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 and which 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 principal aim is to ensure 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 notable 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 and requires to be complied with. This should ensure greater consistency throughout Scotland in the regulation of these premises.

North Lanarkshire Council's 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 and Social Work Services and Development Management. Applications are assessed against North Lanarkshire Council's 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.

  • 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. Any person 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?
    Illegal, unlicensed accommodation may not meet the Council's safety standards and residents may be at risk. 
  •  Have you any concerns regarding the following?
  • Fire Safety
  • Gas/electricity safety
  • Facilities
  • Standard of repair
  • Overcrowding
  • Tenancy issues
  • Have you checked the licensing status of your accommodation with your landlord?

Please use the 'contact us' box if you have any questions. For more information, see 'downloads' and 'other useful websites'.

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