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Licence - Houses in Multiple Occupation

Licence - Houses in Multiple Occupation

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What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

A HMO is a property which is let out to 3 or more unrelated persons where facilities are shared and where the property is the main residence of the occupants.

The need for a licence does not depend on rent being paid, or on any formal tenancy arrangements being in place.

For further information on HMO standards see our standard HMO licence.

Landlord registration

The HMO licensing system is separate to the Landlord Registration Scheme and you are required in law to register and pay a separate fee.

As with all let properties, the Landlord is responsible for their tenants and must ensure that their behaviour does not cause alarm, distress, nuisance or annoyance to neighbouring residents.

Licence summary

Mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) was introduced in October 2000. A licence is required for every HMO unless the type of accommodation falls within one of the 4 main classes which are exempt from the HMO licensing scheme.

There are 4 main classes of property that are exempt from the HMO licensing scheme.

  • Properties where all the occupants (or at least one member of each family) are owners.
  • Properties owned by communal groups, established as a co-operative housing association, the management of which is undertaken by general meeting.
  • Properties occupied by members of a religious order.
  • Accommodation provided as part of a service registered with the Care Commission as
    • a care home service,
    • an independent health care service,
    • a school care accommodation service, or
    • a secure accommodation service.

Flats or bedsits which are otherwise separate are considered part of one house if they share cooking, washing or toilet facilities. Resident landlords and members of their family living with them are not counted in calculating the number of occupants, so they only need a licence if they have three or more tenants living with them.

Applications must be made to the local housing authority.


The fee covers a 3 year licence and will depend on the number of residents.

  • HMO with less than 10 occupants: £543.00
  • HMO with 10 or more occupants: £671.00

Fees correct as of 1 April 2019 but subject to change.

Regulation summary

Refer to Scottish Government's web page HMO: A Guide for Landlords.

There has since been a number of changes to the HMO physical standards, the most up to date version can be found at Annex A of the attached statutory guidance.

Planning permission

In certain cases, where there are 6+ tenants, an application for a Change of Use must be applied for under Town and country Planning (Use Classes) (Scotland) Order 1997 where the change of use constitutes a development. This should be clarified prior to applying for the HMO licence to avoid the situation where an HMO licence is granted but planning permission is refused.

For assistance email:

Application evaluation process

The owner of the house is responsible for obtaining an HMO licence from the local authority. Before awarding a licence, the authority will make sure that acceptable standards are met in three categories.

  • Fit and proper person
    • the landlord, and any agent managing the property, must be considered a fit and proper person to hold a licence. The local authority will decide this based on individual circumstances. Clackmannanshire recently launched a voluntary landlord accreditation scheme.
  • Tenancy management
    • ensuring there are proper tenancy agreements which set out the rights and responsibilities of the tenants and the landlord. This should prevent exploitation or harassment of tenants, and should also help in taking action if tenants' behaviour causes any nuisance to neighbours.
  • Physical conditions
    • including space, facilities for cooking and washing, and safety of the building. See Annex A of the attached statutory guidance.

The local authority sets the standards required and also sets the fees charged for a licence application.

Guidance for Landlords sets out more details of the scheme, the licence application process and the kind of standards required as per regulation summary, see above.

There is also advice for tenants and neighbours of HMOs via the Scottish Government's web page HMO: A Guide for Tenants .

Licences will be granted if:

  • the house is or can be made suitable for multiple occupation
  • the applicant is a fit and proper person and the most appropriate person to hold the licence
  • the proposed manager has control of the house, and is a fit and proper person to be the manager
  • the management arrangements are satisfactory

What information should the applicant submit

  • Licence application
  • Appropriate fee
  • Copy of occupancy agreement
  • Gas safety certificates
  • Evidence of all electrical Portable Appliance Testing

Duration of application process

A licence application must be determined within 12 months. If the council has not determined the application the applicant will be able to act as though their application is granted if you have not heard from the local authority by the end of the 12 month target completion period.

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Failed application redress

Please contact us using the details below in the first instance.

You may appeal to sheriff against the decision of the licensing authority. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made. The sheriff may reverse or modify the authority's decision, or he may return the case to the authority to reconsider, with his reasons.

Licence holder redress

Where a licence has been suspended or revoked, please contact us using the details below in the first instance.

You may appeal to sheriff against the decision of the licensing authority. Any appeal must be made within 28 days of the decision being made.

Consumer complaint

If a licence is granted and you wish to appeal against it being granted you may do so to the sheriff within 28 days of the decision being made.

Useful links

Voluntary landlord accreditation scheme

Please note that fees lodged with any Licence application are non-refundable.

For Further Information Contact

Environmental Health
Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa, FK10 1EB
Tel: 01259 450000