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Renting in the private sector or with a social housing provider can sometimes bring with it challenges for people with a criminal record because of the decisions landlord’ make about who they will and won’t accept as tenants. 

Please see our page on your Housing Rights for information on where to access specific support if you feel your rights are being denied. 

The information below highlights some of the issues that might be faced when renting a property. 

Do I have to tell my landlord about my criminal record?

As with so many areas of life, understanding whether your conviction is spent or unspent is vital when considering renting a property. 

Landlords sometimes ask whether you have a criminal record. Although it is uncommon, they can ask you to provide a Basic Disclosure.

If your conviction is spent, then you do not need to declare it. 

If your conviction is unspent, then you need to declare it when asked.

You may find that your landlord is restricted by the type of insurance they have on the property, as some insurers refuse to insure tenants with unspent criminal records whilst others increase their premiums. 

Understanding your tenancy agreement

If you received your conviction whilst living in a rental property then whether or not you need to disclose the information is likely to be set out in your tenancy agreement. 

You may find a clause such as:

“The Tenant warrants (confirms) that they do not have any unspent convictions.”

If such a clause exists, you may need to disclose the information to your landlord.  You may want to seek advice prior to doing so to be certain you are not disclosing information unnecessarily. 

When might a criminal conviction be grounds for eviction?

There are 18 different grounds (reasons) for eviction. If your landlord wants you to leave the property, at least one of these 18 grounds must apply.

If you refuse to leave, your landlord can apply to the First-tier Tribunal for an eviction order under these grounds.

Grounds of particular relevance to people involved with the criminal justice system include:

Tenant has a relevant criminal conviction

This ground applies if you're convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment that involved you either:

  • Using the property for illegal reasons
  • Letting someone use the property for illegal reasons
  • Committing a crime within or near the property

Your landlord has to apply to the Tribunal within a year of you being convicted, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not applying before then.

Tenant has breached a term of the tenancy agreement

This ground applies if you haven't complied with one of the terms of tenancy.

This doesn't apply to cases where you haven't paid your rent (known as 'rent arrears') – there's a separate ground for this.

Tenant has engaged in relevant antisocial behaviour

This ground applies if you've behaved in an antisocial way to another person, by doing something which either:

  • Causes them alarm or distress
  • Is a nuisance or annoyance
  • Is considered harassment

The First-tier Tribunal will consider the behaviour, who it involved and where it occurred to decide whether to issue an eviction order.

To use this ground, your landlord has to apply to the Tribunal within a year of the behaviour taking place, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

Tenant has associated in the let property with someone who has a criminal conviction or is antisocial

This ground applies if you allow someone into the property and they behave in an antisocial way that would have them evicted if they were the tenant.

This person could be:

  • A sub-tenant
  • Your lodger
  • Someone you let into the property on more than one occasion

To use this ground, your landlord has to apply to the Tribunal within a year of the conviction or behaviour taking place, unless they have a reasonable excuse.

Source: Gov.Scot

People convicted of sexual offences

The National Accommodation Strategy for Sex Offenders in Scotland provides specific guidance related to the housing of people on the Sex Offenders Register.

The document outlines:

  • The way in which a person’s risk will be assessed and managed
  • How information will be shared
  • The roles and responsibilities of different professionals and different agencies
  • Approaches to community engagement

A table with examples of appropriate language use
A table showing the notification periods for the various sentence types. Prison sentence of 30 months or more (including life), Indefinite. Order for lifelong restriction, Indefinite. Admission to a hospital subject to a restriction order, Indefinite. Prison sentence of more than 6 months but less than 30 months, 10 years. Prison sentence of 6 months or less, 7 years. Admission to a hospital without a restriction order, 7 years. Community payback order with an offender supervision requirement, The length of the offender supervision requirement. Any other sentence (e.g. a fine or admonition), 5 years.
Last updated:
February 24, 2024
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