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.

Examples

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:

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

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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