Private Sector Housing

Private Sector Tenant and Landlord Responsibilities

Tenants and landlords in all types of rented accommodation have legal tenancy rights and responsibilities.

A tenancy agreement that sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy including the rent should be in place. 

Tenants’ Rights

Every tenant has the right:

  • To know the name and address of the landlord
  • To a decent standard of repair
  • To proper notice if the landlord wants the tenant to leave
  • To ‘quiet enjoyment’ while staying in the property e.g. not to be harassed by the landlord.

In furnished accommodation, you should be given an inventory at the beginning of your tenancy. You should check the inventory and sign this as confirmation that all the items listed are present and in good condition – taking photographs of any already damaged items is a good idea. If you have any concerns you should bring this to the attention of your landlord and agree that this damage will not affect your deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Further information on finding a property can be found on the Renting Scotland website's A guide to: Looking at properties as a tenant in the links on the right.

Information on repairs responsibility can also be found found on the Renting Scotland website's A guide to: Getting repairs done as a tenant in the links on the right.

Tenants’ Responsibilities

Tenant responsibilities for repairs should be set out in the tenancy agreement. Although tenants should not be held responsible for general wear and tear, they must make sure any fittings, fixture and furniture supplied and other contents are not damaged because of their misuse or negligence.

Tenants should inform their landlord promptly of any necessary repair work.

Tenants are also responsible for the payment of their rent as laid out in the tenancy agreement.

Landlords’ Rights

Every landlord has the right:

  • To charge a market rent
  • To agree the terms of the tenancy before it begins
  • To receive rent when it is due
  • To be advised of any necessary repairs
  • To be given the proper notice by a tenant if they wish to leave

Landlords’ Responsibilities

Landlords must be registered and when the property is advertised it must by law include the landlord registration number and the Energy Performance rating. The link to landlord registration is in the box on the right.


Landlords are obliged to keep the property wind and watertight and in good tenantable condition. There are regulations in place to ensure that all landlords carry out annual checks on gas installations and electrical appliances. 

The Tenancy agreement should set out who is responsible for what repairs, the conditions of the tenancy and the rent to be paid.  Any tenancies entered into after December 2017 must be Private Residential Tenancies. The tenant must be given certain information when the tenancy is entered into. Further information is available at

The landlord has a general responsibility to keep in good repair and working order:

  • The structure and exterior of the property, including drains, gutters and external pipes
  • Water and gas pipes and electrical wiring (e.g. including taps and sockets)
  • Basins, sinks, baths and toilets
  • Fixed heaters and water heaters
  • Repairs to common parts of the building such as stairways, hallways shared with other tenants, etc.

For further information on renting out a property see the Renting Scotland website's A guide to: Renting your property out from the links on the right.

Information on dealing with antisocial behaviour can also be found on the Renting Scotland website's A guide to: Dealing with antisocial behaviour as a landlord.


Before letting a property, the landlord should ensure it is clean, dry, safe and in a habitable condition. The electricity supply, the plumbing and the central heating should be checked for safety and the kitchen should be of a reasonable standard with safe facilities for storing and preparing food.

Safety of Electrical Equipment

Electrical equipment in furnished privately rented housing, which is hired as part of the tenancy agreement is subject to the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994. These regulations require that electrical equipment must be safe to use and would apply to bedside lamps, televisions, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, portable electrical fires, etc.

Safety of Furniture and Furnishings

It is the Landlords responsibility as supplier or agent of holiday or let accommodation to ensure that all upholstered furniture complies with the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations which you will find in the links on the right.  This includes short-term lets and long-term lets.

Fire and smoke detection

It is the landlords responsibility to ensure that the property has sufficient interlinked fire and smoke alarms and that the system is maintained in working order.


Any Gas appliances and the supply system must be tested and certified annually.

Electrical installation and equipment

The electrical installation must be maintained, tested and certified every 5 years and any electrical equipment supplied with the let must also be safe and PAT (portable appliance test) certified if necessary.


Before letting the landlord must ensure that they have conducted a Legionella risk assessment and informed the tenant of the findings (if any).


In a private let, you may be required to pay a deposit as well as your first month’s rent in advance.

Landlords have a legal duty to pay any deposits collected for relevant tenancies to a Government approved scheme.

The Scottish Government have approved schemes to protect tenancy deposits until they are due to be repaid: The approved schemes are:

The deposit is money paid to a Private Landlord at the beginning of a tenancy as security against damage to the property or removal of furniture by a tenant. A deposit must never be more than one sixth of the annual rent and is usually the same amount as one month’s rent. Your Landlord should provide you with a receipt for the deposit once you have paid it.

The legal duties on landlords who receive a deposit for a tenancy beginning on or after 2 July 2012, are:

  • to pay deposits to an approved tenancy deposit scheme within 30 working days of the tenancy commencing; and
  • to provide you with relevant information about the tenancy and deposit

The dates landlords must pay deposits to an approved scheme vary, depending on when the deposit was received.

Providing you have accrued no rent arrears at the end of the tenancy and the accommodation is the same condition as you found it, you should have your deposit returned to you in full. If this does not happen you should seek independent advice from Shetland CAB or Shelter Scotland.

Notice to Quit

If a landlord asks you to leave your accommodation or if the landlord advises you that court proceedings for repossession are being taken against you, you should not move out of your accommodation without consulting an experienced advisor, such as the Shetland Citizen's Advice Bureau or Shelter Scotland.

If you receive a written or verbal Notice to Quit from your landlord, you should also seek the help from an advisor as soon as possible before the notice expires.

Even after a notice to quit expires, you still have continued rights of occupancy and it is therefore important to seek advice.