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Becoming a council tenant

Tenancy agreement

You'll attend an interview at a Housing Office to sign a tenancy agreement. For most tenants this will be a Scottish Secure Tenancy. In some circumstances a Short Scottish Secure Tenancy is used. 

The tenancy contains statutory and contractual rights and responsibilities and is a legally binding agreement for the tenant and the council as the landlord.

The interview takes about 45 minutes. We'll tell you about:

  • tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities
  • the start date for the tenancy
  • how to pay rent
  • how to report a repair
  • any planned improvements for your home

You will receive 2 sets of keys and a tenant information pack containing:

  • your Tenancy Agreement
  • the Tenant Handbook 

We'll help you with any applications or forms you need to complete at the sign up interview. 

When do I become responsible for my new council home?

You become responsible for your council home from the tenancy start date on your tenancy agreement. Both the council's and your rights and responsibilities in relation to the property start then. You are responsible for looking after the property and for paying your rent from that date.

Our Video Handbook for new tenants contains information about what to do if your circumstances change, mutual exchange and more.

What do I need to do if I am claiming Housing and Council Tax Benefit?

We will complete the forms with you at the sign up interview. You need to:

  • bring proof of identity for each partner (eg birth or marriage certificate, passport, driving licence)
  • bring proof of all your income, any joint tenant's income and the income of any other non-dependents in the household, including any savings or capital
  • bring proof of each partner's National Insurance number
  • move into your new home the day your tenancy starts. If you don't do this you will have to pay the full rent and Council Tax between the start of your tenancy and the date you move in. If there are special reasons why you can't move in, for example because you are disabled and are waiting on an adaptation being installed, you will need to make a claim for 'housing benefit in 2 homes'. People only qualify for this in very limited circumstances.


We provide 2 sets of keys including keys or fobs for communal entrances, any outbuildings or bin stores. The council changes all front and back door locks when preparing an empty property for let and does not keep keys. As the new tenant you will be the only person with keys to your house. (This only applies to 'new lets' and not to 'mutual exchanges'. If you have moved following a mutual exchange we recommend you change your locks). We can provide extra keys or fobs for communal entrances if you need them. There is a charge for this service.

Home contents insurance

The council is not responsible for any personal belongings within your home. We strongly advise you to take out home contents insurance. You can pay for the council's insurance policy with your rent.

Can I put up my own fixtures and fittings?

Yes, as long as you don't damage or remove anything or alter the property. If you want to do any alterations, you must first ask permission.

Can I do any home improvements?

You must have prior permission from us before you can carry out alterations or improvements to your home. This covers any changes you want to make to:

  • the inside of your home
  • decorating the outside
  • putting up any structures outside

You will need to provide full details of the work and who will carry it out. You may also need official planning permission and to comply with building regulations. Once you have submitted your request, we will write back to you with an answer within 1 month. If you do not receive a reply after 1 month, you can go ahead as if we had agreed. We have the right to insist that the work is done in a certain way, and to inspect it at certain stages.

If you remove fixtures or fittings, or carry out alterations, without permission, we may ask you to restore them to the original condition. We will tell you this when we inspect your home before you leave. If we have to do this after you have left we will charge you for the costs involved. 

Can I get help with the cost of redecoration?

Some properties may be in a decorative condition that would not allow the new tenant to move in without redecoration. This will be decided by a Housing Officer at the property void inspection and does not include reason of personal taste of new tenant. You will be told, when you are offered your new home, if you will be provided with a 'Paint Pack' for redecoration.

Gas and electricity checks

Before we let a property to a new tenant, we inspect it and carry out electrical safety checks. After you sign your tenancy agreement, you should set up your gas supply and then arrange with our gas contractor, Saltire, to carry out a pre-let safety check. Here, an engineer will uncap your gas supply and carry out a safety check on the gas appliances in your home. The engineer will hand you a copy of the inspection certificate. This can be arranged by contacting us.

By law the gas supply and appliances must be checked every year and you need to allow the gas engineer into your home to carry this out. Failure to do so can result in the council forcing entry to your property to carry out the gas safety check and charging you for this. 

Will any repairs need to be carried out in my home once I have moved in?

Most required repairs will be done before you move in, however, occasionally, some are carried out after. If further repairs are needed, you will be told at your sign up interview. Phone 01294 310000 to arrange a time for the work to be done.

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