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Read more information on the property market and COVID-19.
LAST UPDATED: Monday 2nd November at 11am
COVID-19 information for landlords
Here is some advice for landlords during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will update this page as regularly as we are able to with new information and the latest advice.
The First Minister announced that restrictions on the property market would be eased from the 29th June. Read the full guidance on house moves from the Scottish Government.
On 2nd November, the Scottish Government implemented a new five tier approach to restrictions in order to curb Coronavirus outbreaks. However, they have confirmed that their guidance on moving home applies and homes moves are permitted across all protection levels.
Can a landlord or letting agent access a rental property?
Yes, if necessary, landlords and letting agents can access rental properties. Any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing.
Letting agents and landlords should ask whether any member of a tenant’s household is showing symptoms, or has been asked to self-isolate, before going ahead with any visits to properties. If they are, the visit should be re-arranged for when they are well and have completed the necessary self-isolation period.
Can tenants view a rental property now?
Yes, in person viewings can be arranged for rental properties. Any visits to a property must be made in accordance with the Scottish Government guidelines on physical distancing.
However, private landlords and letting agents should not conduct viewings in properties where tenants are showing symptoms or self-isolating, or where it has been determined that they are shielding.
The Scottish Government has advised that virtual viewings should be carried out where possible, with physical viewings only where there is a strong interest in letting.
All parties viewing a property should wash their hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser immediately after entering the properties, with internal doors opened and surfaces having been wiped down before they enter. Separate towels or paper towels should be used . Parties involved in the viewing may also wish to consider wearing a face covering.
Can I allow tenants to move into a rental property?
Yes, people are able to move into properties. They must ensure they follow government guidance on social distancing during the full moving process.
Following the new tier approach, house moves can still go ahead.
Can I organise repairs on my rental property during lockdown?
Where possible, essential repairs, gas and electrical safety checks and energy performance assessments should be conducted in the period between a property being vacated and a new tenant moving in. If this is not possible, and visits are needed to an occupied property, this should be done by appointment with measures put in place to ensure physical contact is minimised, for example with residents staying in another room during the visit.
How are landlords’ legal obligations to provide gas, electrical and fire safety inspections affected?
Landlords should make every effort to abide by gas, electrical and fire safety requirements, which continue to be of great importance for tenants’ safety. This may be more difficult due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, for example where a tenant has COVID-19 symptoms, is self-isolating or shielding.
Under such circumstances, provided the landlord can demonstrate they have taken reasonable steps to comply, they would not be in breach.
These checks should be arranged for as soon as possible.
As a landlord should I stop charging rent?
Rent will still be due under the terms of the tenancy agreement and for tenants able to do so, rent should continue to be paid as normal.
There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach, as each tenant’s circumstances are different. Some may be worse affected in terms of their ability to pay than others. It is important for landlords to be flexible and have a frank and open conversation with their tenants at the earliest opportunity, to allow both parties to agree a sensible way forward.
How can I support my tenant if they're having difficulty paying rent?
It is important you encourage your tenants to contact you as soon as possible if they are in, or think they will be, in financial difficulty and unable to pay their rent.
Tenants affected by coronavirus who are concerned about paying their rent can claim Universal Credit from the Department for Work and Pensions which includes support for housing costs, if eligible.
On 5th May, the Scottish Government announced a £5 million fund that will offer interest-free loans to landlords whose tenants are having difficulty paying rent during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The Private Rent Sector Landlord COVID-19 Loan Scheme will offer eligible landlords up to 100% of lost rental income for a single property.
It will support private-sector landlords who are not classified as businesses, have five or less properties to rent and have lost rental income due to tenants unable to pay rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can I evict a tenant if they don’t pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
It has been made clear that no landlord should evict a tenant because they have suffered financial hardship due to Covid-19. We expect landlords to be flexible with tenants facing financial hardship and signpost them to the sources of financial support available below:
I am struggling with payments on my buy-to-let mortgage – what should I do?
Mortgage lenders have offered payment holidays. It is best to speak to your lender directly to discuss your options at the earliest possible opportunity.
Landlord responsibilites in Scotland
Looking for advice on your responsibilities as a landlord? We’ve compiled a handy landlord checklist including information on legislation, property tax payable on your buy-to-let purchase and property maintenance. If you need more information, ESPC Lettings is an expert letting agent based in Edinburgh and we provide free advice for private landlords so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Our dedicated team of staff are committed to delivering excellent customer service and trained to be able to offer free advice for private landlords on all aspects of the letting industry.
With our in-depth industry knowledge and access to extensive property market data from ESPC, we will work to get the maximum return on investment for landlords. We provide a full range of letting services and don’t charge upfront costs.
Our small team of letting experts pride themselves on first class customer service, making us one of the best letting agents in Edinburgh. But don’t just take our word for it – check our reviews from our landlords to see for yourself.
We provide everything from free advice for landlords to a fully managed property service, and everything in between! Get in touch today to find out how we can help with your rental properties.
Unsure of your legal obligations as a landlord? Here are the main things to be aware of.
1. Landlord registration
If you’re wondering whether you need to register as a landlord in Scotland, the answer is yes. All owners of a rental property need to register as private landlords. This can be done online.
2. Tenancy deposit scheme
All deposits paid by tenants must be placed in one of three Scottish Tenancy Deposit Schemes (TDS): Safe Deposit Scotland, My Deposits Scotland or Letting Protection Service.
ESPC Lettings use Safe Deposit Scotland, and we will ensure your tenants deposit is correctly lodged in the Tenant Deposit Scheme.
3. Gas and electrical safety certificates
All rental properties must have the following checks carried out to ensure they are safe for tenants:
- Gas Certificate - all gas appliances must be checked on an annual basis and a certificate must be in place to show all appliances are safe for use
- Portable Appliance Test (PAT) - all electrical appliances that are portable (e.g. toaster, washing machine) must be checked annually and a certificate provided to show that they too are safe for use
- Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) - wiring and sockets must be checked on a regular basis and we recommend to our Landlords that this is carried out every three years.
4. Smoke alarms
In order to comply with the repairing standard the following should be adhered to:
- One functioning smoke alarm in the room which is frequently used by the occupants for general daytime living purposes (normally the living room/lounge)
- One heat alarm in every kitchen
- All alarms should be ceiling mounted
- One functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space on each storey, such as hallways and landings, or in main room if no landing in the upper storey
- All alarms should be interlinked
- Mains-operated alarms (with battery backup) are permitted, and tamper proof/sealed/long-life lithium battery alarms (i.e. not PP3 type or user-replaceable) are also permitted – the expiry date should be visible on each alarm
- Alarms can be interlinked via wires (hardwired) or wirelessly (by radio communication).
5. Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
All properties must have an EPC before the property can be advertised. If you have a Home Report you will find a copy of the EPC within this report. An EPC is valid for 10 years.
6. Legionella risk assessment
It a legal requirement to have a risk assessment for legionella carried out in all rented properties. The risk assessment should identify any areas where legionella bacteria could grow and if treatment is required. To stay compliant, landlords should employ a “competent” person to conduct the risk assessment who can make recommendations if a risk is identified.
As the owner of the property you are responsible for insuring the building. You may choose to arrange insurance for any contents you may have in the property, anything belonging to your tenant is their responsibility to insure.
As an expert letting agent in Edinburgh, ESPC Lettings can help you meet your legal obligations as a landlord and provide advice when needed. Get in touch to find out how we can help.
As a landlord, the issue of tax can be an overwhelming one. Here we break it down into sections, so you understand the tax you are required to pay on your properties. You can also read our page on landlord tax requirements.
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT)
Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) applies to property transactions in Scotland.
It is usually the solicitor who is acting on the buyer’s behalf who will complete the return and facilitate the payment. The amount of LBTT payable depends on the price of the property that has been purchased.
Use ESPC’s LBTT calculator to find out how much tax is likely to be paid on a property.
Additional Dwelling Supplement Tax (ADS)
The Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) is a tax on the purchase of an additional residential properties (such as buy-to-let and second homes) of £40,000 or more. The current rate is charged at 4% of the total purchase price.
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Income tax for landlords
If you’re a landlord, you’ll need to pay tax on your rental income. We spoke to tax specialists for their tips on completing a self-assessment form as a landlord.
If you are renting out a property or numerous properties, they will require maintenance from time to time. If you have questions such as “How often should a landlord refurbish a property?” or “What is considered maintenance on rental property?”, ESPC Lettings can help.
The team has plenty of experience in taking care of rental properties and offers a fully managed property service, so you don’t have to worry about dealing with maintenance issues yourself. We will keep you updated as to maintenance costs and what needs done in your property, so you are kept informed at all stages.
Get in touch with ESPC Lettings to get advice about property maintenance and find out more about our full property management service.
You can also drop in to the ESPC Property Information Centre to chat to one of the team. View the timetable of when we provide free buy-to-let advice.
Landlord tips and insights
Tenancy agreement: what you need to know
When renting a property, tenancy agreement is a crucial part in the process. Find out more about your rights and obligations as a tenant.
Decorating a rental house or flat: top tips for landlords
Decorating a rental property can be quite different from decorating your own home. Nicky Lloyd at ESPC Lettings provides top tips for landlords on how to decorate a rental house or flat.
Tax charges on second properties
Owning a second property as a holiday home or as a landlord has long been attractive to investors. However, you need to be clear on the tax charges you could face on purchasing a second property. Claire Maxwell, Tax Senior Manager at Johnston Carmichael, takes a look at LBTT and the recently increased Additional Dwelling Supplement.
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ESPC Lettings are accredited with Landlord Accreditation Scotland.