy
  • A rent book or a receipt for any rent payments
  • Respect the tenant's right to peace and quiet in the home
  • Give proper written notice before accessing the property
  • The gas, electricity and furniture safety requirements are met in the accommodation
  • Maintain the structure and outside of the property
  • Follow the correct legal procedures if they want tenants to leave
  • Insure the property
  • To register with their local authority
  • Have an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • Carry out annual gas safety checks where applicable
  • Inform you about the function of the Private Rented Housing Panel
  • Allow disabled adaptations, within reason
  • Ensure the property meets the Repairing Standard
  • Provide the tenant with a Tenant Information Pack

4.3 Harassment and unlawful eviction

As a tenant of a privately let residential property, the law protects you against harassment and unlawful eviction. It does this in two ways:

  • by making harassment and unlawful eviction criminal offences
  • by enabling someone who is harassed or evicted to claim damages through the courts.

The law against harassment applies to all people living in residential property. This means that you are protected by the law whether you have a full tenancy or some other right of occupation or occupancy agreement. It applies if your landlord personally harasses or evicts you unlawfully, or if somebody else does it on his or her behalf.

The Scottish Government Booklet 'Protection against Illegal Eviction and Harassment' provides full details of the rights of private tenants in this area and can be accessed by clicking on the following link -
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/12/19112519/2

If your landlord attempts to physically remove you from the property, he is committing a criminal offence, regardless of the circumstances. Landlords must follow the formal legal process detailed in this document to recover possession of their property and if the tenant does not leave voluntarily, the landlord must obtain Decree for Eviction from the Sheriff Court. If the landlord obtains a Decree, the actual eviction will be undertaken by Sheriff Officers, not the landlord or agents acting on their behalf.

If your landlord has physically removed you from your rented home, you should report the matter to the Police.

4.4 Tenancy Deposit Schemes

A tenancy deposit scheme is a scheme designed to protect tenant's deposits by placing them with an independent third party. Deposits are safeguarded by a scheme until they fall to be repaid at the end of the tenancy.

*Insert further details of the scheme(s) once approved.

4.5 Tenant's obligations under antisocial behaviour legislation

Antisocial Behaviour is defined as behaviour which causes or is likely to cause fear, alarm or distress. Everyone has the right to live safely and peacefully without worrying about being bothered or harassed. Where tenants act in a way which causes nuisance or annoyance and stops people from enjoying the peaceful occupation of their home, this may be considered as Antisocial Behaviour. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Persistent, excessive noise
  • Verbal or physical abuse of neighbours
  • Racial or sexual harassment
  • Vandalism in the neighbourhood or damaging neighbours' property
  • The sale of drugs or drug abuse.

Tenants are also responsible for the behaviour of their family or friends visiting their home. A landlord may take action against the tenant if they have broken a clause in the tenancy agreement relating to antisocial behaviour.

If you are affected by the antisocial behaviour of others it is recommended that you keep a written record of the incidents. Depending on the seriousness of the situation and how badly it affects you, you should contact the police or your nearest Citizen Advice organisation. If you require further information please do not hesitate to contact the Antisocial Behaviour Team at your local authority.

Section 5: Key contacts for help and advice

Citizens Advice Scotland
http://www.cas.org.uk/

Consumer Focus Scotland

Royal Exchange House
100 Queen Street
Glasgow
G1 3DN
Tel: 0141 226 5261
www.consumerfocus.org.uk/scotland/

CORGI
Council for Registered Gas Installers
Helpline: 01256 372300
www.corgiservices.com/

Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
Gas Safety Advice Line: 0800 300363
www.hse.gov.uk/contact/

OFGEM

Office of Gas and Electricity Markets
Regents Court
70 West Regent Street
Glasgow G2 2QZ

PRHP

Private Rented Housing Panel
3rd Floor, 140 West Campbell Street
Glasgow G2 4TZ
Tel: 0141 572 1170
www.prhpscotland.gov.uk

Scottish Association of Landlords

22 Forth Street
Edinburgh
EH1 3LH
Tel: 0131 270 4774
www.scottishlandlords.com

Shelter
Free advice helpline: 0808 800 4444
www.scotland.shelter.org.uk/

Contact

Email: Alix Rosenberg

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