If you are struggling with housing, there are a number of services you can contact:
They have online information on a number of housing related issues, from finding properties, to issues with where you live.
Shelter Scotland specialise in housing advice, check out their online guides
You can contact Shelter Scotland via online chat Monday-Friday 9:00-16:00
You can call for free Monday-Friday 09:00-17:00 on 0808 800 4444
The Education Advocate (Iain Cupples) can provide advice on housing issues which come up in University Halls as well as private renting. You can also send your tenancy agreements to be checked before signing, and ask for properties to be viewed on your behalf. The service is confidential, non-directive and non-judgemental – you are free to make your own decisions!
Contact the HelpHub by email: [email protected]
University of St Andrews
Discretionary Accommodation Award
This is a non-repayable grant to help with accommodation costs, and is open only to students living in University Halls of Residence. You will not receive money directly, it will be offset against your accommodation costs.
You can find out more on the Financial Support webpage.
Asking your landlord to improve the energy efficiency of your home
Transition St Andrews have put together a letter you can use as a base for writing to your landlord, asking them to consider improving the energy efficiency of your home. Download and amend the letter as necessary.
As of November 28th 2022, the UK Government announced funding for the ECO+ scheme (now called the Great British Insulation Scheme) which aims to improve the energy efficiency of homes. The majority of the funding will be given to homes in Council Tax bands A-E, and that have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or below. You can find out your home's EPC rating by visiting the dedicated website. The scheme was due to open in summer 2023, and will include support with getting insulation. If you rent your home privately, landlords are able to take advantage of the scheme provided that the eligibility criteria are met.
The Scottish Government has legislated that rents cannot be increased until the 30th of September 2023, and we understand the Government intend to extend that to March 2024.
Most tenancies in Scotland are private residential tenancies (PRT). If you have a PRT, you have some protections from frequent rent increases, as your landlord cannot increase you rent more than once a year, and they must give you 3 months’ notice of this. If you feel any rent increase (which will be after March 2023) is unreasonable, you can report it to a rent officer who can decide if the increase is acceptable or not. The Scottish Government have put together information on renting in Scotland.
If you have a private residential tenancy, you can check it against the model agreement on the Scottish Government’s website.
Knowing your rights
It is so important that you know your rights as a tenant, and that you know where to go for support.
If you are a student who is facing any problems with your landlord, your flatmates, the condition of your home, or you just want someone to look over your tenancy agreement, please reach out to [email protected], who can offer confidential and non-judgemental advice.
If you are a staff member or member of the public, you can find out more about your rights and different types of housing, including for those who live with their landlords, from Shelter Scotland and Citizens Advice.
Looking after your home in winter weather
As we move into colder and damper months, it’s important that you look after your home. Looking after your space also has important health implications.
Heat can escape around and underneath doors, so getting a cheap draught excluder (or rolling up an old towel) to put at the bottom of internal doors can help to keep your home warmer. You can also get professional draught proofing if your home is particularly draughty.
One common problem is the build-up of condensation which can lead to damp and mould if the problem persists (although some condensation is normal if it clears up quickly). Here are some small things that can help with this:
- Put lids on pans when you cook
- Using the extractor fan when cooking, as well as during and after a shower
- Opening window vents during and after a shower if you don’t have an extractor fan in your bathroom
- Don’t block any vents
- Make sure air can circulate by leaving space between furniture and the wall
- Dry clothes outdoors if you can
- If drying clothes indoors, open the windows or window vents if you can
- You can get cheap dehumidifier bags/sheets which you can hang in wardrobes or above any clothes which are drying, or dehumidifier boxes to go on your windowsills to help with condensation and moisture.
Keeping your home warm (above 15 degrees Celsius) can also help with condensation, however many of us are trying to not put the heating on. If your home develops a damp problem, alert your landlord, and get it seen to as soon as you can. Damp and mould can lead to respiratory problems, and make existing respiratory conditions worse.
Putting your heating on low and preventing draughts can also help to ensure that pipes don’t freeze. It’s also important to ensure you get your boiler serviced once a year to make sure everything’s working efficiently.
Good insulation in the home is also important to both looking after the state of your home, and making sure you are in good health. If you are a tenant, insulation is the landlord’s responsibility. Please refer to the letter from Transition if you need to ask your landlord to install or improve insulation in your property.
You may find resources in the Energy Bills Section useful
The Repairing Standard means that landlords must make sure the property meets a minimum standard. Landlords must ensure that repairs and maintenance are done to meet (and continue to meet) this Repairing Standard.
Landlords need to inform tenants and give them at least 24hrs notice before entering the property and making repairs (unless there is an emergency).
The Repairing Standard covers things like:
- The home must be fit to live in
- The outside and structure of the property needs to be in a decent state
- Things inside the property (furnishings, fixtures and fittings, water, gas, electricity) need to be in a good state and be in working order
It is your right as a tenant to ask for repairs to be made to ensure that your home is safe and meeting the repairing standard. You can use the template letter to ask your landlord for repairs your home may need during the course of the tenancy.
Council Tax is paid to your local council, and goes towards services that maintain and support your locality. Water bills are included in your Council Tax bill in Scotland, so you don't make a separate payment for water.
If you are a full-time student, you may be eligible for a Council Tax exemption. If you live in Halls, you don’t need to do anything. If you live in private accommodation only with other students, you may need to submit a certificate of exemption to the local council, to prove you are a student. If you live in Fife, the University will do this automatically by submitting a list of student names and addresses to Fife Council. If you are having difficulties with this, reach out to your local council or the ASC.
There are other discounts on Council Tax depending on your circumstances, for example if you are a carer, are care experienced, are disabled, or if you are the only adult living in the property. Find out about other reductions from Fife Council, Dundee Council, and Angus Council.