The material to which the Comhairle must have regard in deciding whether an applicant is a “fit and proper” person to act as a landlord, includes material which shows that the applicant has “contravened any provision of the law relating to housing, or landlord and tenant law.” This is a brief guide to the range of issues which are covered by those legal requirements.
The exact obligations on landlords depend on the type of tenancy or occupancy arrangement in place.
The tenant must be given details of the landlord’s name and address. Where an Assured or Short Assured Tenancy exists, a written agreement must be provided.
Correct legal procedures for repossessing accommodation (if the tenant does not leave when they are asked to). In most cases this means giving proper notice, and ultimately getting a Court Order. Under the Rent (Scotland) Act 1984, it is a criminal offence to evict a tenant unlawfully, or to use harassment to try to make them leave. Section 11 of the Homelessness etc (Scotland) Act 2003 requires landlords to notify the relevant local authority when they raise proceedings for possession in a court.
Various rules apply to the charging and handling of rents and deposits:
- no charge must be made for a person to have their name put on a list for accommodation
- no charge must be made for drawing up or copying the tenancy agreement
- if a deposit is required, it must be no more than the equivalent of two months’ rent
- if rent is paid weekly, the landlord must issue a rent book and enter a receipt for each weekly payment
- the tenant cannot be required to pay rent before the start of the rental period to which it relates
- proper procedures must be followed before changing the amount of rent to be charged.
- The landlord must have any gas appliances checked annually by a GAS SAFE registered contractor, and obtain a gas safety certificate. He or she must provide tenants with a copy of the certificate, and keep the records for at least 2 years (Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998).Registered engineers can be found at www.gassaferegister.co.uk (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
- All furniture and furnishings provided by the landlord must comply with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire)(Safety) Regulations 1988.
- The landlord has a general duty to make sure that the electrical installations and appliances provided as part of the let are safe to use. Tenants' own appliances are not included in the check. The Electrical Safety Council recently published The Landlords Guide to Electrical Safety (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) which offers advice on the actions required to help keep tenants safe. It provides guidance on maintaining electrical installations and electrical appliances, from visual checks, periodic inspection testing and portable appliances, to fire alarms and emergency lighting. .
- The landlord must comply with any statutory notices requiring property he or she owns to be repaired, brought up to a higher standard, closed or, if it is an HMO, provided with additional facilities or means of escape from fire.
- The owner of an HMO must hold a licence from the local authority and must comply with the conditions of that licence.