If you’re new to renting out property in Scotland, it’s important to get to grips with the legal obligations and responsibilities that come with being a landlord. While letting agents and property managers can take care of many of these duties for you, final responsibility rests with you, the landlord – so it’s a good idea to be clued up before you start.
There’s a lot to take in, but to help you stay on the right side of the law, here are 12 key things you need to do before you hand over the keys to your first tenant.
1 Register as a landlord in Scotland
Your first legal responsibility as a landlord in Scotland is to register your intention to let property with your local authority. Fail to do so, and you could receive a fine of up to £50,000 and be banned from letting out property for five years.
You will then become part of the Scottish Landlord Register. You’ll be given a registration number and expected to renew your membership every three years.
2 Hand over the tenancy agreement – and other legal information
Scottish tenancies taken out after 2017 are known as private residential tenancies. By law you must supply your tenant with the written terms of their tenancy – or a tenancy agreement – when they move in, setting out things like payment of rent and house rules. The Scottish government has created a model tenancy agreement, which you can use. Along with the agreement you must also give your tenant either the Easy Read Notes for the Scottish Government Model Tenancy Agreement, or the Private Residential Tenancy Statutory Terms Supporting Notes. You must also supply your tenant with your name and address.
3 Protect your tenant’s deposit in an approved scheme
If you take a tenancy deposit to cover you for damages, you must register it with an approved tenancy deposit scheme. In Scotland there are three schemes to choose from:
You need to register the deposit within 30 days of the start of the tenancy and you must tell your tenant which scheme you are using.
4 Organise an energy performance certificate for the property
Energy performance certificates (EPCs) set out how energy efficient a property is on a scale from A (most efficient) to G, and give you recommendations for improvement. You must have one in place before you market a property for rent. In Scotland you must fix a copy of the EPC to the property – usually in the boiler or meter cupboard.
5 Install the correct smoke alarms and other fire safety features
Before you rent it out, your property needs smoke alarms, a heat alarm and fire extinguishers, with the alarms interlinked. Read the full guidance on fire detection in private rented properties on the Scottish government’s website. You must also make sure that all furniture and fittings meet fire safety standards.
6 Have the electrics checked
You must arrange for an electrician to carry out an Electrical Installation Condition Report inspection to ensure that your electrical wiring in the property and any appliances you provide are safe. You are required by law to repeat the checks every five years, though it is good practice organise them more frequently. You should use a competent electrician who is SELECT or NICEIC registered.
7 Book a gas safety check
If you have gas heating, cookers or other appliances, you must get a registered Gas Safe engineer to carry out a landlord gas safety record check – before your tenant moves in, then annually.
8 Find out if the property meets the repairing standard
Before you welcome your first tenant into the property, it needs to achieve certain standards. Under the Scottish Housing Act 2006, the property must meet what’s called the repairing standard. This requires the home to be wind and watertight; for its structure and exterior to be sound; for its water, gas, electricity and heating to be in a reasonable state of repair and for all appliances to be in good working order.
9 … and the tolerable standard?
In addition, the property must meet a basic level of repair called the tolerable standard. This is about ensuring that the rental home is fit to live in. It covers a range of issues including damp, ventilation, fresh water supply, drainage and cooking facilities.
10 Carry out a risk assessment for legionella
In Scotland, landlords must carry out a legionella risk assessment of their property. Legionella is the bacteria which causes legionnaires’ disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. Find out more about the legionella risk assessment on the health and safety executive website.
11 Take extra steps if yours is a house in multiple occupation
Your property will be subject to additional mandatory licensing if it is a house of multiple occupation (HMO) which is home to three or more unrelated people, who share bathroom or kitchen facilities.
As the owner of an HMO, you must have a licence from your local authority to ensure that the accommodation is safe and well-managed and that you are a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold a licence.
12 Register to pay the correct tax on your income
Landlords must pay tax on their profits by registering for self-assessment and filing annual tax returns. If you’re new to self-assessment find out more on the Scottish government website.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the duties and responsibilities of renting property in Glasgow, we’d be happy to help. Give us a call to discuss our services for landlords today.