What are the options to consider when looking for a rented home?

Last updated: 18/01/2021

Your two main options are renting a home from a social landlord or a private landlord.

Renting from a social landlord

Social landlords include the local council, housing associations and cooperatives.

Anyone over 16 can apply to rent a council, housing association or co-operative property. You apply using a form available from your local council. If your council operates a ‘common housing register’ you can apply for housing from all three social landlords on the one form.

You normally need to have a connection to the area where you wish to live for your application to be accepted. Things like working in that area, your children attending school there or needing to live near family are considered.

Housing is usually allocated on a points system, according to need. Along with your application form, you will receive a booklet explaining how the points system works. It is important to include all relevant information when you apply as the more points you have the greater your priority so the quicker you will be offered housing. There may not be enough social housing properties for everyone who would like one in your area.

Some councils ask you to ‘bid’ for the property you want. If more than one person is interested in the same property it will usually be given to the person who has been waiting the longest.

You do not have to accept a property you are offered but you need a good reason for not doing so, as it could affect when or if you are offered others.

Once you have been allocated a property you will be given a tenant’s handbook. This will give details of your tenancy agreement, how to pay your rent, your responsibilities as a tenant and the council, housing association or cooperative’s responsibilities as a landlord.

All landlords have a responsibility to ensure your home is wind and watertight and to carry out repairs when and where necessary.

Seek advice if you think your landlord is not carrying out repairs.

Renting from a private landlord

This option means renting from someone who owns a property and becoming their tenant. A private landlord can be an individual or a company that owns one or more properties such as houses or flats. Letting agents may manage the property on behalf of the property owner. To find a private rented home, search the internet or visit letting agencies.

Privately rented accommodation is generally more expensive than renting from the council, a housing association or cooperative, and you will often be asked to pay a deposit and a months rent up front before moving in. However, renting from a private landlord can give you more choice on where to live, the type of home, and can be quicker to find.

When you rent privately you will be entering into an agreement with your landlord. This written agreement will include contact details of your landlord, the amount of rent you have agreed to pay, when it should be paid and the type of tenancy you have. It may also contain information on other things like details of the deposit, furniture provided and who is responsible for decoration.

Your landlord may not give you a written tenancy agreement, but you still have the same rights.

All landlords have a responsibility to ensure your home is wind and watertight and to carry out repairs when and where necessary.

Seek advice if you think your landlord is not carrying out repairs.


How long can I stay in my rented home?

The length of time you can stay in your home depends on the type of tenancy you have.

If you rent from the council, housing associations or cooperatives you are most likely to have a Scottish Secure Tenancy. This means you can live in your house for as long you want unless your landlord has grounds to evict you. You may be given a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy in some circumstances. These circumstances include being evicted from a previous tenancy for antisocial behaviour or being given temporary accommodation because you are homeless. a Short Scottish Assured Tenancy will be given for a specific length of time.

If you rent from a private landlord you may have an Assured, Short Assured or Private Residential Tenancy. Assured and Short Assured Tenancies were given to tenants who started renting before 1 December 2017. These tenancies state when the tenancy will end. They will automatically renew after this date unless you want to leave the property or your landlord has grounds to evict you. If you want to leave the property before the end of your tenancy you will need to come to an agreement with your landlord.  If your private tenancy started after 1 December 2017 you will have a Private Residential Tenancy. This does not have an end date, so you can leave when you choose to unless your landlord has obtained an eviction order.

Seek advice if you think your landlord is not carrying out repairs.


An Eviction Order

Your landlord may request an eviction order from the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber if they believe they have grounds for asking you to leave the property you rent from them. Grounds for eviction include not paying your rent, breaking the terms of your tenancy agreement or a major refurbishment is needed that cannot be done with you in the house.

Seek legal advice if you receive an eviction notice.

Can I add special equipment or make modifications to my rented home?

If you, or a member of your family has a disability or medical condition, requiring special equipment or modification to your home, you may get help from the council.

Your local council’s social work department will carry out an assessment and draw up a care plan detailing what services, equipment or alteration to your home you need. How quickly the assessment is carried out depends on your circumstances. What the council will supply and what you need to pay for depends on the council’s guidelines, your income and savings. Visit your local council’s website for further details.