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Help and Advice

Worth Knowing

 

Finding the perfect private accommodation doesn’t have to be a chore, but it’s important to remember that there is more to consider than just the size of your bedroom and the décor.  Our Housing Guide will help you avoid all the common mistakes thousands of tenants make each year when moving into their privately rented accommodation.

 

1)    What to look for

2)    Safety Issues

3)    The Repairing Standard

4)    Household Costs

5)    Private Residential Tenancy Agreement

6)    Tenancy Deposit Law

7)    Your Rights

8)    Advice on Personal Safety

9)    Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

10)  Inventory

11)  Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

 

 1) What to look for:

The Exterior

  • The roof looks sound, there aren’t any tiles or slates missing.
  • The gutters and pipes aren’t broken or leaking.
  • The window frames aren’t rotten.
  • The windows aren’t broken or cracked.

The Interior

  • No signs of damp, e.g – dark patches, peeling wallpaper or flaking paint.
  • No signs of condensation, such as mould on the walls or ceiling.
  • There are no signs of any pests, such as slug trails and mouse droppings.

Gas & Electricity

  • The plugs don’t get hot when switched on. Check there are plenty of sockets.
  • The wiring doesn’t look old, there aren’t any frayed cables.
  • Any gas fire heats up properly and isn’t heat stained (if it is it may be dangerous)
  • When was the last gas service and is there a valid gas safety certificate?
  • The cooker (and any provided appliances) work!
  • Is there a valid Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and Portable Appliance Test (PAT) Certificate.

Plumbing

  • There is hot water.
  • The taps all work correctly.
  • The bath and basins aren’t cracked and the toilet flushes properly.

Security

  • The external doors are solid.
  • The windows all have locks.
  • Is there a burglar alarm? Try to use your bargaining powers to get one, it is in the agent’s/landlord’s interest as well as your own.

 

2) Safety Issues

Gas Safety Certificates

From 1 April 2009, the law requires all agents/landlords to ensure all gas appliances in a property are safe and checked annually by a person registered with the Gas Safe Register and provide each tenant with a copy of the Gas Safe Certificate.  If you are a new tenant, then you should be issued with a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate before you move in. Any gas safety record given to you after 1st April 2009 will only be valid if the engineer is registered with Gas Safe Register.

https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

 

Electricity

From 1 December 2015 the law requires all agents/landlords to provide their tenants with a current EICR and PAT Certificate.

 

Fire SafetyFurniture and Furnishings

On 1 January 1998 the final phase of the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire Safety) Regulations 1988 came into force. “The regulations provide for all furniture manufactured after 1 January 1950 to be fire retardant and carry proper labels”.  This means that furniture and furnishings supplied in let housing must comply with the fire and safety requirements in the regulations.  All residential premises including flats, bedsits and houses where furniture is supplied as part of the let are covered by these regulations.  The type of furniture covered by the regulations are: any upholstered furniture including chairs, sofas, children’s furniture, beds, head boards (if upholstered), mattresses, scatter cushions, seat pads, pillows and even garden furniture if it is upholstered and can be used in the dwelling.  Carpets, curtains and duvets are not covered by the regulations.

 

Carbon Monoxide

From 1 December 2015 the law requires all agents/landlords to install the appropriate number of carbon monoxide (co) detectors in relation to the number of relevant appliances.

 

 3) The Repairing Standard

As per the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, The Repairing Standard covers the legal and contractual obligations of private landlords in ensuring that their property meets the minimum physical standard.

For further information on the legislation covered by the repairing standard:

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/repairing-standard/

 

4) Household Costs

Bills

  • Clarify what is included in your rent. For instance, some agents/landlords include council tax, others don’t.
  • If possible, ask the previous tenants the rough cost of gas and electricity.
  • Take readings of the relevant meters as soon as you can once the last tenants have left.
  • Change the bills to your name with the relevant suppliers from the time you move in. Decide whether joint names will be put on the bills or if the responsibility will be divided.

Insurance

  • Do not think of doing without it.
  • Shop around to find the right insurance package for you requirements.
  • Make sure you are covered.

Council Tax

  • Properties where all occupants are full time students are exempt. You may be asked to produce a certificate giving evidence of your student status; this certificate can be obtained from your faculty office once you have registered on your course.
  • If one or more of the occupants of your household is not a student the property becomes taxable so you must clarify whether you are expected to pay anything towards the cost.
  • If you are unsure about your status with regard to Council Tax then seek advice from your local authority.
  • Landlords of shared houses - Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) are usually responsible for the payment of council tax.

TV Licence

Once in your tenancy it is your responsibility to obtain a TV Licence if you plan to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel or if you are downloading or streaming any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

More information can be found:

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/

 

5) Private Residential Tenancy Agreement

Contract

From 1 December 2017 all new private tenancies will be required to be a Private Residential Tenancy (PRT).  All relevant persons living in the property must be named on the PRT.

Points to note

  • Rents must be agreed before the contract is signed as it is a binding agreement. Remember you can negotiate with the agent/landlord over rents and opt out clauses if you are not happy with the agent/landlords suggestions.
  • Always try to get your lease checked, Citizen’s Advice will be able to check this.
  • Agents/landlords must comply with the relevant legislation on the Notice to Leave and Rent Increase Notice.
  • An agent/landlord cannot simply evict a tenant without an Eviction Order from the First Tier Tribunal.

For further information please visit:

https://beta.gov.scot/policies/private-renting/private-tenancy-reform/

 

6) Tenancy Deposit

Deposits

In most cases you will be required to pay a deposit to the agents/landlords as security in case you damage the property or its furnishings.  It can also be used to cover any unpaid bills, rent or missing items.  Most agents/landlords will ask for a sum equivalent to four weeks or a calendar month’s rent but the maximum an agent/landlord can charge by law is two months’ rent in Scotland.  The deposit should be refunded normally within 28 days after you have vacated the property, provided there are no problems with the condition of the accommodation or any other outstanding matters.

 

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

From 7 March 2013 all deposits paid to private landlords must be lodged with an approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme.  A tenancy deposit scheme is a scheme provided by an independent third party to protect deposits until they are due to be repaid.

It is important that if you pay a deposit you know which scheme your landlord has paid it into.  Further information can be found on the three schemes operating in Scotland:

 

Safe Deposits Scotland

www.safedepositsscotland.com

Contact: info@safedepositsscotland.com

Telephone: 0333 321 3136

 

Letting Protection Service Scotland

www.lettingprotectionscotland.com

Telephone: 0330 303 0031

 

My Deposit Scotland

www.mydepositsscotland.co.uk

Contact: info@mydepositsscotland.co.uk

Telephone: 0333 321 9402

 

For more information on the regulation surrounding Tenancy Deposit Schemes:

Tenants:  https://www.mygov.scot/tenancy-deposits-tenants/

Landlords:  https://www.mygov.scot/tenancy-deposits-landlords/

 

7) Your Rights

The Agent/Landlord is responsible for:

  • All landlords must be registered with the local authority that their property is in. For more information on how to register in East Dunbartonshire please see landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk or www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk/residents/housing/advice-support/private-rented-housing
  • Keeping the structure and exterior of the dwelling, including drains, gutters and external pipes in a good state of repair.
  • Keeping in repair and good working order the installations for the supply of water, gas and electricity. This also applies to sanitation – including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences and for heating rooms and hot water.
  • Providing a rent book if statute so requires e.g. – where the rent is paid weekly.
  • Providing you with the agent/landlords full name and address.
  • Providing you with a copy of the valid Gas Safety Certificate.
  • Providing you with a copy of the valid Electrical Inspection Condition Report (EICR)
  • Providing you with a copy of the valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • Providing you with a legionella risk assessment.
  • Allowing you to “peacefully enjoy” your housing (unless there is an emergency)
  • Agents/landlords have the right to enter the property at reasonable times to carry out the repairs for which they are responsible and to inspect the condition and state of repair of the property. They must give at least 48 hours’ notice in writing of an inspection.  It would be helpful to set out the arrangements for access and procedures for getting repairs done in the lease.

 

The Tenant is responsible for:

  • Ensuring rent is paid on time and in full.
  • Acting in a correct “Tenant like matter”. This means you should perform the smaller tasks around the property for example - fixing a blown fuse, unblocking a sink and cleaning windows when necessary.
  • Not damaging the house, if you or your guests do then you are responsible for the repairs.
  • Waste collection. Remember to find out the collection day for your rubbish and recycling and put out and take back in your bins.
  • Securing the property when you go away; lock all doors and windows.
  • Being reasonable about noise and parties.
  • Reporting all repairs needed to the agent/landlord. Do this in writing preferably.  The agent/landlords responsibility will only begin when they are aware of the problem.  If the fault is not corrected within a reasonable period of time then seek advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or the Housing and Property Chamber (https://www.housingandpropertychamber.scot/)

 

Harassment and Unlawful Eviction

If your agent/landlord wants you to leave your accommodation then a legal process must be complied with before you can be evicted.  This will include a written notice and applying to the First Tier Tribunal for an eviction order.  If you are evicted without the correct procedures being followed then a criminal offence is being committed. 

If the agent/landlord (or anyone acting on their behalf) interferes with your peace or comfort either with unannounced visits, by not fulfilling his/her responsibilities for basic repairs (as above), disconnection of utility supplies and so on, then this may also be considered harassment and a criminal offence. 

There is also the Housing and Property Chamber that deal with some tenancy issues, including rent levels.  For more information please see:

https://www.housingandpropertychamber.scot/

If you are in danger of eviction or suffering from harassment from your agent/landlord then contact East Dunbartonshire Council’s Homelessness Team or Anti-Social Behaviour Team:

Telephone: 0300 123 4510

 

8) Advice on Personal Safety

We would always recommend viewing a property in person, rather than relying on information online.  You will need to check that the landlord and the property are bona fide.  We would never recommend transferring any monies to anyone before entering into an agreement to let a property.  For your own safety, it is always advisable for you to view a property accompanied and at a reasonable hour.  However, there are advantages to viewings after dark so that you can get an idea of how safe you will feel walking home at night etc.

 

Security

 Checking the security of a property:

  • Is the property in a “good area?”
  • Is the property set back from the road?
  • Is the street lighting sufficient?
  • Are any external doors secure and solid? Can the windows be locked?
  • Is there a chain on the door? If not, can one be fitted?
  • Are window coverings adequate?

 

9) Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

What is an EPC?

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives home owners, tenants and buyers information on the energy efficiency of their property.  It gives the building a standard energy and carbon emission efficiency grade from A to G, where A is the most efficient.  To date the average in Scotland is a band D.

In addition to the rating for your property’s current energy performance band, part of the EPC report will list the potential rating the property could achieve.  If these recommendations are made, it is not mandatory for anyone to act on them.  However, doing so can cut energy bills and reduce carbon emissions.

 

Who needs an EPC?

From 1 October 2008 as a tenant moving into a property, it is the legal requirement of the agent/landlord to provide you with a full EPC, free of charge.

Agents/landlords are only required to produce an EPC for a property that is self-contained.  The EPC is valid for 10 years.  An EPC is not required when a tenant rents a room and shares facilities.

Further information on EPC’s can be found:

http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/Building/Building-standards/enerperfor/epcguidance

 

10) Inventory

It is not uncommon for tenants not to be presented with a copy of an inventory from their landlords when first moving into a new tenancy.  Providing an inventory can be extremely useful evidence of the condition of the property and its contents when you first move in.  

If you aren’t supplied with an inventory by your agent/landlord don’t hesitate to request one.  If you still don’t receive one, provide them with your own.  You do this by making a list of the contents room by room.  Take photos too and even video evidence as back up.

The agent/landlord and tenant/s should both sign the inventory and initial each page to indicate that you agree to the stated condition of the property and any provided contents. 

If at all possible the inventory should be checked on move out day and compared to the original inventory.  It should be ensured that there are no disputes regarding any damage as the landlord may request this is covered by any deposit taken.

 

Inventory essentials:

  • List every item within the property and describe its condition.
  • Back it up with photographic/video evidence.
  • Take a note of gas/electricity meter readings.
  • Get the agent/landlord to agree to and sign the inventory.
  • Keep the inventory safe to check against when moving out.

 

11) Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

HMO licensing was introduced in Scotland in October 2000 and was created with the intention of providing a fairer and better housing market for those renting property and felt to be at highest risk.   

 “A house is considered a HMO if it is the only or principle residence of 3 or more qualifying persons from 3 or more families”

In Scotland it is mandatory for all HMOs to be licensed with the local authority.  To be a licensable HMO the housing must be the only or principle residence of a specified number of people who are not members either of the same family or one or other of two families. 

HMOs are regulated by the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (part 5) and guidance for landlord’s on HMO standards can be found at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2004/07/19731/40891  for tenants: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2004/07/19733/40897

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