Options for accessing the private rented sector
- Letting Agencies/Solicitors. These are private companies that carry out the day to day running of the tenancy and can help you find a suitable property to rent. Shelter Scotland provide advice on letting agencies.
- Flat share or Rooms to Rent/lodgings - this is where you would rent a room from the landlord but share communal areas such as the kitchen and lounge with other people that live with you in the house. This can be more affordable for those who find the cost of buying or renting a property too expensive to do alone. You can find details of rooms available on websites such as Room Buddies, Spareroom, etc. If using these sites please follow the rules and guidance. Argyll & Bute Council accepts no liability for the content or information held on the above websites
- Read the ‘accommodation to let’ sections of local newspapers. You can access local newspapers at local libraries or online.
- Place an advert in the ‘accommodation wanted’ sections of local newspapers.
- Check windows and noticeboards of local newsagents, supermarkets and small shops for adverts, or alternatively, place your own advert. Usually this is free of charge.
- Ask around: particularly in country areas where some private renting opportunities may be “advertised” by word of mouth.
All landlords must be registered with Argyll and Bute Council. To check that your landlord or prospective landlord is registered please contact Argyll & Bute Council on 01546 605 522 or check on the landlord registration site.
NOTE that it is an offence – for a landlord or agent to make any charge to a tenant or prospective tenant, other than the rent and a refundable deposit (maximum of 2 months’ rent).
Further Advice on Renting in the Private Sector
A helpful website to visit to get further information on renting privately is the Renting Scotland website. There is information on this site for both tenants and landlords and it includes a step by step guide to getting started renting, getting repairs done, ending a tenancy, etc.
What is a deposit?
A deposit is a sum of money which acts as security against:
- damage the tenant may do to the property, cleaning bills if the property is left in poor condition
- non-payment of rent
- bills that are left unpaid, for example fuel or telephone bills.
Your tenancy agreement should state what the deposit covers; the landlord cannot make deductions at the end of the tenancy for costs (such as bills or unpaid rent) that are not mentioned in the agreement. It is important that an inventory is drawn up before the tenancy starts, so that a comparison can be made when the tenancy ends (please see 'About Inventories'). A deposit cannot be used to pay for items that were damaged by the previous tenant or have been damaged or worn due to normal wear and tear.
How much is a deposit?
A deposit is usually one month’s rent, although could be up to a maximum of two months’ rent. Landlord and letting agents are not allowed to charge tenants or prospective tenants for other things such as drawing up a tenancy agreement or inventory. If you have been charged an illegal fee you may be able to claim it back.
What is a tenancy deposit scheme?
Most private landlords are required to pay deposits they collect into a tenancy deposit scheme. The tenancy deposit scheme protects your deposit and if there is a dispute about the return of the deposit at the end of the tenancy they will provide help to resolve it. The date the deposit must be paid into a scheme varies depending on when the deposit was paid. You can check when your deposit must be protected by contacting Shelter Scotland. Your landlord has to register your deposit within 30 days of receiving it (if paid after 2 October 2012) with one of the available schemes. There will be no cost involved with registering your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme. If you pay a deposit and your landlord doesn't register it, then you can apply to the sheriff court and the court can order the landlord to pay you up to three times the amount of the deposit. You can do this up to three months after the tenancy has ended. Your landlord must give you the following information about your deposit:
- How much - the amount of the deposit
- Dates - the date they received the deposit and the date they paid the deposit into a scheme
- Address - of the property that the deposit relates to
- Landlord registration - a statement from your landlord confirming they are registered
- Which scheme - the name and contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme where the deposit was paid
- Terms - the conditions in which all, or part, of your deposit can be kept at the end of the tenancy.
There are three tenancy deposit schemes in operation:
How do I get my deposit back?
At the end of the tenancy your landlord will apply to the tenancy deposit scheme to have the deposit repaid. This can include a claim for deductions to be made. You will be contacted by the scheme to find out if you agree with the amount to be returned to you. If there is a dispute regarding the amount to be returned you can apply to the tenancy deposit schemes dispute resolution process. The dispute will be referred to an independent adjudicator, who will be handed any evidence that has been submitted. The adjudicator will come to a decision and if you are not happy with the amount of the deposit that is to be returned then you can ask for a review. However, after a review the decision made will be final and binding on both parties.
Further information is available on the Scottish Government website.
If you are struggling to pay the deposit required, the Council may be able to help through the Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme.
Argyll and Bute Council Rent Deposit Guarantee Scheme
will be assessed according to their individual circumstances. The Rent Deposit
Guarantee Scheme aims to help people who urgently need accommodation to access
housing opportunities in the private rented sector.
The ‘Deposit Guarantee’ is a guarantee underwritten by Argyll & Bute Council which is issued as an alternative to a cash deposit.
The 'Deposit Guarantee' will have an equivalent value of 4 weeks rent and is valid for the length of the tenancy.
Assistance with Rent
Depending on your income level and circumstances, you may be entitled to assistance towards your rent in the form of Housing Benefit. In the private sector these payments are referred to as Local Housing Allowance(LHA).
If you are unsure if you may be entitled to Local Housing Allowance you can visit the benefits section of the GOV.UK website. This site also has a benefits advisor section and you can complete this to find out what benefits you would be entitled to.
Please note that different local authority areas may have different limits of Local Housing Allowance. You can also request assistance with this by contacting the Housing Benefits Department of Argyll & Bute Council on 01546 605 522.