Updated 4 months ago

Scotland is a majestic country with a beautiful countryside and cities full of medieval gems. Thankfully, Scotland also has an excellent public transport system: 95% of the population lives within a 5-minute walk from a bus or train station, so no matter where you choose to live, chances are your commuting will not be challenging. Furthermore, prices for properties to buy are lower than anywhere else in the UK. Combine that to the many rental options you have (from modern houses to Victorian homes to waterfront apartments) and it’s not hard to see why Scotland attracts so many expats each year.

How to find accommodation in Scotland

The first thing to do would be to decide on renting vs buying. The rental market in Scotland is quite cost-effective, and your tenancy rights are thorough enough to ensure your security, the fair treatment of your deposit and the property being looked after. Costs obviously vary depending on the type of apartment and the city you live in, but you can check and compare rental prices by visiting the website of the local authorities, as most include rental listings. Buying is not a bad idea either, as house prices in Scotland are on average lower than anywhere else in the UK.

Once you have decided what type of accommodation best suits your needs, it’s time to start looking. In case you have family or close friends or relatives in Scotland, you could probably start by seeking their help to find accommodation. Indeed, this can be quite helpful as they will be aware of relating formalities and the local market's features. If you decide on renting, you can go through a housing association or letting agency, or rent straight from a private landlord. Flatsharing is also an option in all major Scottish cities. If you decide on buying, you will need to go through an estate agent or solicitor.

 Good to know:

Regardless of whether you rent or buy, you will have to pay council tax. Council tax is a fixed rate based on the value of your property, which goes towards paying local services for things like collecting the trash, recycling and maintaining the roads. Be aware that students are entitled an exemption or a discount on council tax.

What you need to know about the lease

If you decide to rent, an important thing you should consider is the lease. Depending on your situation, the property owner may request for an advance payment equal to 6 months of rent, especially if you are unemployed. Having said that, the norm is to pay a deposit equal to a month's rent. If you have found accommodation through a real estate agency, you will have to produce proof of payment.

The lease contract has to be written and must contain all conditions agreed between both parties (either the owner and the tenant, or the real estate agency and the tenant), before being signed. It must thus include the following:

  • the owner's or real estate agency's name and address
  • the owner's registration number (which authorises him to offer his property for rent)
  • the duration of the lease (start and ending date)
  • the rent price, mode and date of payment, as well as any scheduled date of increase
  • the deposit amount and the way in which it is preserved
  • persons appointed for interior decoration, repairs, as well as internal and external maintenance
  • the number of tenants
  • -conditions and restrictions (smoking, pets, guests, etc.)

The lease contract will be signed on the day you move in, unless you have made a prior trip. Before signing the lease, you are advised to have checked the following:

  • what’s included in the rental price (for example, is there a washing machine or do you have to use a communal one)
  • if there are any mould or damp issues
  • if the smoke alarms actually work
  • if any of the taps are overly loose or drip
  • if the locks are properly fitted
  • if the utility bills (electricity, gas, water) are included in the rent

Find out more information on your lease-related responsibilities and rights, here.

 Useful links:

Scottish Borders Council – Council Tax Charges
Right Move

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