Scottish tenants need to know their rights


IF you rent your home from a private landlord or real estate agent, make sure you know your rights.

This is the message from the Scottish Government after research shows that many private tenants are unaware of the rights that protect them.

Across Scotland there are 340,000 households in the private rental sector, 14 per cent of Scottish households, who rent their homes from a private landlord or letting agent.

But many are unaware of their current tenure or tenure rights.

There are two main types of tenancy in Scotland:

A private residential tenure – is indefinite and will last until you want to leave the rental property or the landlord uses grounds for eviction.

A short-term secured tenure – is for a fixed period but automatically renews when it runs out.

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What kind of tenure do you have?

The Scottish Government is involved in RentBetter, a three-year research program run by Indigo House on private renting in Scotland. Nearly 1,000 private tenants were interviewed and in their first wave of findings, it was revealed that nearly a quarter of Scots who rent would not confidently challenge their landlord about their concerns.

Most renters feel safe in their home, regardless of the type of tenancy or their knowledge of their rights. The most important aspects of security from a tenant perspective are affordability, trust in the landlord, and secure employment.

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Although many tenants were positive about their rental experience, some tenants reported problems.

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• Families were more likely to have had trouble getting the repairs they needed, accounting for 39% of people who had recent trouble getting repairs done.

• Single non-retirees were a third of those who had had recent problems with a landlord or leasing agent who showed up at the property unannounced.

• Those who moved into their property more recently were more likely to have had recent problems with the condition of the property.

• More than 90% of those who have The most recent issues or problems were renters who lived in urban areas.

Only about one in five tenants who had one of the disputes listed above had sought help or advice, and less than a third (32%) were aware of the Magistrate Court. Less than one percent of renters had taken a landlord to Housing Trial Court.

• Verify that the landlord and/or rental agent are registered to rent a property to ensure they are qualified to do so and comply with the law.

• Landlords must give you 3 months’ notice of rent increases and can only do so once every 12 months (plus the right to contest an unfair rent increase).*

• Landlords must make repairs during the term of the lease.

• You cannot be evicted without reason, the landlords must go through a legal process.

• Illegal eviction is a criminal offense and the coronavirus does not change this. An illegal eviction is when someone, who does not have the legal right to force you out, forces you to leave your home. This may include your landlord if you do not have an eviction order from the District Court.

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*These rights apply to individuals with a private residential tenancy that began on or after 1St. December 2017.

Problem Areas for Tenants

National Foundation

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe, quality housing, and the more informed tenants are about their rights, the more secure they will feel.

For those living in the private rental sector, it’s important for everyone to make sure they’re up to date on their rental rights, so they feel more confident to challenge poor or illegal practices if a situation arises.

To learn more about private tenant rights and to seek further support, visit:


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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