Flooding of rented accommodation

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you live in rented accommodation, there are several steps you should take if you're flooded.

Step 1: Stay safe

Follow our advice on what to do when your home is flooded. Don't try to clean up or do repairs until your landlord has inspected the damage.

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

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

Our advice on 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 temporary accommodation if you can't stay in the property, for example because you'll be left without electricity or heating. You should explain any additional needs or disabilities you have that will make it difficult for you to stay in the property.

Ask your landlord or letting agent for a timetable of repairs. Our advice on 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 might want to bring the lease to an end.

Step 3: Getting repairs done

Both private and public-sector landlords have responsibilities to carry out repairs to their rented properties. For more information on your landlord's responsibilities and what to do if they refuse to do repairs, read about getting repairs done while renting.

Your landlord has the right to reasonable access to your home to carry out repairs.

If your landlord wants to carry out improvements, they must get:

  • your permission to enter the house and do the works, or

  • a court order authorising them to take possession of the house.

This also applies if the repairs are so extensive that they cannot be done unless you move out.

Your landlord must usually provide alternative accommodation for you. If you don't want to move, your landlord has the power, in some cases, to apply to the court to repossess the property. There's information about your rights when repairs are being carried out on the Shelter Scotland website.

You should not agree to leave so repairs can be done until you get independent advice on your rights, for example by speaking to 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

Your landlord normally 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.

Your landlord should take responsibility for organising and negotiating repairs with neighbours. You should give neighbours the contact details of 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.

Landlords can get more information about organising common repairs on the Shelter Scotland website.

You can get more help with all aspects of repairs on the 'Under One Roof' website.

Step 4: Make an insurance claim for damaged furnishings

As a tenant, you're responsible for insuring any contents that belong to you. Read our advice about making an insurance claim for flooding.

If you don't have home insurance to replace your belongings, read what to do if you've been flooded but don't have insurance.

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

If you rent an item like a sofa or TV, check if you have insurance for it. You might have paid for insurance when you took out the contract. You should phone the insurance company to make a claim. Read more about 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 your landlord wants to end the lease

There's a different process depending on who wants to end your tenancy.

If your landlord wants to end your tenancy

There are many rules about 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, your landlord has to serve a special notice on you before they can apply for an eviction order. The rules are different depending on the kind of tenancy. In some cases, more than one notice is needed.

If a private landlord wants to end a tenancy on the date the agreement expires, they must usually serve a notice correctly.

If you're a tenant and you get a notice seeking possession, you should consult an experienced adviser, for example at a Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you want to end your tenancy

You generally have to give the same amount of notice as your landlord to end your tenancy agreement.

You can only end an agreement early if your landlord gives permission, or if there's a term in the agreement that allows this. Otherwise, you might 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 might say how you can give notice. If they do not, you should give notice in a letter that you've signed and sent to your 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's information about ending a tenancy on the Shelter Scotland website.

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

If you leave without giving proper notice

If you leave without giving proper notice, your landlord might 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 council or a registered social landlord that thinks you've 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.

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

More help

You can get more housing advice from Shelter Scotland:

Shelter Scotland

4th Floor, Scotiabank House

6 South Charlotte Street



Advice helpline: 0808 800 4444 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

Main switchboard (does not give advice): 0344 515 2000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm)

Website: scotland.shelter.org.uk