Legislation and housing advice

Here you'll find some of the terms and phrases relating to housing laws you need to be aware of if you are renting a property in the UK for the first time:

Tenancy agreements

If you are wishing to rent a flat through a private company/letting agency they will ask you to sign a Private Residential Tenancy (PRT). This will be open ended and will last until a tenant wishes to leave a property or a landlord uses grounds for eviction. If you are sharing with flatmates you are all jointly responsible for the rent, bills and the upkeep of the property.

Landlord registration

Private landlords and agents must register with their local authority to ensure that they are a fit and proper person for renting properties. Please check to ensure that your landlord or agent is registered before signing a tenancy agreement or paying a deposit for a flat. You can use the search facility on the Landlord Registration Scotland website.

Property licensing

If your property is being rented to three or more unrelated students, your landlord is required by law to have a house in multiple occupancy (HMO) licence. Houses in multiple occupancy must meet additional safety requirements and must include safety fittings, such as fire extinguishers, mains-wired smoke alarms and fire doors. To find out more about houses in multiple occupancy or contact 0131 200 2000.

Fire safety

You should make sure that smoke alarms are fitted and that furniture complies with the 1989 fire and furniture regulations.

Gas check

Landlords are required by law to have all gas appliances checked yearly to ensure that these are in safe working order. Please request a copy of this certificate before you sign a tenancy agreement.

Energy performance certificate (EPC)

To comply with EU legislation, all rental properties marketed in Scotland must have a valid energy performance certificate (EPC), which gives the property an energy rating. This shows you the energy efficiency of the property, so you have an idea of how much your energy bills might cost before you sign a tenancy agreement.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

If you have signed a tenancy agreement you will be asked to pay a security deposit which is held until the end date of the contract to cover any missing/ broken items or damage to the property. The deposit you pay must be held in the Tenancy Deposit Scheme.

Council tax

All full-time registered students are exempt from paying council tax. You can collect an exemption form from the Student Service Centre on campus.

Council tax is a bill that working people have to pay for the upkeep of the city (water rates, rubbish collection, roads, schools etc). The council tax rate is calculated per property (not per person) and varies depending on the size and age of the property. Find out more about council tax on the Edinburgh City Council website.

If your spouse or partner will be living with you and will be working, then they will be eligible to pay council tax (you will still be exempt though).

Be Safe and avoid Scams

Avoiding going on your own. Always take someone with you when you visit a flat.

If you arrange to meet someone over the internet to view a property, be doubly cautious - people on the internet aren’t necessarily who they say they are.

Don't pay any monies prior to viewing the flat and signing your tenancy agreement.

Make payments via a bank transfer, cheque or debit/credit card.

Always get the names of people you speak to on the phone and keep all correspondence, e.g. letters and emails.

More information and advice

For more information and housing advice, you can contact: