February 5

What are the exemptions for HMO licence in Scotland?


The rising popularity of serviced apartments attracts guests seeking hotel-like comforts while maintaining their privacy. To stand out among the competition and increase profitability, it’s crucial to enhance your marketing strategies for your multiple properties in town.

The Growth of Private Rented Sector (PRS) in Scotland:

The private rented sector (PRS) in Scotland has witnessed remarkable growth over the past decade, now representing 15% of all households, with over 770,000 residents calling it home.


Government Initiatives for Improved Standards:

The Scottish Government has been committed to enhancing the management and condition of privately rented properties. In 2013, it introduced the private rented housing strategy ‘A Place to Stay, A Place to Call Home,’ focusing on improving management standards, service quality, and fostering growth and investment in the sector.


Key Legislative Requirements:


  1. Private Landlord Registration:
  • Private landlords are mandated to register themselves and their properties with the relevant local authority.
  • Local authorities must verify landlords as fit and proper persons before registration.


  1. Repairing Standard:

Landlords must ensure that the rented property meets a specified ‘repairing standard,’ including wind and watertight conditions and fire safety measures.


  1. Tenancy Deposits:
  • Landlords receiving tenancy deposits must deposit them into an approved tenancy deposit scheme.
  • Providing tenants with essential information about the tenancy and deposit is mandatory.


  1. Private Residential Tenancy (PRT):
  • The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced the new Private Residential Tenancy (PRT), replacing Short Assured and Assured Tenancies.
  • Emphasizes the principle that the rented property becomes the tenant’s home, ensuring security and stability.


  1. Regulation of Letting Agents:
  • Regulations for letting agents came into effect on January 31, 2018.
  • Mandatory registration, a statutory Code of Practice, and enforcement powers aim to instill confidence in landlords and tenants, elevate industry standards, and provide mechanisms to challenge poor practices.


These legislative measures collectively contribute to creating a secure, stable, and predictable renting environment for tenants, balanced with safeguards for landlords, lenders, and investors.


Houses in Multiple Occupation in Scotland

Implemented in Scotland since October 2000, the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) plays a vital role in the regulatory framework of the private rented sector. It focuses on enhancing both physical accommodation standards and tenancy management. HMOs serve as essential housing for specific groups such as students, transient workers, and those requiring additional support.


Key Points on Mandatory HMO Licensing:

  • Mandatory licensing is applicable to houses occupied by three or more individuals from three or more families as their primary residence.
  • All HMOs must adhere to physical standards established by the licensing local authority under Part 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006.
  • Licensing is obligatory for houses or flats occupied by three or more unrelated individuals sharing bathroom or kitchen facilities.
  • HMO owners must obtain a license from the local authority, ensuring safe, well-managed, and high-quality accommodation. Fire safety legislation also applies.


Licensing Criteria:

Before granting a license, the local authority assesses:

  • The owner and any manager’s fitness and propriety to hold a license.
  • Adherence to required physical standards.
  • Suitability for use as an HMO, with the potential inclusion of conditions on the license.


Enforcement and Penalties:

  • Operating an HMO without a license is a criminal offense, carrying a maximum fine of £50,000.
  • Local authorities have enforcement options, including varying or revoking a license.
  • – Revocation may occur if the owner, agent, or living accommodation is no longer deemed suitable.

In line with Scottish Ministers’ guidance, local authorities establish the required standards and associated licensing fees, ensuring effective oversight of Houses in Multiple Occupation.


What is an HMO?

An HMO, or House in Multiple Occupation, is a property rented by a minimum of 3 individuals not from a single ‘household,’ sharing facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. In Scotland, these properties are prevalent, particularly in student and urban areas, necessitating a specific management approach.


Benefits of Having an HMO

Securing an HMO license may seem complex, yet it brings substantial benefits, guaranteeing elevated accommodation standards and the potential for increased rental yields. Effectively managed HMOs are sought after, providing landlords with a consistent income stream. Leveraging our extensive experience in this sector, we assist landlords in optimizing these advantages.


Do I need an HMO license for 3 tenants in Scotland?

In Scotland, effectively handling a rental property with multiple tenants entails dealing with the intricacies of House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing. Cairn Letting & Estate Agency specializes in this crucial aspect, establishing themselves as experts in the HMO market. Recognizing whether your property necessitates an HMO license, especially in situations involving three tenants, is crucial for legal and profitable property management.


MORE Property blogs HERE: 

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Is Buy-to-Let Still Profitable Today?

A Comprehensive Guide to Buy-to-Let Mortgages

First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Buy-to-Let Mortgages


Houses in Multiple Occupation in Scotland, Licensing Criteria:, What are the exemptions for HMO licence in Scotland?, What is an HMO?

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