Scottish Renters Guide: Make Sure Your Home Is Safe
If you’re a first-time renter, there is more to a house or flat than simply looks and space; you need to think about safety.
While, yes, it’s not always the most comfortable conversation, you need to remember that you pick your landlord; they do not pick you. So it’s important to make sure that you have vetted out a landlord that will ensure your house remains safe.
While this is hugely important for your own safety, it’s also key as your home has numerous legal requirements that must be met.
Safety and stability in a rented property are of huge importance, so consider the following as a checklist for viewing homes and meeting landlords.
A Legitimate Lease
First and foremost, an under the table handshake deal is not okay. You need to sign a proper lease for your sake and your landlord’s sake. If you don’t, you can get in trouble with the law as you will have to pay council tax, which relies on a lease.
While it may seem tempting to get a great deal on a perfect rental, you need to do it legitimately for your own sake and safety.
Leases will also protect you from immediate and wrongful expulsion from your home as your landlord will have to give both reason and notice under a lease. It can be common for some landlords to progress without a lease, as this gives them more power over their property and your situation.
Also, and this goes for any walk of life, always read your contract in full before signing it. Being educated on your terms and conditions for renting a property is vital to avoid misunderstandings during or tenancy.
Gas Safe Boiler
You need a functional, but more importantly, a safe boiler as, after all, it’s Scotland, so you will be using it a lot.
Ask potential landlords whether the boiler is Gas Safe approved and how recently it has been officially serviced. While it isn’t a legal requirement to have a Gas Safety certificate, it’s really important for your safety to ensure that your boiler remains safe.
An older boiler or poorly maintained boiler doesn’t just pose a risk to the property but also your own health and wellbeing. Make sure your landlord stays on top of its maintenance.
Interlinked Alarm System
As of 2022, it will be a legal requirement to have an interlinked smoke and heat alarm system; if you do not, there could be fines.
If you are moving into a home that does not yet meet the requirements, it is the responsibility of your landlord to make sure that it does before the deadline.
If they are unaware of the regulations and how to meet them, point them in the direction of experienced professionals, like AC Gold, who offer several resources on the new legislation and can install and service interlinked alarm systems.
It isn’t just about the new legislation. These interlinked alarm systems could very well save your life and the lives of your neighbours in the event of an emergency situation.
Secure Doors And Windows
Regardless of the standard of the neighbourhood, it is a legal requirement for landlords to provide a reasonably safe home.
That means that the doors and windows should be able to resist forced entry, so if doors and windows seem flimsy, they simply will not do.
This means that all your doors and windows (or any access point) should have a lock mechanism or a way to prevent any unsanctioned guests.
“I’ll Get That Sorted”
A landlord saying they will sort something is one thing, actually doing it is something else. You need to make sure that they intend to meet legal requirements to ensure your safety.
Whether that’s proof of future installation or a clause in your lease agreement, you need to do your part to make sure you aren’t being taken advantage of by your landlord.
A good step is to educate yourself on tenant rights and responsibilities, as well as the rights and responsibilities of your landlord. You don’t need to become a lawyer overnight, but knowing who is responsible for what can also be a barrier to potential landlord exploitation.
There are plenty of online resources to aid you with this, and a good place to start is the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
A Final Note
Don’t let savvy landlords exploit your lack of knowledge of tenancy law. Stay educated, up to date with your rights and responsibilities, and ensure the property you inhabit is safe.
No matter how trivial an issue may seem, it is important to reach a reasonable, legal understanding with whoever manages the property.