It's important to empower yourself with knowledge of the rights that Scottish law affords you as a student renter. Below we've put together a summary of the important things to remember. You can also check out the Scottish Government website through the button below for comprehensive advice.
If you feel that you're being treated unreasonably as a student renter in Dundee, get in touch with us to see how we can help. Please note we cannot provide legal advice and will always refer you to the correct third party help when it's needed.
And on top of that, you must both agree to stick to them! Ensure you have a valid and signed copy of your tenancy agreement so you know the terms that you've agreed to. Also make sure you read through it properly before you've agreed to everything - just in case!
Your landlord should also provide you with a copy of 'Easy-read notes for the Scottish Government model tenancy agreement' or 'Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Terms Supporting Notes' - which explain the key elements that must be included in a legal tenancy agreement under the current law.
You can make an application to Scotland's First Tier Tribunal, called the 'Housing and Property Chamber' if your landlord does not provide you with a written copy of all the terms of your tenancy, the correct set of notes to accompany your written tenancy terms or a document explaining any updated terms of your tenancy within 28 days if a change is made to those terms during the rental period.
If you wish to do this, there is correct protocol to follow. You must give your landlord 28 days notice that you intend to take them to tribunal. You can use the Scottish government's service to generate the correct notice letter.
If you have been asked to pay any administrative fees, premiums, further deposits (refundable or otherwise), holding charges or any form of additional charge, know that it is illegal to do so in Scotland. Do not pay.
If you have already paid any additional charges, you may be able to reclaim them. Get in touch with us if you have been charged additional fees to discuss your options - this should be reported immediately.
See our section below on refundable deposits for elaboration on your rights regarding these.
Your landlord may move to increase your rent if significant improvements or renovations are made to the property or if they feel the current rent amount no longer reflects a reasonable price.
They must give you three months' written notice before they do so. They must use the correct form which uses this process.
If you disagree with the increase, you can get a rent officer to evaluate the rental value of the property. They have the authority to enforce a decision. They aim to respond to tenants' queries within 40 days. You can use this service to contact them. You must do so within 21 days of the date of issue of the rent increase notice issued by your landlord.
If either you or your landlord disagree with the decision made by the rent officer, then an appeal can be made through the First Tier Tribunal. Note that if a rent officer or the First Tier Tribunal find in favour of the increased amount, you will have to pay it from the date given as the end of your three months' notice on the landlord's original letter.
For further comprehensive information on fighting rent increases in the correct fashion, please consult Shelter Scotland's website. If you need help campaigning against a rent increase or feel you are being treated unfairly, get in touch.
Landlords have to apply to rent officers to increase the rent which should keep this balance in check. As previously mentioned, you can contact the First Tier Tribunal if you feel the increase is unfair.
If you make improvements to the property or pay for any improvements to the property then your landlord cannot increase rent off the back of this. We recommend ensuring that you contact your landlord and getting it in writing that they are happy with you undertaking any work that you wish to. We strongly advise not undertaking any work on the property without permission beyond extremely simple repairs that you are confident in undertaking.
You must allow reasonable access for the landlord, their agents or tradespeople to come into the property in order to carry out work when it's needed, inspect the property to see if work is needed or to carry out a valuation of the property. They must provide you at least 48 hours notice if they intend to do so. The landlord should never enter the property without your consent, unless in an emergency.
*The 48 hours period is voided if urgent work is needed to be done or an urgent assessment of work to be done needs to be carried out. Landlords should still not enter without your consent, although you are also responsible for allowing reasonable access to the landlord. You should try not to obstruct them from carrying out their end of the tenancy agreement.
Your landlord, agency or hall operator should never put you in an uncomfortable situation by being present in the property too often. If you feel that their visits are too frequent, trust your instinct and attempt a reasonable and polite conversation with them. Get in touch with us if you feel uncomfortable doing so or if you feel you are being treated unreasonably.
You should always be upfront with your landlord about who is using the address as a permanent home. You are obliged to tell them about anyone over 16 living at the address as their main or only home (who is not a joint tenant). You should never sublet the property or allow someone else to live there without the landlord's permission. If your landlord is suspicious of a breach in agreement on your end, they have reasonable right to access the property. Keep it all upfront and clear.
You should make reasonable attempts to negotiate with your landlord. If this isn't possible, you should consider further action. We can campaign on your behalf if you believe you are being treated unfairly.
Your landlord should provide adequate provision to ensure the property is safe, secure and will not have a detrimental effect on your health. All of the electrical devices provided by the landlord should be PAT tested. The landlord should have a Gas Safety Certificate for any gas appliances in the property.
If you live in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO), your landlord has additional responsibilites to ensure a safe escape route in case of fire and provide additional fire precautions such as extinguishers.
Your landlord must keep your property structurally sound and wind/watertight. Landlords must ensure that the inside of the property is safely habitable and ensure that the supply of water, electricity and gas are maintained.
Any white goods provided by the landlord as well as all furniture must be in a reasonable state of repair and in good working order.
You should ensure that to the best of your ability, you are maintaining the order that you found the property in. If something is wrong, you should contact your landlord as soon as possible to try and put it right.
When things go wrong, you should expect your landlord, agency or student hall operator to make a reasonable effort to fix things to working order. If something is broken as a result of your actions, you may find this results in a deduction from your refundable deposit. However, you are also entitled to reasonable wear and tear that would be expected in the length of your tenancy.
If your landlord does not respond to repair requests in adequate time to the detriment of your health, safety and wellbeing then you should get in touch with us to campaign on your behalf and contact Citizens Advice or Shelter Scotland to understand your rights - you are being treated unreasonably.
If repairs are not made or you have been forced to pay for repairs yourself and the landlord refuses to reasonably make an effort to repair what is needed/reimburse you then you could consider contacting the council's environmental health department or withholding rent. Note that withholding rent is a high risk strategy as any rent arrears could lead to the possibility of eviction. Shelter's linked website above goes through the proper process to ensure you are withholding rent correctly.
Plain and simple. For example if the monthly rent on the property is £300, then the landlord cannot charge more than £600 as a refundable deposit. Your deposit is used at the end of your tenancy as a guarantee against any damage to the property, cleaning bills if the property is left in bad condition (see below), unpaid bills such as energy or telephone bills and any rent arrears outstanding.
Remember that your landlord, agency or student halls should only charge you for one refundable deposit and no other fees.
The three schemes concerned are the Letting Protection Service Scotland, Safe Deposits Scotland and my|deposits Scotland. These schemes hold your deposit for you while you're engaged in a tenancy and provide it to you after it is over. Your deposit should not stay with a private landlord during this time, barring some very specific exceptions.*
At the end of your tenancy, if your landlord wishes to deduct charges from your deposit then they will contact the scheme ahead of time. The scheme will confirm with you whether the deductions are acceptable or if you want to dispute them, you must respond in 30 days.
Your landlord is responsible for providing you with information about where your deposit has gone. This includes the amount of the deposit, when they received it, the date it was paid into the scheme, the full address of the property, their landlord registration details, which deposit scheme they've paid your deposit into + their contact details and the circumstances in which some of the deposit may be withheld at the end of the tenancy.
We recommend contacting the scheme your deposit is registered with if you do not receive independent contact from the scheme about your deposit's registration.
*See the "Exceptions" section of the Scottish Government Website's advice on exceptions from deposits being held in a scheme. For most student renters, these situations are unlikely.
All of the schemes available have their own mediation processes to assist in the negotiation between landlord and tenant if you feel that the deductions are excessive, unclear or unreasonable. You should first make reasonable effort to negotiate with your landlord, agency or hall operator about what you want deducted. Ensure you take photographs at the start and end of the tenancy for comparison. Contact local cleaning companies to discuss the average rate for an end of tenancy clean if you feel that the cleaning charges deducted from your deposit are excessive.
We will campaign on your behalf if you are being treated unreasonably in this negotiation or if you face an unfair verdict at the end of mediation. Remember that if you choose to dispute the deposit amount, the landlord is obligated to enter into the mediation process.
There are no fixed term tenancies for private renters in Scotland. The rules might be different if you're staying in halls. You must serve your landlord 28 days written notice before deciding to end a tenancy. The notice period begins on the day the landlord receives the notice. If you are in a HMO property, whether you will all have to leave at once or can leave the property independently will depend on the agreement you made with your landlord at the beginning of your tenancy.
You and your landlord can agree on a different notice period if you are both happy with it. Any notice must be served after you have moved into the property and your tenancy has begun (ie. you cannot preempt to end the tenancy before it has begun). If you and the landlord agree, you can also cancel the notice should you change your mind and wish to stay.
If your landlord tries to persuade or force you to leave without following the correct legal process then they could be carrying out an illegal eviction. This is a criminal offence in Scotland. Your notice must be given "freely and without coercion".
If your landlord threatens to cut off certain utilities in an attempt to make you leave, this is also an example of attempted illegal eviction.
You must be served with a Notice to Leave by your landlord. The notice period will depend on the reason but this is regulated by Scottish rules. It will be either 28 days, 3 months or 6 months. You can find information on the 18 grounds for eviction on the Scottish government website.
You are protected from wrongful eviction by the First Tier Tribunal, which you can apply to if you believe you have been wrongfully evicted. You can also contact us to ask us to help campaign on your behalf. If your landlord gets a wrongful termination order, they'll be told to pay you compensation of up to six months' rent.
Your landlord cannot evict you due to rent arrears up until this date. If your rent is in arrears for any reason except deliberate rent withholding (see above), then you should seek to come to an agreement with your landlord as to when you will be able to pay off your arrears.
You should follow Citizens Advice Scotland's comprehensive list of advice for people struggling to pay their bills as a result of COVID-19.
You can contact us to see if there's any way we can help, through campaigning on your behalf or helping you negotiate through renters' solidarity.