The GULS Law Review

Getting you through the GU law degree!

header photo

Finding and Keeping Your Flat

 Written by the GULR team

To all those on the move during the summer months; we wish you the best of luck, and extend to you a short checklist which may come in handy when making and maintaining the right choice of flat…


1.  Is your landlord a criminal?

Many difficulties can stem from the “dodgy landlord”, and a simple check of public records can provide an early warning. All owners of residential property which is let in out Scotland must register with the local authority to ensure that they are a “fit and proper” person to let their property, and failure to do so is a criminal offence entailing a generous fine (up to £50,000). This includes landlords who are living abroad. If an agency is letting a property for a landlord, this must also be stated. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as when the owner is resident in the same property being let out. The local authority must be provided with details of a previous revocation of license or registration or if needs be relevant unspent convictions!

The register is available at Note though that a landlord may not show on the list pending their application or if their properties are exempt, although reasons for refusal or removal from the register must be made available on request.

 2. Paying the deposit: where did all my money just go?

The bane of student bank accounts, the deposit serves as security against outstanding bills, damage to property and furniture and cleaning required when your tenancy ends. The amount asked for by the landlord or agent by law must not exceed two months’ rent, and payments requested on renewal of a lease are also illegal.

A landlord or agent must pay tenancy deposits into an approved tenancy deposit scheme, and provide details about the scheme to you within 30 working days from the start of the tenancy. When your tenancy ends the deposit is returned to you by the scheme administrator; however a landlord can make reductions to meet whatever costs they deem appropriate…

 3. House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

A House in Multiple Occupation is a living accommodation that is occupied as principle residence by three or more unrelated persons. The scheme is intended to allow local authorities to impose a range of benchmark standards on accommodation, such as fire safety, furnishings and basic amenities such as water, electricity, heating and gas. It is a criminal offence for someone (including an agent acting on behalf) to operate an HMO without a license, again with a fine, albeit up to £20,000. 

There are however complexities with the term “unrelated persons”; which is defined as three people sharing a property who are all tenants, unrelated to each other and not in the same family. “Family members” include unmarried couples or same-sex couples, which foreseeably in some instances may be difficult to prove. 

HMO owners are listed on the above mentioned publicly available register of landlords, with their contact address and properties owned.

 4. Council Tax

 Don’t get lazy with this as you can enjoy drinking tap water for free until you start working full-time. Students living in halls of residence or a property occupied solely by students are exempt from Council Tax. The rules are a little more complicated if students live with non-students who are employed or live with a partner. Generally, students should attend a higher educational institute on a full time basis. It’s the job of the local authority to find out whether a property is exempt, and they will notify you if you’re deemed liable. You will have 21 days to respond to a notice, subject to appeal if needs be, and penalties apply if you don’t supply information requested. Of course, if you’re incorrectly billed, you can have the tax refunded.

 5. “It was like that when we got here.” Repairs

The landlord has to ensure that all “common” parts of the building; stairs, entrance halls are in good repair, although it will be your job as tenant to keep them clean.  The landlord is further responsible for repairing the exterior of the house, water, gas, electrical and heating supplies, damp and also anything written down on the tenancy agreement (so make sure you read it thoroughly before signing). As of 2007, a new “repairing standard” came into force for most private sector tenancies adding further obligations upon landlords; to inspect a property before the tenancy begins and to fit suitable furnishings fit for purpose, provide appliances in good working order and install a fire detection system. These obligations can be added to but never ruled out by a tenancy agreement.

If problems do arise, the most important thing to do is gather evidence! Photos, dated, of anything out of place when you first move in will prevent a dispute and potential loss of your deposit. Make sure your landlord gives you an inventory list and return a signed copy. If your landlord is subject to the repairing standard and fails to respond to your complaints, you can apply to the Private Rented Housing Panel to enforce their obligations. This is done in writing, and more information can be found at

 Useful Websites

Citizens’ Advice Scotland:

Renting Scotland:  

Shelter Scotland:

Glasgow University Residential Services:

Go Back