Vulnerable Scots are having to live in properties infested with rats and mould in "very worrying" numbers, Citizens Advice Scotland has said. 

The charity released a report today (December 14) which revealed some landlords are failing in their basic duties to repair serious problems like vermin, damp, and homes left without heating and hot water.

Among the issues reported included a mother in a housing development "overrun by rats" who was afraid to let her children play, and a father in an “uninhabitable” home with a leaking roof and asbestos.

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Citizens Advice Scotland spokesperson Aoife Deery said: “This research shines a light on the state of housing repairs and maintenance in Scotland, and much of it is not a pretty sight.  
“We already know that rented sector tenants are often financially vulnerable. To find that they are also having problems getting basic repairs done is a real concern, and even worse is that some of them fear losing their home if they request the repair.  

The Herald: Tenants are being forced to live with serious mould problems their landlords won't fixTenants are being forced to live with serious mould problems their landlords won't fix
“When you rent a property you sign a tenancy, which includes the rights and responsibilities of the tenants, but also the obligation on landlords to make sure the property meets the repairing standard. This is a legal requirement, not an option they can choose to neglect.”

The Citizens Advice Scotland report, called ‘In A Fix’, is mostly based on cases from the private and social rented sector, but also includes cases of owner occupiers. 

Among the distressed tenants – who wished to be anonymous due to fear of being evicted – was a woman in the east of Scotland who has been trying to resolve a severe damp, mould, and water ingress issue in her flat for nine months. 

The mother, who has autoimmune issues and whose mental health has been badly affected, said she was told by the council she would be considered ‘guilty of abandonment’ if she left and would lose her place on the housing list. She fears for the health and the health of her children. 

While a woman with multiple health issues in the east of Scotland moved back into her property following a flood and found mould growing on the walls, appliance issues, and a mice infestation. Citizen’s Advice said she was also wrongly told by her council that she could not access the Scottish Welfare Fund as she had already accessed it once. 

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And a father in the east of Scotland cannot have his children to stay with him due to the “uninhabitable” conditions of his property, which has mould caused by a leaking roof, as well as asbestos and vermin. 

Another tenant in the north of Scotland said the housing development site she lives on it 'overrun' with rats to the extent that she cannot let her children out to play.  

The report shows Citizens Advice had to issue advice on repairs on 5,600 occasions over a two-year period from 2021-2023. This accounted for 10 per cent of all housing advice given by Scottish CABs in that time. 
One third of the people who needed CAB advice on repairs also needed advice on other matters – most often on financial issues like benefits, debt, energy and broadband bills and charitable support like foodbanks.
In some cases the poor state of repair caused the tenants to experience physical and mental health problems, or made existing conditions worse.

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And some private tenants did not want to report their repair for fear of eviction, or had already been threatened with this for raising it. 
Ms Deery said: “It’s important to say that most landlords in Scotland do meet their commitments well. It’s in the nature of our service that we only see the cases where things have gone wrong.

“But the numbers of cases we’re seeing is very worrying. The good landlords are being let down by the bad ones, who are bringing the whole sector into disrepute. 
“Our research exposes a level of failure in the system that is unacceptable. It is simply not right that some of the people who have approached us for advice have had to live in frankly sub-standard accommodation. 
“Everyone should have the right to live in a safe home of a good standard. If your landlord is failing to carry out repairs, you can get free, confidential advice from your local CAB.”

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In its report, Citizens Advice Scotland made a number of recommendations. Among them, it suggested the Scottish Government should develop harsher penalties with councils for landlords who attempt to evict tenants for reporting a repair.

The report also advised expanding funding for councils to enable them to deal with repairs, and developing insurance options for private landlords. 

Reacting to the report, chief executive of the Scottish Association of Landlords John Blackwood said: “As the CAB report acknowledges the overwhelming majority of private landlords in Scotland live up to their obligations to provide safe, high quality property and to conduct repairs, maintenance and upgrades in a timely and professional manner.
“Scotland quite rightly has some of the highest standards for rented property in the UK and that is welcome.  The issues of poor maintenance are not restricted to the private rented sector and occur in council-owned housing, social houses and housing association properties.
“Across all sectors, plus the private rented sector, we must see better enforcement of the law by local authorities along with incentives to invest in new and existing rented accommodation to drive up standards and force rogue landlords out of the sector for good.”

To find out more and to read the full report visit