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Legal obligations of a landlord in Scotland

This information only applies in Scotland.

If you're a landlord in Scotland, you must know what your responsibilities are. Even if you use a letting agent, you're still responsible for meeting your obligations. This quick guide sets out some of the key rules you need to be aware of.

First, you must apply to be registered as a landlord with the local council that covers the area where your property is. Once you’re entered into the register, you’ll be given a registration number, which must be displayed on adverts to rent your property. Your landlord registration must be renewed every three years.

It’s a criminal offence to let your property without being registered. The penalties for not being in the Scottish Landlord Register are severe – you could be prevented from charging your tenant rent, fined up to £50,000 or banned from letting properties for up to five years.

You must also register your tenant’s deposit with an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 days of the tenancy starting. If you don’t, the tenant can make a claim in the sheriff court, and you might find yourself ordered to pay the tenant up to three times the value of their deposit. For more information, read Prescribed information for tenancy deposits in Scotland.

If you want to rent your property out to three or more unrelated people, you must also get a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence. For more information, read HMOs.

Landlords in Scotland have a duty to repair and maintain their property. This means you can only rent out property that meets the following standards:

  • it’s wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation
  • the structure and exterior of the house are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • the water, gas and electricity supply, and installations for sanitation and heating are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order
  • any fixtures, fittings or applications are in a reasonable state of repair
  • any furnishings are safe
  • fire and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and working
  • a qualified electrician carries out electrical safety inspections at least once every five years

If the tenant is already living in the property and you need access to make repairs, the tenant should be given at least 48 hours’ notice (unless urgent access is needed).

You must provide your tenant with copies of the following documents, whether digitally or in hardcopy:

  • a written copy of the tenancy agreement
  • either the easy read notes or supporting notes on private residential tenancy provided by the Scottish Government
  • information on the tenancy deposit scheme their deposit was paid into, and the repayment conditions
  • an up to date Energy Performance Certificate (or EPC)
  • if the tenancy terms change, a document explaining these within 28 days of the change coming into effect

You must also give your tenant at least three months’ written notice before you increase the rent, and your tenant is allowed to challenge the increase if they think it’s too high.

If you want to end the tenancy, you must give your tenant a notice to leave. For more information, read our quick guide on Tenants’ rights in Scotland.

It’s wise to agree with the tenant how you’ll contact each other and send documents such as those listed above. You can do this via a communication agreement, which will set down whether you’ll contact each other via email or post, and whether any extra time will be added for certain delivery methods.

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