Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)
You must have a licence if 3 or more unrelated people or families live in a property you own, as their main home. You can be fined up to £50,000 for letting an unlicensed HMO.
As the owner, you are responsible for obtaining the licence even if your property is leased or managed by someone else or there are no rent agreements or payments.
Resident landlords are not counted when calculating the number of occupants.
From 1 March 2024 all private rented properties and short term lets in Scotland will be required to have fixed central heating, a kitchen with adequate space and facilities to prepare and store food. This brings together both existing and new duties included in the Repairing Standard. New duties cover kitchens, fixed heating systems, common parts, and fuel supplies.
The existing duty to ensure that the structure and exterior of the house is in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order has been amended to specify that where a private rented house or short term let is a flat in a tenement, the tenant must be able to safely access and use any common parts of the tenement, such as common closes. And Section 16 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 dealing with exceptions to landlords' repairing duties, is amended to make it clear that a private rented house which is a flat in a tenement does not fail the repairing standard if work otherwise needed to comply with the standard cannot be carried out because a majority of owners in the tenement have refused consent to carry out the work.
The existing duty to ensure fire safety in private rented houses and short term lets has been amended to specify that common doors must be secure and fitted with satisfactory locks. The existing duty to ensure that installations for the supply of electricity in a private rented house are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order will also specify that these must include a residual current device (a device to reduce the risk of electrocution and fire by breaking the circuit in the event of a fault). The existing duty to ensure that installations for the supply of gas and electricity in a private rented house and short term lets are in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order will be extended to any other types of fuel.
The new Repairing Standard also requires water pipes in private rented and short term let properties to be free of lead and where this cannot be ascertained water testing must be carried out to check for the presence of lead piping. Fixed space heating systems must be capable of maintaining a temperature of 21⁰C in at least one room and 18⁰C elsewhere, when the outside temperature is minus 1⁰C. And where the property is in a tenement, common doors must be secure and fitted with satisfactory emergency exit locks and a secure entry system.
For further information:
Types of property
- Flats and bedsits that share cooking, bathroom or toilet facilities
- Halls of residence
- Staff accommodation
To be a granted a licence you and your agent must:
- Be a fit and proper person to operate a HMO.
- Have the property in good order and suitable for the purpose (or can be made so as a condition of the licence)
- Have the necessary planning permissions for HMO use
- Ensure there are proper tenancy agreements
The following may be exempt from a licence:
- Communally owned properties
- Properties occupied by a religious order
- Care commission registered accommodation
How to apply
You will also need to provide the following documentation (where applicable):
- Floor plans of the premises (for new applications, or where there have been alterations made to the property)
- Current or proposed tenancy agreement for the property
- Property insurance policy including public liability cover.
- Electrical Portable Appliance Testing for the property (PAT)
- A copy of the current Landlords Gas Safety Certificate for all gas appliances
- A satisfactory Electrical Installation Condition Report for the property (EICR)
- Fire Safety Risk Assessment
- Fire Detection/Warning System (Maintenance and Testing Record)
- Emergency Lighting (Maintenance and Testing Record)
- Firefighting Equipment (Maintenance and Testing Record)
Existing HMO Licence Holders
Download and print an HMO Licence Application below:
HMO Public Register
Licence fees depend on the number of occupants. They are non-refundable.
Number of occupants
3 to 5
6 to 10
11 or more