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Houses in multiple occupation

Information for landlords, agents and tenants

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

An HMO is any living accommodation which is the only or main residence of three or more persons from three or more families. It has shared toilet, personal washing facilities or kitchen facilities. The description can include hostels, student residences, bedsits, shared flats and staff accommodation in hotels or hospitals.

Licensing requirements

All HMOs require to be licensed by the council. The main aim is to make sure this type of accommodation is safe, well managed and of good quality, thereby protecting HMO tenants and their neighbours.

Licensing of HMOs now falls under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006. While aspects remain similar to the previous licensing regime, there are differences such as increased enforcement powers for local authorities and increased penalties for criminal offences. In addition, statutory guidance for local authorities now exists relating to such matters as physical standards, gas and electrical safety and overcrowding. This should ensure greater consistency throughout Scotland in the regulation of these premises.

Our Public Health and Housing Team is a single point of contact for regulation of HMOs. Applications for licensing must be made by the owner(s) of the premises.

In processing these applications there is an extensive consultation exercise involving Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the following functional sections of the council:

  • Building Standards
  • Housing
  • Social Care
  • Development Management

Applications are assessed against our Standards for Shared Accommodation which also incorporates Minimum Requirements for a Tenancy/ Occupancy Agreement.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has independent authority for enforcing fire safety legislation within HMOs. However, as stated above, the Chief Officer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is a statutory consultee for HMO licence applications. We take into account the level of fire safety within the HMO and the extent of compliance with the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 when considering any licence application.

HMO Register

We maintain a register of HMO licences and applications relating to living accommodation within North Lanarkshire.

To landlords

Do you own and/or operate premises which require a licence?

Landlords who operate an HMO without a licence are committing an offence and render themselves liable to prosecution and a fine of up to £50,000. In addition, the local authority may impose a suspension of rent order so that no rent is payable by occupiers in relation to the HMO. Where the owner of an HMO authorises an agent to act on his behalf, the agent's details must be included in the licence application.

Council officers have powers to enter and search premises they suspect are being operated as an HMO. Please consider:

  • Are your premises up to standard?
  • Have you addressed gas and electrical safety issues?
  • Are your premises clean and well maintained?
  • Do you fulfil your common property responsibilities?
  • Do your premises have a legitimised planning status?

To agents

Do you act as an agent for an HMO?

Agents should check that their clients (or prospective clients) are licensed where necessary. Anyone who does anything as agent for the owner which directly permits or facilitates the occupation of an HMO when it is not so licensed is committing an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is the same as for an unlicensed owner, £50,000.

To tenants

Do you live in a house in multiple occupation?

If you have any issues in regards the your HMO contact the Landlord Registration team. Please consider:

  • Illegal, unlicensed accommodation may not meet the council's safety standards and residents may be at risk. 
  • Have you any concerns regarding Fire Safety, Gas/electricity safety and standard of repair?
  • Have you any concerns regarding tenancy issues such as overcrowding
  • Have you checked the licensing status of your accommodation with your landlord?

Page last updated:
06 Nov 2020

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