Monday, 4 August 2014

Finding a Rental Property in Scotland

The laws and customs relating to rental accommodation vary widely across the world. For this reason it is important to study up before you plunge in. You can go to for specific laws on private rental properties in Scotland.

I get countless emails asking me what good sites the locals use to find properties for rent. Here are the most widely used sites {and ones I have personally used}:

You will need to be open minded when viewing properties here in Scotland. They probably won't be as big as you are used to. The average size home in America is 2,300 sqft, the average home in Great Britain is 818 sqft. Keep this in mind when you are packing your furniture.

It is fairly standard practice that a landlord will not rent to a person without having viewed the property. This just means that you can't rent a property in Scotland while you are still living in America {or any other country}.  A lease is not signed here until the day you move in. The landlord will want to see your face.

So, what do you do? You need a place to live. I'm going to give you my best advice.

+ If you are lucky enough to have connection in Scotland ask them if they would help you. They can view the properties and make the arrangements for you. Then you would be able to move straight into your new home the day you arrive. If you are indeed lucky enough to have this option make sure to thank them. It will be a lot of work on their part.

+ Find a Leasing Agent that will work with you. Ask them to prepare 10+ properties to show you in a 1-2 day period when you first arrive in Scotland. You will view them all in one go. Decide on a property and set your move in date for in a few days or weeks. This means you will need to book a hotel/hostel for those days/weeks when you first arrive.

+ If you aren't wanting to stay in a hotel/hostel you can look for short term holiday rental. You will be able to rent for as many weeks as you wish.

+ If you are being transferred with your company they will probably be taking care of all the arrangements for you. You lucky dog!

+ Depending on your circumstances you may have to pay your 6+ months rent upfront. These situations can happen when attending school abroad or when you do not have a job. The letting agency will just need a confirmation of your payment. Be prepared to shell out at least 6 months rent if need be.

+ Keep in mind different areas have different council tax bands. These will be stated in the property listing. It will be a letter {ex: Council Band A, B, D, etc}. That letter will be associated with a price. Council tax is a local taxation on every household. It covers water, sewage, trash pickup, etc. The cost depends on where you live. When deciding your budget for your rental home also remember you will need to pay council tax on top of that which can be anywhere from £99-£300 per month {or more}. You can see more {here}.

Although intimidating, it is worth it to take the time and effort to secure yourself the right property to make you happy in Scotland. I hope these tips helped in some way.


  1. This was perfect timing for us! We are moving to Edinburgh in three weeks and the plan is to set up several appointments for the day we arrive. We have a rental car + hotel reservation but would like to minimize the need for both of those as much as we can. Do you know if most landlords charge an application fee as they do in the US?

    1. Perfect timing indeed! You probably won't need the rental car for very long. OK, the Letting Agencies need to have you on the books and need to do their research so find a letting agent NOW and tell them what you need and set up a meeting for the day AFTER you arrive. Don't wait until you get here to do this. No one will feel like viewing that many rentals the day you arrive either. Trust me. The agencies do charge an application fee. You don't be applying for all the places you view. Just the one you want, which you will probably get. The cost ranges from £50-£100.

      Please let me know if you need any more help. I can point you in the right direction.

    2. I totally agree that it will probably be too much for one day--it's just a matter of convincing my husband of the same thing. Our flight lands at 7:30 AM so I think it'll really depend on how much we sleep on the flight (with our 6 month old). Stressful stuff. We have emailed the Bishop/leaders of the church we will be attending there and they have offered to walk through some housing units if we need it but as always I feel guilty utilizing someone else's time (especially someone I've never met). So we'll see. Will be contacting some letting agencies tomorrow, thanks for the help!

    3. OK, if your Bishop is offering to view properties then take him up on that action immediately. In Scotland (especially on the East Coast) there are not enough properties to meet demand. Properties will be renting fast this month because school is starting. If you want the best place then get the Bishop's help. He probably offered because he knows the places go quick. Tell me your needs and specifications and let him view the properties and accept a property on your behalf. That way you can sign the lease and pay your money right after you arrive. can order your groceries online a few days in advance and have them delivered to you that evening. BOOM! You are ready to go!

      If you need help knowing if a property is a good price or what something means in the listing just email me. Then I can help you pick some properties to have your bishop go view immediately.

    4. *tell him your needs and specifications...

  2. Hello! I am moving to Canada very soon, but will also send applications to Scottish unis (because well... Edinburgh! I love Scotland) I am well aware of the "it's not like when you're on holiday" myth, since I've moved abroad before too. It really isn't. But that's not the question for now, I just wanted to tell you that I love your blog! It's in the well-written part of the internet :)
    How different is Scotland from England?
    Thank you and have a good day!

    1. Thanks for reading Soph! Scotland and England really are very different. They have the same stores and mostly the same landscape but the cultures are very different! I'm going to see to answer this one for the blog in more detail. Great question!

  3. Great insight Mary! For those going for Edinburgh (and this might be the same for Aberdeen as well), jump on the search ASAP! It took my husband 6 weeks to find a place because places would go even before he saw the place. Also, be prepared to pay the first six months up front in addition to the security deposit.
    Mary, I sure wish I had known about your blog prior to moving to Scotland! Have fun with the Fringe this weekend!

    1. Thanks for weighing in Kelly! I'm glad you did since we live in different cities. The property market here really is out on control! Properties would go as we were looking at them. You don't really get time to even decide you just have to go for it! Great tip on the security deposit! I've added it to the post!

  4. In mentioning council tax, which is most comparable to what in the US would be property tax, you point out an important difference between the UK and the US. I'm referring to the fact that in the UK, the council tax on a rented residence is the responsibility of the renter, while in the US the property tax on a rented residence is normally the responsibility of the property owner.

    People who move from the US to the UK need to understand that if they rent a home in the UK, they will have to register for and pay the council tax in addition to paying their rent.

    1. Property Tax in the US is NOT comparable to Council Tax in the UK.

      Property Tax in the US is paid yearly on the market value of the property no matter how many people are living in it. This could also include your car, boat, ATV depending on the state you live in. In the US you need to pay separately for the services for water, sewage, trash pickup, etc. They are not government owned companies and you need to set those services up yourself.

      Council tax goes to part fund the local government services like water, sewage, rubbish pickup. The amount is paid by the renter and depends on what part of town you live in and how many people are living in your home. It is paid monthly.

    2. Well I guess that shows the differences even between property tax in areas of the US, because in parts of the US where I've lived, property taxes generally have funded trash pickup, and in a few cases water and sewer costs. But, you are correct that there are places in the US where these are paid separately.

      And it's true that there are some significant differences in UK's council tax system, such as the tax is lower if only one adult lives in the property or if all the occupants are full time students, renters are responsible for the tax versus the owners, the council tax is lower on unoccupied properties, etc.

      What I felt you mentioned that was most informative, especially for people from the US who might find themselves living in the UK is that council tax is another tax, that they were not used to, that they would have to start paying despite only being renters and not property owners. That was something that some people from the US might not know and which could cause them trouble, just like not knowing that they need a television licence.

    3. Yes, you are definitely right there Stephen. Americans are usually a bit shocked when they find these extra charges/taxes that aren't normal in their home country. I've seen several fined just because they didn't know about them. That is why I felt it was important to add it in this post. They need to be aware to add it into their monthly budget.

      Thanks for your input! It's always good to hear from people living in this country! It is a huge help!

    4. BUT also American's are used t paying their own water, sewage, trash pick up, etc on their own. The cost is not foreign to them. They would be paying out of pocket each month for these services anyway. In Scotland they just have a flat fee that encompasses all these services.

  5. Very nice post .
    what a fantastic place i love it . . . .
    you will post more great houses . . .

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