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How to deal with difficult tenants in Scotland

This information only applies in Scotland.

Problem tenants are a very real risk when it comes to renting property. What can you do if things go wrong and you need to protect your investment? Read this guide for more information on some of the options available in Scotland for dealing with difficult tenants.

It’s not uncommon for tenants to experience financial troubles and fall behind on their rent. In the first instance, it’s a good idea to try to come to an arrangement with the tenant about how the arrears will be paid back.

Landlords can end a tenancy based on rent arrears if the tenant has been in arrears for at least 3 consecutive months and a total of at least one month’s rent is owed on the day of the eviction hearing. 

Changes to the condition of rented property due to fair wear and tear are inevitable. However, if your tenant has caused damage, you may be entitled to end the tenancy and claim deductions from the deposit.

The amount claimed from the deposit must be reasonable, and a landlord is not entitled to benefit from an improvement to the property at the tenant’s expense. It’s a good idea to have a record of the state of the property and furniture before the tenancy started, backed up by evidence such as receipts and dated photos.

If you receive a complaint about a tenant’s antisocial behaviour, you should keep a record of the steps you take to try to resolve it. These steps can include discussions with the tenant, or sending them a letter asking them to behave more appropriately. Any conclusions or agreements you reach with the tenant should be put in writing.

If complaints continue, and the tenant’s behaviour is an annoyance or nuisance, causing alarm or considered harassment, you could be entitled to evict them. The local council can also take action.

The type of tenancy determines how it must be terminated.

If it’s a private residential tenancy, you must give the tenant a notice to leave. You’ll either have to give the tenant 28 or 84 days’ notice, depending on the reasons you’re relying on to end the tenancy and how long they’ve lived in the property. If the tenant doesn’t move out when they’re meant to, you can apply for an eviction order.

If it’s a short assured tenancy and you want it to be terminated before the end date, you must give the tenant a notice to quit and a section 33 notice at least two months before the day you want them to move out. If you want to take the matter to court before the tenancy has ended, you must also give the tenant a notice of proceedings.

If it’s an assured tenancy, you must give the tenant a notice to quit, setting out why you want them to leave and when you want them to move out. If you want to take the matter to court, you must give the tenant a notice of proceedings.

For more information, read Tenant eviction in Scotland FAQs.

Landlords must be careful not to wrongly terminate a tenancy, otherwise, they might find themselves taken to the Housing and Property Chamber by the tenant. It’s also important to remember that while you can terminate a tenancy if a tenant behaves badly, you mustn’t harass them into leaving.