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Flooding of rented accommodation

This advice applies to Scotland

Step 1: Stay safe 

Follow our practical steps for staying safe when you are flooded. Don't attempt to clean-up or do repairs until your landlord has inspected the damage. 

When giving housing advice, a client's rights will depend on their housing status. 

Step 2: Contact your landlord to discuss clean-up and repairs

You should contact your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible. They may have an emergency 24-hour phone number. You should request that they come to the property to inspect the levels of damage, and take pictures. You can ask for a written list of repairs that will be carried out urgently. 

Getting repairs done while renting explains the landlord's responsibilities for repairs. This depends on the type of tenancy you have. 

Your landlord should organise for temporary accommodation if it is not possible for you to stay in the property. This is particularly the case if you will be left without electricity or heating. You should explain any additional needs or disabilities you have that will make it difficult for you to remain in the property. 

Ask your landlord or letting agent for a timetable of repairs. Getting repairs done while renting explains your options if the landlord refuses to carry out repairs. 

Depending on the level of damage, you may or may not be able to stay in the property. You may want to bring the lease to an end - see step 5 for more information

Step 3: Getting repairs done

Both private landlords and public sector landlords have responsibilities to undertake repairs to their rented properties. For more information on the landlord's responsibilities and what to do if your landlord is refusing to do repairs, see Getting repairs done while renting.

The landlord has the right to reasonable access to the house to carry out repairs.

If the landlord wants to carry out improvements, s/he must get either your permission to enter the house and do the works, or a court order authorising her/him to take possession of the house. This also applies if the repairs are so extensive that they cannot be done unless you move out. The landlord must usually provide alternative accommodation for you, but if you do not want to move, the landlord has the power, in some circumstances, to apply to the court to repossess the property. There is information about your rights when repairs are being carried out on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.

If the landlord wants you to leave so that improvements or repairs can be done, you should not agree to this until you have obtained independent advice on your rights, for example by consulting an adviser at your local citizens advice bureau.

If you need further help to have your landlord repair the property, speak to an adviser at your local citizens advice bureau. 

Landlord organising repairs to common parts, like stairwells

Your landlord normally also shares responsibility with other owners for repairs to common parts of the building, for example, stairways, lifts, hallways or garden paths shared with other tenants, owners or the landlord. Tenants with no ownership in the property should not be asked to pay for common repairs. 

The landlord should take responsibility for organising and negotiating repairs with neighbours. You should provide neighbours with the contact details for your landlord or letting agent. If you don't know your landlord's address, you can search the Scottish Landlord Register on the Registers of Scotland website, available at www.landlordregistrationscotland.gov.uk.

Landlords can get more information about organising common repairs on the Shelter website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk

For more help with all aspects of repairs see the website 'Under One Roof' at http://newtenementhandbook.scot 

Step 4: Make an insurance claim for damaged furnishings

As a tenant you are responsible for insuring any contents that belong to you. See Making an insurance claim for flooding. If you don't have home insurance to replace your belongings, see If you have been flooded but have no home insurance

If you have a furnished tenancy, your lease may also state that you are responsible for insuring any contents belonging to your landlord. Your landlord may ask you to replace these items or pay for them. If you don't have insurance, you should negotiate with the landlord and explain your financial situation. 

If you rent an item like a sofa or television, check whether you have insurance for this. You may have paid for insurance when you took out the contract. You should phone the insurance company to make a claim. See Making an insurance claim for flooding. 

Your landlord is responsible for replacing or repairing any furnishings that came with the tenancy and are not stated in the lease as being your responsibility to insure. 

Step 5: If you or the landlord want to bring the lease to an end

Tenancy ended by landlord

There are many rules governing the notice needed for ending tenancy agreements and applying for eviction orders from the court. The rules cover the length of notice needed, the form in which it must be given and the dates on which it must take effect.

In some cases, a landlord has to serve a special notice on you before s/he can apply for an eviction order. The rules vary depending on what kind of tenancy it is; in some cases, more than one notice is needed.

If a private landlord wants to end a tenancy on the date the agreement expires, s/he must usually serve a Notice conforming to special rules.

If you are a tenant and you receive a Notice seeking possession, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau - where to get advice.

Tenancy ended by tenant

A tenant generally has to give the same amount of notice as a landlord to end the tenancy agreement.

If a tenant wants to end an agreement before it is due to expire, s/he can only do so with the permission of the landlord or if there is a term in the agreement that allows for this. Otherwise s/he may end up liable for the rent for the remainder of the time covered by the agreement.

The legal rules about the type of tenancy or the written tenancy agreement may say how the tenant can give notice. If they do not, the tenant should give notice in a letter that they have signed and sent to their landlord by recorded delivery. Giving notice by e-mail or text message is not advisable and, in many cases, is not a valid way of ending a tenancy. There is information about ending a tenancy on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.

If you want to end a tenancy agreement, or if you have given notice to the landlord and then changed your mind and want to stay on, you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau, as there are different rules on this for different kinds of tenancy.

What happens if you leave without giving proper notice

If a tenant leaves without giving proper notice, the landlord may be entitled to charge rent up to the date when notice should have expired, or up to the end of the tenancy agreement if you did not give any notice at all.

If you rent from a local authority or a registered social landlord which thinks that you have abandoned the property it might take steps to recover the property using abandonment proceedings. You can find out more about abandonment proceedings on the Shelter Scotland website at http://scotland.shelter.org.uk.

If there is a dispute about rent arrears in this situation you should consult an experienced adviser for example, at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

More help

Shelter Scotland
4th Floor, Scotiabank House
6 South Charlotte Street
Edinburgh
EH2 4AW

Tel: 0844 515 2000 (main switchboard)
Free housing advice helpline: 0808 800 4444
Website: http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/

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