Your rights in a house of multiple occupation (HMO)
A house of multiple occupation (HMO) is a home shared by 3 or more people who are members of 3 or more families. It must be the main or only place those people live.
If you live in an HMO, your home must meet certain standards. Your landlord must have an HMO licence.
HMO rights are not the same as your tenancy rights. Your tenancy agreement tells you most of your rights and responsibilities. Check what type of tenancy you have if you're not sure.
Who counts as a family member in an HMO
In an HMO, a family can be 2 or more people who are:
a couple, including people who are married, in a civil partnership or living together as a couple
parent and child, including stepchildren and foster children
grandparent and grandchild
brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews or nieces
Cousins are not counted as family for an HMO.
If you live with your landlord, they do not count in the number of families.
If you and two friends share a flat, you live in an HMO.
If you share a flat with your partner and a friend, you do not live in an HMO.
Check if your home has an HMO licence
Your landlord must get a licence from the council if they rent out an HMO.
There are some exemptions. Your landlord does not need an HMO licence if you live in:
a care home or nursing home
a property occupied by religious communities, such as a monastery
a property owned by a housing co-operative
a property subject to an antisocial behaviour control order
To check if your home has an HMO licence, contact your local council. You can find your council's contact details on mygov.scot.
If your landlord is renting out an unlicensed HMO
This is a criminal offence. Your landlord could be fined up to £50,000, depending on how serious the offence is.
You should report your landlord to the council if you're living in an unlicensed HMO.
Your landlord’s responsibilities
Your landlord must make sure your home meets certain standards.
They must pass the council's fit and proper person test to get an HMO licence.
Being a fit and proper person
The council could decide your landlord is not a fit and proper person if they have:
committed a crime
discriminated against a tenant
harassed or illegally evicted a tenant
allowed antisocial behaviour in a property they rented out
failed to do repairs when ordered to by the council, court or tribunal
Standards your home must meet
To be an HMO:
the rooms must be a decent size
there must be kitchen and bathroom facilities, with adequate hot and cold water
it must meet certain fire safety standards
the property must be secure, with locks on doors and windows
Your landlord must put up notices that say:
who to contact about the management of the property
what to do in an emergency, such as a fire or gas leak
Your landlord must keep your home in a good state of repair. Check your repair rights if you rent from a private landlord.
If your home does not meet these standards
Discuss it with your landlord. They should put it right.
If they do not, contact the council and report your landlord. They can:
inspect your home and tell your landlord what they must do
carry out required work themselves and get the costs back from the landlord
prosecute the landlord for breaking the conditions of their licence
If you're unhappy with the council’s response, follow our advice to make a complaint about the council.
If your landlord loses their HMO licence
This only happens in very serious cases. The council will usually give the landlord an opportunity to put things right.
Once they lose their licence, your landlord can no longer rent out the property. You'll have to move out. Your landlord must follow the correct process to evict you, and they cannot just kick you out.
If you're worried about eviction:
Last updated: 26 October 2023