Legalities in Scotland
Your responsibilities as a landlord and those of the tenant including the lowdown on Corgis, council tax, and HMOs
This section provides a brief resume of your legal responsibilities as a landlord. Links to more detailed information and references for this page are detailed below.
- Keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters, and external pipes.
- Keeping in repair and proper working order the installations for the supply of water, gas, and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, and for heating rooms and heating water)
- Keeping the property wind- and water-tight and reasonably fit for human habitation
- Providing a rent book if statute so requires (e.g. where the rent is paid weekly)
- Providing the students with your full name and address.
- Providing them with a copy of the valid current Gas Safety Certificate - www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
- Providing them with a copy of the electrical certificates. NICEIC site (Electrical safety standard organisation) www.niceic.org.uk
- Allowing the exclusive possession of their accommodation
- You should give prior warning as agreed in the Tenancy Agreement (normally at least 24 hours) to the tenant when you wish to enter the property to carry out legitimate maintenance checks and repairs.
- Registering with the Local Authority, where the property is located, who must be satisfied that the landlord is “fit and proper”. Under the registration scheme there are penalties for landlords who are not deemed to be taking sufficient action to deal with the antisocial behaviour of their tenants.
- From 3rd September 2007, complying with the Statutory Repairing Standard brought in by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. To meet the Repairing Standard, the landlord has to ensure that the property is wind and water tight and reasonably fit for human habitation; that the structural and exterior of the house are in reasonable repair and proper working order, considering its age and locality; and that the installations for the supply of services, fixtures, fittings, appliances and furnishings are in reasonable repair and proper working order. More specifically, there has to be at least one functioning smoke alarm on each floor and, ideally, these should be mains powered.
- Acting in a "Tenant-like manner". This means they should perform the smaller tasks around the house such as mending the electric light when it fuses, unblocking the sink when blocked with waste, clean the windows when necessary.
- Use the property with reasonable care - if they do not then they are responsible for the necessary repairs.
- Refuse collection! They are responsible for putting out the wheelie bin (in areas where schemes exist)- and to bring it back in again.
- Securing the property when they go away - i.e./ they must lock all doors and windows!
- Being reasonable about noise and parties
- Reporting all repairs needed to you (preferably in writing). The landlord's responsibility to repair begins only when he/she are aware of the disrepair. You, as landlord, are responsible to take remedial action within a reasonable period of time (dependant upon the nature of the disrepair)
If you (the landlord) don't fulfil your obligations…
If you don't carry out repairs that are your responsibility the tenant will probably contact their student's union, accommodation department at the University or a law centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. They will have a number of legal options open to them.
If they (the tenant) don't fulfil their obligations…
If the tenants don't fulfil their obligations e.g. paying rent, maintaining standards, Citizens advice Bureau or legal advice should be sought.
Frequently Asked Questions
Further information on these and other matters can be found on the Landlord-Law Online web-site at www.landlordlaw.co.uk.
It is mandatory for all HMOs to be licensed. To be classified as a licensable HMO the accommodation must be the only or principal residence of three or more unrelated occupiers. Please note that a child who is an owner-occupier is not included when counting the occupiers (i.e. a flat occupied by an owner and two tenants is not classed as an HMO).
Students in accommodation that is an HMO in term time are treated as being solely or principally resident there in order to calculate the number of occupiers of an HMO.
The responsibility for implementing the licensing scheme rests with local authorities. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen City Councils websites are at:
Letting Agents - each town and city will have a selection of letting agents who will let and manage your property normally in exchange for a fixed fee and a percentage of the rent
The letting agency association web site - www.arla.co.uk
If you are viewing this section then you no doubt have serious problems and the best advice would be to seek professional assistance. The law varies depending on the type of tenancy you have. If you are a student landlord you will no doubt have an Short Assured Tenancy agreement with your tenant. At the end of the period, the landlord has absolute right to repossession, as long as the correct notices have been served and the correct procedures have been followed.
If the tenant refuses to leave or is refusing to pay rent, he or she can only be removed with a court order but certain procedures have to be followed. Please note that force or harassment is not an option and may lead to prosecution.