Private Renting | ECSA

Private Renting

If you are hoping to find a private rental property, there are some important things you should consider when viewing properties and signing your contract.

Visit Shelter for in-depth information on all stages of the rental property process, from searching to applying to ending your tenancy. They also have advice on what your rights and responsibilities are as a tenant and what you can expect from your landlord or letting agent.

If you’ve been looking at property listings, you may have noticed a few abbreviations or terms that you’re not familiar with. Thanks to Shelter, here is some common jargon explained for you:

  • GCH = gas central heating
  • WM = white meter for electricity
  • WC = water closet (toilet)
  • N/S = no smoking
  • No DSS = usually prefixed by the word 'sorry', this means that the landlord doesn't want tenants who will be claiming housing benefit
  • DG = double glazing
  • EPC = Energy Performance Certificate, this must also be included in adverts for private rented housing and should give you an idea of how expensive the property might be to heat
  • EIR = Environmental Impact (CO2) Rating, usually seen alongside an EPC chart.
  • LR = Landlord Registration
  • CT = council tax
  • PCM = per calendar month
  • PW = per week
  • lge = large
  • sm = small
  • rm = room
You can find private rental accommodation on a lot of websites, including via sites such as Gumtree where you may deal directly with the landlord rather than an agent. In all cases you should adhere to the following safety guidelines, but be particularly cautious when using Gumtree or similar websites.
  • Always make sure to visit the property before sending any money or signing any contracts.
  • Check the landlord’s registration number on the Scottish Landlord Register.
  • Take someone with you when visiting the property, or make sure someone is aware where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and when you expect to be back.
  • Familiarise yourself with the government-published Model Tenancy Agreement so you know what to expect when you get to that stage.
  • Be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a private tenant.
  • Always make sure you have your landlord’s contact details – or at least their name if you are renting through a letting agency.
  • If the property has a gas supply, check that it has carbon monoxide alarms installed.
  • Read your tenancy agreement thoroughly and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
There is a vast array of property listings available online at all times. Some are very detailed and some are sparse with almost no information. Here are a few things you should look for in a property listing:
  • •Does it have multiple pictures of the property, ideally including pictures of each room?
  • Does it have a good description of the layout, rooms, and any furniture provided?
  • Are the rent and deposit amounts made clear?
  • Does the ad list the council tax band?
  • Are the landlord/letting agent registration numbers listed?
  • Is the location of the property on the ad? (The full address may not be present, but the area and usually the first half the postcode will be.)
  • Does it have a contact listed and/or a reference to quote?
It can be difficult to navigate the rental process if you’re not familiar with it. Here is an outline of fees you should expect:
  • Deposit – usually a deposit is one month’s rent, but you could be asked for up to two months’ rent. It is illegal for landlords or letting agents to ask for more. Your deposit should be held in a tenancy deposit scheme (e.g. MyDeposits Scotland) for your whole tenancy.
  • Rent – obviously you will need to pay your rent! It is common for rent to be paid via standing order so there is no physical cash exchanged. However, if you do pay via cash or any other method, ensure you receive a receipt for each payment.
  • Deposit deductions – at the end of your tenancy, your deposit should be returned to you. The landlord or letting agent may make deductions for repairs or cleaning if they feel the property has not been left in the same state as it was handed over. You can come to an agreement with the landlord or you can submit a dispute to your tenancy deposit scheme if you feel they are not reasonable.
  • Rent increases – your landlord can increase your rent, but only once every 12 months. They must give you three months’ notice of the increase. If you feel the increase is unfair, you can refer it to your local rent officer within 21 days of receiving the increase notice.

There are a number of fees which are illegal to charge in Scotland that you may come across with unscrupulous letting agents or landlords:

  • Administration fees – for carrying out paperwork or gathering references.
  • Key money
  • Third-party charges – if you are asked to use a third-party service which requires you to pay a fee, don’t!
  • Guarantor fees – to draw up a guarantor’s deed.
  • Check out fees – fees paid to an inventory company to carry out an inventory.
  • Additional person fee – to carry out paperwork for additional applicants.
  • Credit check charges

This is an example Energy Efficiency Rating chart alongside an Environmental Impact Rating chart, which can be found on a property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

The property will be rated from A-G (A being the best, G the worst) on each scale, depending on how energy efficient and environmentally friendly the fixtures used are.

For example, if a property is well-insulated, has double glazing, and uses energy-saving lightbulbs, it is likely to be rated higher on both scales than if it is not insulated, single-glazed, and has light bulbs that use more energy.

You can use this chart as a rough indication of how much your gas and electric bills will be each month. The better the rating for the property is, the cheaper your bills are likely to be as you won’t using as much gas or electric to heat the property up.