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Private Sector Tenants

This page provides information for Tenants of privately rented accommodation.

We can give advice if you're renting a property in West Lothian and keep you up to date with changing legislation so you understand your rights and responsibilities. If you require any further information or cant find the answer to your query please contact us.

Getting started

So you've decided you want to rent privately. Below are some handy tips at how to get started. Begin by choosing what kind of private rented housing you're interested in.  Look in newsletters, public message boards and online letting sites. Check how much the average rent in that area is for the kind of property you're interested in. Ask your current landlord or employer for a written reference in case a landlord asks for one.

Landlord registration is a system that helps councils monitor private landlords and ensure that they are suitable people to let out property. All private landlords now have an obligation to apply to the local council for registration and can be fined £50000 if they don't.

You can check if a landlord is registered online by visiting Landlord Registration (Scotland).

What to expect at viewings

When you first view a property its important to take your time to look around. Take time to ask about the location of:

  • The stop cock (mains water)
  • Trip switches/fuse boxes
  • Mains gas valve

Check :

  • How much the deposit is. This should be no more than two months rent
  • What type of tenancy they are offering you
  • Your landlord has the correct type of smoke alarms fitted in the property
  • Your landlord has a Gas Safety Record issued for the property
  • Your landlords has the electrical fittings checked by a qualified engineer, this is called a Electrical Installation Condition Report
  • Any furniture which the landlord supplies, adheres to the Furniture and Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988. There should be a symbol on your furniture to state that it is fire resistant.
  • Your landlord has supplied an EPC - Energy Performance Certificate. This lets you know how energy efficient the property is.
What to expect at sign ups

Your landlord or agent should give you a copy of the tenancy information pack before the sign up date. This gives clear guidance on what to expect when taking on a private let. It runs through your rights and responsibilities.

Once you have signed up your landlord or agent should have discussed and given you a copy of the following documents:

  • Tenant's Information Pack
  • AT5 - This is the document that legally creates a short assured tenancy and must be given to you before the tenancy agreement
  • Short Assured Tenancy Agreement
  • Inventory - This is a detailed description of the property and its contents when you move in. This is a very important tool at the end of the tenancy when applying for your deposit back through the relevant Tenancy Deposit Scheme

You will normally pay the first month's rent and the deposit on the day you move into the property. Make sure you get a receipt for any payments you make to your landlord. Your landlord has to register the deposit in one of three Tenancy Deposit Schemes, and inform you which one within 30 working days of your tenancy starting. If they haven't registered your deposit, remind your landlord. The Sheriff Court can order your landlord to do that and pay you up to three times the deposit.

Your rights and responsibilities

You must register with an electricity and/or gas companies as soon as you move in. It is your responsibility to make sure these are paid. You should contact our Revenues and Benefits Section to Register for Council Tax. You can do this online or by requesting a form using the details supplied.

Your landlord must insure the building and any belongings they have in the property. Tenants are responsible for insuring their own property.  The Repairing Standard is the standard of facilities and maintenance which all private rented accommodation must meet. You should find out more information regarding this in your Tenant's Information Pack.  If the property doesn't reach the Repairing Standard and the landlord refuses to carry out the necessary work, then tenants can take their landlord to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland Housing and Property Chamber. Depending on the nature of the disrepair, Environmental Health may be able to intervene directly.

Housing advice and support

West Lothian Home Choice is a support service for Private Tenants. Home Choice offer advice and assistance throughout your tenancy and can direct you to other departments within the local authority and external agencies who can help when we can't. For more information please have a look at the West Lothian Home Choice website or contact us using the details supplied.


The Renting Scotland website (funded by Scottish Government and Shelter Scotland) contains unbiased tools, guides, checklists and advice for both tenants and landlords.

Accessing benefits and debt support

You can find out if you might be entitled to claim Local Housing Allowance or any other benefits that might help you pay your rent or other housing costs. The Advice Shop can offer assistance to check this. You might be able to get help with your deposit. You can receive further information on both of these by contacting the details provided on this page.

For more information on the Private Sector, why not sign up for our Private Sector E-Newsletter.