Housing Issues | ECSA

Housing Issues

For a home to be fit to live in, it must meet a basic level of repair, also called the ‘tolerable standard’.

It should be structurally sound and have:

  • an indoor toilet
  • adequate ventilation, heating and light
  • adequate thermal insulation
  • sinks, wash basin and bath or shower with hot and cold running water
  • a proper entrance
  • no rising or penetrating damp
  • an electric supply that meets relevant safety regulations
  • good drainage and sewerage systems
  • satisfactory installations for cooking facilities

Furniture and fittings that are included with the property are generally the landlords responsibility but if you or guests cause accidental damage to any of these items you may be asked to pay for them.

Repairs and responsibilities vary between private and social landlords and you should always read your lease and tenants handbooks (if provided) for your conditions.

Being homeless doesn’t just meaning sleeping rough. You could be sofa surfing at friends and families homes, living in hostels or at risk of violence. There are many reasons why someone may be made homeless, whether its relationship breakdown, eviction, natural disaster or unsuitable living conditions.

Your first call should be to your council who can assess you and place you in temporary accommodation

If you are escaping violence or abuse there are also domestic violence and womens refuges such as Scottish Womens Aid.

The type of accommodation you need will depend on how much money you have, the size of your family and your personal circumstances.

For more information please check Shelter’s website

To avoid eviction and rent arrears getting bigger it’s important to deal with rent arrears quickly and maintain communication with your landlord.


You should check if you are entitled to any benefit and/or discretionary housing payments. Your claim should be backdated to the date you claim, although if you sufficient reasons for not claiming earlier it may get backdated up to 6 months.

You can find details of benefits calculators, which will help you see what you may be entitled to here


Its important to work out a budget and monitor your finances when dealing with any kind of debt, and even more so when dealing with rent arrears. There are lots of agencies and charities that can help you with this such as Citizens Advice Scotland.

Ways you can reduce your outgoings:

  • Reduce payments on things such as credit cards
  • Spending less on non-essential items
  • Switching to cheaper providers of electricity, gas, insurance, internet and phone
  • Use savings apps

Debt Arrangements

Work out with your landlord an arrangement to pay back arrears. Try to pay back only what you can afford to avoid not being able to stick to the arrangement. If you need assistance negotiating with your landlord you can speak to advisors at Shelter or Citizens Advice Scotland, who can then negotiate on your behalf.

To end any tenancy you must provide a landlord with notice, this varies depending on your situation and you should always check your tenancy agreement or contract for specifics such as the type

Social Housing

You must give four weeks notice in writing, to end your tenancy. If you are a joint tenant, your landlord will need your partners agreement before ending the tenancy.

If a tenant wishes to leave the joint tenancy they will have to give the other tenant and the landlord four weeks notice.

Private Lets

If you wish to end a private tenancy you will need to give the landlord a minimum 28 days notice, stating which day the tenancy will end. However you can negotiate a notice period with your landlord.

Leaving a joint tenancy in a private let ends the tenancy for everyone, so the landlord needs to ensure they have permission from all joint tenants, although there may be occasions where this doesn’t happen.

You may be able to come to an arrangement with the landlord where; remaining tenants remain in the property and are responsible for the extra rent or another person replaces the tenant that leaves.

Student Accommodation

Ending contracts in student accommodation depends on the provider and may have slightly different conditions such as early release from contract, or subletting. You should read your lease and contact your residence advisor. If you can’t come to an agreement with the landlord you may be liable to pay rent until the end of the contract.

Assured and Short Assured Tenancies

If your tenancy is an assured or short assured tenancy it is usually for a fixed term, for example 6 months and may renew at the end of the fixed term. Check your tenancy for your notice period, if none is stated then you need to give 28 day’s notice for tenancies less than four months or 40 days for longer tenancies.

Safety Checks

Most landlords will carry out safety checks on your property for things such as gas, carbon monoxide and electrical equipment.

Electrical checks should be carried out at least every five years or three years for HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy). They will; test all appliances, check for hazards and potential electrical shock risks, make sure wiring is safe and make sure circuits and equipment are not overloaded.

Gas safety and carbon monoxide checks should be carried out at least once per year, you need to ensure you allow access at this time otherwise your landlord can ‘enforce access’. During these checks they will check; gas appliances, gas pipework and ensure appliances have suitable ventilation. After the check you should be provided with a copy of the gas safety record.

Fire Safety

Ensure your home has at least one working fire alarm, and to check it regularly. There are lots of ways you can minimise risk of fire such as; not leaving candles or burners unattended, unplugging appliances that are not being used, ensuring adapters are not overloaded and not cooking while sleepy or drunk.

You can request a fire safety visit from your local fire and rescue service, they will advise you on precautions to take and fit a smoke alarm should you need it.

Crime and Security

Doors and windows should have suitable locks and be secured whenever you leave the property. Don't leave window keys in locks and never store spare door keys under mats or under pots Make sure other any other people you live with know where the keys are kept in case of emergency.

Try to keep valuables out of sight and securely discard packaging of new expensive goods. Remember to remove delivery notes that may have your address details.

Always ensure communal doors are closed securely behind you and never let anyone in anyone in that you do not know.

Be aware of bogus callers. Answer your door with chain on to strangers. Always ask for ID and if you are still unsure, close the door and contact the company. Or call the police

If you have a chronic illness, disability or are of retirement age you can be added to your electricity and gas suppliers priority register, through this you can; request a password for any engineers who may need to visit you and you will also be made a priority should anything happen to the gas or electricity supplies in your area.

Anti-Social Behaviour

No matter where you live you may experience anti-social behaviour from neighbours or other people in your neighbourhood.

Try to take into account that the person may not realise they're disturbing you or think that what they are doing is unreasonable. They may also not be able to control their behaviour through disability, behvioural problems or illness.

When dealing with any anti-social behaviour, try to be reasonable and see the other persons point of view and always stay calm

Keep a diary of incidents; try to include dates, times and names if possible

Try and talk things through initially, if you need to take one friend or family member. Don't approach your neighbour with lots of people, it may intimidate them.

If anti-social behaviour continues report it to your landlord, local council or if you are in danger contact the police.

There are some agencies that may be able to help mediate and allow you to come to a resolution with you neighbour.