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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.

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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 listed on 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 a property that meets the following standards:

  • it’s wind and watertight and in all other respects reasonably fit for human habitation, meeting the Repairing Standard

  • 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

  • if a property has any gas appliances, a Gas Safe engineer will need to do an Annual Landlord Gas Safety Record check, which should be arranged every year (even after a tenant moves in)

  • any fixtures, fittings or applications are in a reasonable state of repair

  • any furnishings are safe and meet fire regulations

  • carbon monoxide alarms are installed and working

  • fire extinguishers, interlinked smoke and heat alarms are installed

  • a qualified electrician carries out electrical safety inspections at least once every 5 years

  • a Legionella Risk Assessment has been carried out

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:

You must also give your tenant at least 3 months’ written notice before you increase the rent, and your tenant is allowed to challenge the increase if they think it’s too high. For more information, read Private renting rent increases in Scotland.

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

It’s wise to agree with the tenant on 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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