Landlords Handbook: Obligations and Rights in the Edinburgh Rental Market 

Clan Gordon is an award-winning letting agent voted one of the best at managing properties and securing tenants in Scotland and Edinburgh.

If you’re considering becoming a landlord in Edinburgh, it’s essential to understand the registration process and the responsibilities that come with managing rental properties. Registering as a landlord is a legal obligation. 

This comprehensive guide will walk you through each step of the letting process, providing valuable insights and practical tips along the way. Whether you’re new to property management or an experienced property investor, this guide from Clan Gordon will give you the knowledge necessary for successful renting in the city of Edinburgh. 

Registering as a landlord with The City of Edinburgh Council 

Before you can rent out a property in Edinburgh, you must register as a landlord with The City of Edinburgh Council. This straightforward process helps maintain standards in the private rented sector and promotes safe and well-managed housing for tenants. 

To begin the registration process, visit the official website of Landlord Registration Scotland. Here, you’ll find all the necessary information and forms needed to complete your registration. 

If there are joint owners of the property, each owner must register separately and be linked to the specific property. Ensure that all owners complete their individual registrations correctly and accurately.  

If you choose to engage Clan’s Gordon’s services when letting your property, you’ll need to add Clan Gordon as your agent for the property when registering. Our Letting Agent Registration Number is LARN1806018.  

I have been with Clan Gordon for about 7 years. I found them very supportive and helpful always. They made sure all maintenance issues was carried out well always and timely. The agents working have always been helpful and wonderful to speak to. Moving in and out of the property was made smooth and easy by them.

Robyn - All Agents Review 

Electronically signing the agency agreement 

Once you have completed the landlord registration process, you will receive an email containing the agency agreement that requires your electronic signature. This agreement outlines the terms of your partnership with Clan Gordon and establishes the framework for their role as your agent. 

Be sure to carefully review the agreement before signing. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to Clan Gordon for clarification. Once you are satisfied, sign the agreement electronically to proceed with the next steps. 

To ensure a secure and trustworthy landlord-tenant relationship, Clan Gordon employs a third-party service called AmiqusID to perform identity checks. This process helps verify your identity as a landlord while ensuring the confidentiality and safety of personal documents. 

Once you receive instructions from Clan Gordon, complete the ID check through the secure AmiqusID platform. You will also need to upload proof of address and any other relevant documents required for verification. Rest assured that all information is handled appropriately and stored securely. 

Providing keys for marketing the property 

Before Clan Gordon can begin marketing your property, we require four working sets of keys. For non-HMO (House of Multiple Occupation) properties, two tenant sets and two management sets are sufficient. However, HMO properties necessitate one set for each tenant and two management sets. 

It’s important to clearly label any additional keys provided, such as those for garages, padlocks, windows, or patio doors. Leave these labelled keys in the property to facilitate smooth access and avoid confusion during viewings or maintenance visits. 

Ensuring the right landlord insurance 

As a responsible landlord, it is crucial to adequately insure your rental property. Standard insurance policies often fall short of providing the necessary level of coverage required for rental properties. Therefore, specific landlord’s building insurance is essential to protect your investment. 

While you may already have a landlord buildings policy, it is worth exploring Clan Gordon’s block insurance policy. Not only does it provide better coverage than many policies on the market, but it also streamlines the claims process, making it easier for you to manage any potential claim. Get in touch with our team to request a quote and compare prices and levels of cover. 

Understanding non-resident landlord obligations 

If you live outside of the UK for six months or more per year, you are classified as a non-resident landlord by HMRC, even if you are a UK resident for tax purposes. It’s important to understand your obligations and comply with the necessary requirements. 

Visit the official government website to find detailed information regarding non-resident landlord regulations. If you choose to pay tax on your rental income through Self Assessment, complete form NRL1 and return it to HMRC. Clan Gordon’s agency number is NA043399. Once your tax affairs are up to date, an exemption certificate from HMRC will be sent to Clan Gordon, confirming your status as a non-resident landlord. 

However, if you decide not to register as a non-resident landlord, Clan Gordon is obliged to deduct basic rate tax from your rent and remit it to HMRC on your behalf after accounting for relevant expenses.  

As a tenant who has been with many letting agents over the years, I can honestly say that Clan Gordon are the best agency I have been with.  Even at the viewing stage for my flat, I want to say thanks to Euan, who made arrangements for a virtual viewing when I couldn’t make the physical viewing at the last minute!

Somebody from the agency also showed me round on my first day (I can’t remember who, sorry!), which I’ve never had before and it was so helpful. Please keep doing this! The only improvement I would suggest is a better explanation of how the boiler/heating worked, as I struggled with this at the start.

When I had an issue with the locks on my flat door, the reporting system made it easy to log an issue. Thank you to Anna as my property manager who was so quick to resolve these issues and questions I had throughout my stay.  Even at the end of my tenancy, I’d get replies to my questions within minutes, which I really appreciated.  It’s so rare to find such a helpful agency, and I would definitely recommend Clan Gordon as one of the best for tenants in Edinburgh. Please keep doing what you’re doing! 🙂

Catherine - All Agents Review

Getting your property ready for renting 

Before advertising your property, take the time to prepare it thoroughly to attract quality tenants and set the stage for a successful tenancy.  

The value of renovating your property 

Renovations can significantly impact the desirability and rental yield of your property. By ensuring your property is in top condition and creating a great first impression, you’ll attract more tenants who are likely to stay longer and take better care of the space. 

Clan Gordon offers project management services for a variety of renovation works, including decoration, flooring installation or sanding, boiler or heating replacement, joinery snagging, plumbing works, kitchen and bathroom renovations, fitting blinds and curtains, as well as window refurbishment and replacement.  

With our expertise and network of trusted contractors, you can achieve the desired results efficiently and effectively. 

Recommended renovation services provided by Clan Gordon 

To make your property shine, consider enlisting Clan Gordon’s assistance with any necessary renovations. Our team of experts can provide guidance and carry out various tasks to enhance the appeal and functionality of your property. 

Whether it’s freshening up the interior with a new coat of paint, upgrading flooring to create a modern look, replacing outdated fixtures and appliances in the kitchen or bathroom, or improving overall aesthetics with thoughtful design choices, Clan Gordon property maintenance partners have the skills and resources to bring your vision to life. 

Importance of cleaning before marketing 

Cleanliness is crucial when marketing a rental property. Ensure that the property is spotless, creating an inviting space for potential tenants to envision themselves living in. A clean property demonstrates professionalism and care, fostering a positive first impression. 

By hiring professional cleaners or thoroughly cleaning the property yourself, you set the stage for successful viewings and increase the chances of attracting quality tenants who will treat your property with respect. 

Deciding whether or not to furnish your property 

Determining whether to furnish your rental property depends on various factors, such as target tenant demographics, location and market demand. Carefully considering these factors will help guide your decision and maximise the appeal of your property. 

Factors to consider for furnishing 

When deciding how to present your property, take into account factors such as the local rental market, the target tenant profile and current trends. Understanding these elements will help you make an informed decision about furnishing options. 

For instance, properties in Edinburgh city centre or near universities tend to attract tenants who value convenience and prefer furnished accommodations. On the other hand, unfurnished properties may appeal to long-term tenants with their own furniture or those seeking a blank canvas to personalise themselves. 

By considering these factors, you can tailor your property’s presentation to target the right tenant demographic, enhancing its marketability and maximising your return on investment. 

What to include in an unfurnished property 

In an unfurnished property, certain essential items should be provided to ensure the comfort and functionality of the space. These items typically include: 

  • Kitchen appliances: Fridge/freezer, oven, hob, and washing machine. If space allows, consider adding a dishwasher and tumble dryer. 
  • Television aerial or satellite dish (if applicable): Make sure they are working correctly if provided. 
  • Additional items: Ensure that curtains and/or blinds are clean and in good working order. Bedrooms benefit from blackout curtains/blinds for optimal sleep quality. Light pendants and fittings should also be clean, and shades properly fitted. Lastly, provide a ladder for tenants to safely change lightbulbs and test smoke alarms when required. 

Including these items ensures that tenants have the essentials needed for day-to-day living while allowing them to furnish the space according to their personal tastes. 

What to include in a furnished property 

For furnished properties, it is crucial to provide the necessary furniture and equipment to create a comfortable and functional living environment. In addition to the items mentioned above for unfurnished properties, consider including the following: 

  • Kitchen: Microwave, kettle, toaster, and rubbish bin. 
  • Living room: Sofa/chairs, coffee table, side tables. 
  • Dining area: Dining table with chairs. 
  • Bedrooms: Bed, mattress, mattress protector, headboard, bedside cabinets, chest of drawers, wardrobe. 
  • Vacuum cleaner: Ensure it is in good condition with clean filters and an empty bag. 
  • Miscellaneous: Remove all personal and decorative items, such as pictures, photo frames, and ornaments. Ensure that the provided furniture complies with the Furniture & Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations 1988. 

By furnishing your property thoughtfully, you create an inviting space for tenants while complying with safety regulations and ensuring their comfort during their tenancy. 

Obtaining Safety Certificates for Your Rental Property 

As a responsible landlord, it is crucial to meet safety legislation requirements and provide a safe living environment for your tenants. To achieve this, certain safety certificates and devices are necessary before tenants can move into your rental property. 

Every rental property must comply with basic safety requirements. However, additional safety certificates may be required depending on the property type and layout. Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) have specific safety standards that must be met. Clan Gordon can guide you through these additional requirements if applicable to your property. 

Here is an overview of some essential safety certificates: 

Gas Safety Certificate (GSC) 

A Gas Safety Certificate checks the condition of all gas appliances within the property. It must be carried out annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer. The certificate should be kept for two years, and a copy must be given to the tenants. Additionally, any spaces containing a combustion device should have Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors installed, except those solely used for cooking. 

Clan Gordon works with trusted Gas Safe registered engineers who can perform the necessary checks and issue Gas Safety Certificates promptly. 

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) 

Portable Appliance Testing involves checking the safety of electrical appliances, including integrated white goods. Appliances must undergo testing annually, and certificates should be kept for six years. Copies of the certificate must also be given to the tenants. This ensures that all electrical equipment in the property is safe to use. 

Clan Gordon collaborates with qualified professionals who specialise in Portable Appliance Testing, ensuring your property’s electrical safety compliance. 

Legionella Risk Assessment (LRA) 

A Legionella Risk Assessment is required to evaluate the risk of exposure to Legionella bacteria. Clan Gordon can arrange for an LRA to be carried out and renewed annually if necessary. Any remedial work required to mitigate risks will also be promptly arranged, providing peace of mind to both landlords and tenants. 

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) 

The Electrical Installation Condition Report examines the overall condition of all electrical installations in the property. It must be conducted by a qualified electrician at least once every five years. The report should be kept for six years, and a copy given to the tenants. Clan Gordon partners with trusted electricians who can perform thorough EICRs to ensure your property’s electrical systems are safe and compliant. 

Fire Detection and Alarms 

To protect tenants from fire hazards, specific requirements for fire detection and alarms must be met. For example: 

  • Mains-operated smoke alarms or tamper-proof/sealed/long-life lithium battery alarms should be installed. 
  • There should be one functioning smoke alarm in the room frequently used for general daytime living purposes (typically the living room/lounge). 
  • Additionally, there should be one functioning smoke alarm in every circulation space on each level or in the main room if there is no landing in the upper level. 
  • Lastly, every kitchen should have a heat alarm. 

All alarms should be ceiling mounted, interlinked, from the same manufacturer, and ideally a matching model. These measures enhance tenant safety and comply with regulations. At Clan Gordon, our team ensures the properties we manage adhere to these fire safety requirements, protecting both tenants and landlords. 

Gas Boiler Maintenance Cover 

Maintaining a gas boiler is vital for its smooth operation and longevity. Clan Gordon collaborates with Contract Heating, offering an annual service contract covering essential repairs involving boilers, issuing an annual Gas Safety Certificate, conducting Portable Appliance Testing for up to ten items, performing an annual smoke alarm check and arranging a Legionella Risk Assessment. 

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 

Before marketing your property for rent, you must obtain a valid Energy Performance Certificate. This certificate provides information about the property’s energy efficiency and suggests potential improvements. 

If you have recently purchased your property, the EPC may already be included in the home report. Alternatively, you can search for your property’s EPC on the Scottish EPC Register website. An EPC remains valid for ten years. 

New Repairing Standard Measures 

As of March 1, 2024, landlords must comply with new measures added to the Repairing Standard in 2019 and updated guidance in 2023. These additional measures include: 

  • water pipes must be free of lead (where this cannot be ascertained water testing must be carried out to check for the presence of lead piping) 
  • electrical installations must be protected by a residual current device (RCD) 
  • properties must have a fixed space heating system (a permanent installation in the property which is plumbed or hard-wired and capable of maintaining a temperature of 21⁰C in at least one room and 18⁰C elsewhere, when the outside temperature is minus 1⁰C.) 
  • installations for fuels other than gas and electricity to be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order 
  • any common parts pertaining to the property must be able to be accessed and used safely 
  • the property must have satisfactory provision for, and safe access to, a food storage area and food preparation space 
  • where the property is in a tenement, common doors must be secure and fitted with satisfactory emergency exit locks and a secure entry system 

The importance of finding the right tenant 

Finding the perfect tenant is every landlord’s dream come true. A reliable tenant can bring peace of mind, financial stability, and reduce the stress associated with property management. On the other hand, choosing the wrong tenant can lead to headaches, costly damages and potential legal issues down the road.  

From proper marketing to thorough screening processes, we’ll cover everything you need to know to attract, assess and secure the ideal tenant for your rental property. 

Creating high-quality listings for your property 

To reach the most potential tenants as possible, it’s crucial to advertise your property the right way. One of the most effective ways to do this is by listing your property on all the main property portals.  

Platforms such as Rightmove, Zoopla, CityLets, Prime Location, On The Market, and LettingWeb provide extensive visibility to a wide audience of prospective tenants. At Clan Gordon, we leverage each one of these platforms so that you can significantly increase your chances of finding the perfect match for your property. 

When creating listings, we make sure to include accurate and detailed descriptions that highlight the unique features and selling points of your property. It’s vital to put emphasis on the key aspects of your property such as location, amenities, nearby transportation options, and any other distinctive characteristics that make it stand out.  

At Clan Gordon, we work our magic to captivate potential tenants and get them to schedule a viewing. 

Using professional photography and virtual tours 

In today’s digital age, visuals play a critical role in capturing attention and generating interest. To showcase your property at its best, we invest in high-quality photography taken with professional equipment.  

A well-lit space with attractive angles and composition can make a significant difference in how potential tenants perceive your property. Clear, crisp, and inviting photographs will give them a glimpse into their future home and help them envision living there. 

That’s why Clan Gordon started offering virtual tours for each property. A 360-degree virtual tour allows potential tenants to explore the place from the comfort of their own homes, giving them a realistic feel for the layout and ambience.  

Virtual tours save time for both landlords and tenants by providing an immersive experience that narrows down their choices before scheduling in-person viewings. 

Screening potential tenants for suitability 

When it comes to selecting the right tenant, a personal approach is invaluable. Unlike many agents who work on a ‘first come, first served’ basis, putting speed over suitability, our approach focuses on providing individual viewing slots.  

This allows us to spend dedicated time with each applicant, getting to know them personally and gathering valuable insights to assist in making the best tenant selection. We don’t want to rush just any tenant in without making sure both the landlord, tenant and property are all a good fit. It’s how Clan Gordon has had so much success securing many reliable long-term tenants for our landlords. 

While it may seem tempting to fill vacancies quickly, going with the first tenant to walk through the door could lead to potential issues down the line. By conducting thorough screenings and looking beyond just reference checks, we ensure that only the most suitable tenants are chosen for your property.  

The aim is to find tenants who will meet their financial obligations, treat the property with care, respect neighbours, and contribute positively to their relationship with the landlord. Investing time and effort in this process increases the chances of a successful tenancy that benefits both parties involved. 

Gathering detailed information from applicants 

To make an informed decision when selecting a tenant, landlords should collect detailed information from applicants. This information can include: 

  • Details of all proposed tenants, including children
  • Occupations
  • Guarantor details (if applicable)
  • Any other relevant information provided by the tenant

Having access to this level of detail allows you to assess the suitability of potential tenants more accurately. It also provides insights into their lifestyle, financial stability, and ability to maintain the property effectively. The more you know, the better you’ll feel about them. A more informed decision comes with much-needed peace of mind.  

Thoroughly referencing prospective tenants 

Referencing is a crucial step in assessing the reliability and suitability of potential tenants. Working with a third-party referencing agency ensures a thorough evaluation of applicants based on various criteria, such as: 

  • Credit checks
  • Current landlord references
  • Employment verification
  • Affordability calculations

Thorough referencing helps identify any potential red flags or risks associated with prospective tenants. It gives landlords peace of mind knowing their property is being entrusted to individuals who have a proven track record of responsible tenancy. 

Starting a new tenancy on the right foot 

Before the start of the tenancy, it is customary to collect a deposit equivalent to a minimum of one month’s rent plus £200. This deposit serves as protection against damages or breaches of the tenancy agreement. 

As a responsible landlord, you are required to lodge all deposits with a government-approved Tenancy Deposit Scheme provider. In Scotland, SafeDeposits Scotland fulfils this role. It’s important to adhere to the regulations regarding deposit protection and provide prescribed information to tenants within 30 working days of collecting the deposit. 

Setting up rent payment structures 

Establishing a clear and efficient rent payment structure is crucial for smooth landlord-tenant relations. Collect the first rent payment before the tenancy begins, taking into account pro-rata adjustments if it starts partway through the month. Subsequent rent payments should be due on the 1st of each month to ensure clarity and facilitate timely follow-up on any late payments. 

It’s beneficial to set up automated payment systems or reminders to streamline the process and reduce the chances of missed or delayed payments. Open communication regarding rental expectations ensures that both parties understand their responsibilities, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings or conflicts arising in the future. That’s why at Clan Gordon we take the stress out of rent collection and streamline the entire process to ensure you can relax and always get your money when you expect. 

Signing lease documents 

All new tenancies are governed by Private Residential Tenancy (PRT) agreements in Scotland. Using an adapted version of the PRT model tenancy agreement provided by the Scottish Government adds transparency and legal certainty to the arrangement. PRTs have a start date but no initial fixed term, offering flexibility for both landlords and tenants. 

Allow tenants sufficient time to review the agreement before signing, encouraging them to ask questions and seek clarification if needed. To further aid comprehension, provide guidance notes supplied by the Scottish Government, explaining the key terms and rights within the tenancy. 

Preparing the property with final cleaning and inventory reports 

Prior to the start of a tenancy, ensure the property undergoes a thorough final clean to maintain its condition as recorded in the inventory report. By arranging a professional cleaning service beforehand, you establish a baseline of cleanliness for reference throughout the tenancy. This protects both parties and simplifies the resolution process in case of disputes at the end of the tenancy. 

An inventory, including detailed photographs, should be created and signed at the beginning of every tenancy. Engaging a third-party specialist to conduct the inventory provides an unbiased assessment of the property’s condition, protecting both landlord and tenant.  

The comprehensive report generated is a valuable tool when negotiating deposit deductions and ensures transparency during check-out. 

Personal check-ins and guiding tenants 

For each new tenancy, Clan Gordon prioritises personal check-ins whenever possible. Welcoming tenants in person allows us to establish a connection and provide them with essential guidance on property maintenance, safety checks, and compliance. If you, as the landlord, also wish to be there, you are welcome to have as much involvement as you like. We take this opportunity to brief tenants on our expectations for them and discuss: 

  • Efficient use and maintenance of heating and ventilation systems
  • Standards of cleanliness expected from tenants
  • Proper care for flooring, furnishings, and appliances
  • Understanding and acknowledgement of safety check compliance and certifications

Clear communication and providing tenants with the necessary information from the start fosters a positive tenant-landlord relationship based on mutual respect and accountability. 

Managing utilities and meter readings 

Taking initial meter readings at the beginning of a tenancy is crucial to ensure a smooth transition of utility accounts into the name of the tenant. Promptly changing gas, electricity and council tax accounts prevents any confusion or disputes regarding billing responsibility. 

At the end of a tenancy, we’ll arrange closing meter readings and temporarily transfer account ownership back to the landlord’s name (via Clan Gordon), then into the new tenant’s name once they move in.  

Any bills incurred (standing charges, etc.) during short vacant periods between tenancies should be received at our office, paid on behalf of the landlord, and charged to your account accordingly. We’ll request that outgoing tenants provide a forwarding address to enable seamless handling of correspondence after their departure. 

Inspections and handling maintenance issues 

Regular inspections are critical to ensuring the proper upkeep of your property. We schedule an initial inspection within the first three months of a tenancy, followed by six-monthly inspections thereafter. Additional inspections may be necessary if the tenant fails to maintain the property adequately or falls below acceptable cleanliness standards.  

After each inspection, we promptly provide landlords with photographic reports detailing the condition of the property. 

When maintenance issues arise, it is essential to address them quickly and efficiently. We’ve spent years establishing relationships with trusted Edinburgh contractors who can respond promptly to repair requests. We always quickly inform landlords of any significant issues that require attention beyond simple repairs and provide expert guidance on how best to proceed. 

Providing landlords with convenient access to monthly statements 

As your property management partner, Clan Gordon ensures rent payments are transferred directly to your account by the eighth working day of each month. In addition to timely financial transactions, we provide monthly statements via email, giving you an overview of income and expenses associated with your property. These detailed statements offer transparency and make financial record-keeping hassle-free. 

To further reduce the paperwork and simplify things, we provide access to an online dashboard exclusively designed for landlords. This comprehensive tool allows you to view all your monthly statements, tenancy documentation, safety certificates, and past inspection reports in one convenient location. Additionally, you have the option to download a spreadsheet containing all transaction data related to your property, enhancing ease of record-keeping and analysis. 

Achieving long-term success as a landlord 

Finding the right tenant is key to establishing a successful and profitable rental business. By working with a reliable letting agent like Clan Gordon to thoroughly vet all potential tenants, whilst also maintaining transparent and efficient processes throughout the tenancy, you position yourself for long-term success as a landlord. 

Remember, building strong relationships with your tenants starts from the first point of contact and extends throughout their tenancy. At Clan Gordon, we prioritise clear communication, fair expectations and proactive property management to ensure consistently positive experiences for both parties involved. 

So, follow these guidelines, embrace the journey of finding the perfect tenant, and enjoy the benefits that come with being a successful landlord. 

Ready to find the perfect tenant? We take the headache out of being a landlord, only leaving you with the rewards. Our team is ready at a moment’s notice to help you with whatever you need. Schedule a call with a Clan Gordon property manager today and experience hassle-free property management like never before.