Tenant's guide to renting in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Leven, Cupar, East Neuk and St Andrews
So, you’ve found a suitable Property to Rent and you’re one step closer to becoming a tenant.
This tenant guide will provide you with the advice and information you need to secure the right property, deal with tenancy agreements and inventories and understand your rights and obligations as a tenant, whether you’re looking at studio apartments, flats or houses to rent.
Securing a property to rent
Having found a suitable house or flat to rent, what happens next? You should begin by putting down a holding deposit in order to state your intention to rent the property and get the property off the market. The Letting Agent will then begin the administrative process of requesting references from you and a full deposit.
They will be keen to make sure that you are a suitable tenant and that you have the ability to pay your rent, while also making sure that you have rented a property without any major problems in the past (if this is applicable). If instructed, they will organise this, and at this point, they are likely to ask for your permission to conduct the relevant searches. Be aware that should you fail any of the necessary checks, you may not be granted the tenancy.
If you agree, some, or all, of the following documents may be requested:
- Photographic ID & Proof of address
- References from previous landlords – you may be asked to give the details of where you have lived within the last 3 years
- A credit check – this will allow us to see if you have a good history of paying your bills
- Your bank details – including bank name, account number and sort-code
- Details of your employment – your employer, job title, payroll number, salary, previous employer, etc.
In the event that the information highlights any potential of risk to the landlord, you may be asked to provide a guarantor. A guarantor will be contractually liable, both financially and legally, should you fail to pay the rent during your tenancy or in the event of damage to the property.
The final event in your securing the property is the deposit. This is usually one months’ rent and held for the duration of the tenancy. The deposit is a safety net for the landlord to guard against the cost of replacing or repairing property damaged or rent arrears by the renter. It is, however, the single most disputed area of the renting process so it has to be held in a government approved custodial scheme of which some details outlining it are below:
Tenancy deposit protection in summary
- Landlords will be required to join a statutory tenancy deposit scheme, if they take deposits
- This will mean that deposits are safeguarded
- Tenants will get all or part of their deposit back, if they have kept the rental property in good condition and are entitled to get their deposit back
- The scheme offers alternative ways of resolving disputes which aim to be faster and cheaper than taking court action.
The Inventory/condition report
This is one of the most important documents in the renting process and can often be key in deciding how much of your deposit you get back at the end of your agreement. You should therefore be extremely thorough and give it your full attention, while taking the necessary precautions to protect your interests.
How is the inventory/condition report prepared?
The inventory is a list detailing every item contained within the property and the condition of each listed item is in on the day you move in. This may be prepared by either the letting agent, landlord or through an external specialist. Either way, you should go round the property with the landlord or agent and agree the state of each item before signing anything. If necessary, take photographic evidence to give you extra protection and to avoid any unnecessary disagreement at a later stage. You will be expected to sign the inventory and initial every page, along with the landlord or letting agent.
When will the inventory/condition report be checked again?
It is not uncommon for landlords and letting agents to schedule in regular three monthly inventory/condition report checks at the property in order to assess any damage that may have occurred. Find out if there are regular checks planned and when they are likely to take place. It is most common, however, for a final inventory/condition report check to be done on the day you are scheduled to move out.
The tenancy agreement is a contract between you and the landlord. It specifies certain rights to both you and the landlord, such as your right to live in the home for the agreed term and your landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the property.
Since December 2017 the Scottish Government has implemented a new tenancy model. The main details are:
Your tenancy is open-ended, which means it doesn’t have a fixed length or a set date it will end. Your landlord cannot include an expected end date or minimum period in your tenancy agreement.
If you are a joint tenant, all tenants are responsible for the rent, together and separately. This will apply for as long as the tenancy continues.
To end a joint tenancy, all the joint tenants must agree to end it and give the landlord written notice that they want to leave. (You can transfer your interest in the tenancy to someone else, if you have your landlord’s permission.)
If your tenancy agreement was signed before Dec 2017:
Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement (AST)
Since the late 90’s, AST has been the most common form of tenancy agreement and sets out the duties of both tenant and landlord. The most important aspect of this agreement is that the landlord has the right to repossess the property at the end of the agreed term. Despite its name, the agreement does not have to be short and can continue as long as both parties are happy to do so. There is no minimum term specified either, although the renter has the right to remain in the property for at least six months.
There are specific requirements linked to an AST that include:
- The tenant(s) must be an individual (i.e. not a company)
- The property must be the main home of the occupant
- The property must be let as separate accommodation.
The landlord and tenant are obliged to provide the either with two months’ notice if they want to terminate the agreement.
The agreement will most likely contain the following information:
- Your name, your landlord’s name and the address of the property which is being let
- The date the tenancy will commence
- The duration of the tenancy from the start to the agreed finish of the occupation
- The amount of rent payable, how often it should be paid, when it should be paid and when it can be legally increased
- The agreement should also state what the payments are expected, including Council Tax, utilities, service charges, etc.
- What services your landlord will provide, such as maintenance of common areas
- The notice period which you and your landlord need to give each other if the tenancy is to be terminated.
Tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities
You should seek the advice of a solicitor if you're in any doubt about your legal position when either letting or renting a property.
- To pay the agreed rent in full and on time
- To make sure no damage is caused to the property or its contents, whether by yourself or members of the household or visitors
- To consult your landlord about making any alterations to the property, requesting written permission
- To report any damage or need for repairs to the landlord
- Not to cause disturbance, nuisance or annoyance to neighbours
- To provide the landlord with access to the property for the purpose of inspection, or to carry out repairs, as long as sufficient notice has been provided
- To obtain written permission from your landlord if you want to sub-let or take in a lodger
- To give the agreed amount of notice to your landlord if you wish to terminate the agreement and leave the property
- Not to leave the property unoccupied for longer than 14 days without informing the landlord or managing agent.
- To know and be aware of the full terms of the tenancy agreement
- To know the name and address of the landlord
- To reside in a property that is in adequate condition for rental purposes, free from defects
- To receive reasonably prompt repairs and maintenance to damaged items
- To live in safe accommodation, with all equipment, gas and electrical systems meeting the required safety standards
- To have a Gas Safe Inspection Certificate undertaken annually and produced at the start of each tenancy
- To have peaceable and quiet enjoyment of the property, free from demands for access without prior notification, or interference with utilities or other supplies to the property
- To have a rent book, if the rent is payable on a weekly basis
- A reasonable (statutory) period of notice if the landlord wants the agreement to end
- To have the security deposit returned within a reasonable period of time (within 30 days) subject to the necessary checks on the property and up-to-date rental payments.
- To allow tenants to reside in the property without disturbance
- To make reasonably prompt repairs and undertake maintenance to the property if required
- To maintain the structure and exterior of the property, hot water installations and water supply, electrical wiring, basins, baths, sinks and toilets, etc.
- To ensure the building complies with building regulations
- To ensure that all gas appliances are safely maintained by Gas Safe registered engineers
- To make sure all electrical equipment is safe to use
- To provide furniture (if the property is furnished) that meets the necessary fire-resistant regulations
- To provide and maintain fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, fire escapes and smoke or heat alarms if required by law.
- To repossess the property if the rent remains unpaid for 14 days or more, where the tenant breaches the terms of the tenancy or becomes bankrupt, or enters into an arrangement with creditors
- To dispose of any property left at the premises unclaimed within a specified period of time
- If the tenancy contains a break clause, either the landlord or the tenant can exercise this after the first six months of the tenancy
- To enter the property after providing the tenant with reasonable notice of doing so (usually 24 hours)
- To seek possession of the property if the tenant has damaged it
- To collect overdue rent payments from the tenant.
Preparing to move in
So, all the paper work has been completed and it is time to move in. Your Landlord should give you a tenancy pack containing lease documents, Gas Safe Certs, EPC, EICR (Electrical cert) users manuals and contact details in case of any ongoing issues. Good luck!
So, you’ve come to the end of your time at the property then it’s worth putting in a bit of work to get the property up to scratch to maximise the chances of getting your full deposit back. As long as the condition of the property is the same as when you moved in (barring normal wear and tear), you’ll have no problem. Here’s what you should do:
- Give the property a thorough clean, including carpets, windows, walls and furniture
- If it’s your responsibility, tidy up the garden and clear away any rubbish and empty the bins
- Return all of the keys to the landlord
- Remove all of your personal belongings
- Be satisfied you’re leaving the property as you found it.
Final inventory/condition report check
You’ll have the opportunity to run through the inventory/condition report checklist on the day of departure. It’s important that this job is done before you leave the property to avoid you being accountable for any damage that occurs after you’ve left. If there is any damage, you should agree with the landlord the cost of repairing or replacing such items.
If an agreement cannot be reached as to the damage of particular items, which items have been damaged, or repair costs, then you should make sure you take photographs. Get your own repair cost estimates and write to the landlord with your findings and work towards a mutually agreeable solution.
If both you and the landlord are satisfied the property has been left in an acceptable state and you have made your final rental payment, there should be no problem getting your deposit back.
Please note this guide is for information only. In all cases, independent and professional advice should be sought before buying, selling, letting or renting property, or buying financial services products.