Standards of accommodation

There is no enforceable code or set of regulations that applies universally to houses in multiple occupation, although there are general standards.

This content applies to Scotland

General property standards

The rights of a person residing in an HMO are the same as a tenant residing in any other property:

  • the right to have the accommodation provided and maintained 'in all respects reasonably fit for human habitation' [1]

  • the right to have the structure and exterior of the building kept in repair [2]

  • the right to have installations in the house for the supply of gas, electricity and water kept in good repair [3]

  • the right to have appliances for space heating and heating water kept in good repair

  • the right that any fixtures, fittings and appliances supplied by the landlord are in a reasonable state of repair. [4]

Similarly, there is no national standard of fitness for HMOs although most local authorities that have recorded HMOs in their area have approved local standards. Advisers need to be aware of these where they exist. As part of the mandatory licensing scheme, the Scottish Government has produced guidance on benchmark standards for physical conditions and fire safety. [5] It is important to remember that this is guidance only and not a statutory definition.

It is also important to note that fire authorities also have powers that relate to HMOs. For more information about fire regulations, please see the section on hazards.

Licensing conditions

Specific licensing conditions of HMO's can be found in the Scottish Government Guidance. In summary, these are:

  • the water supply and drainage must be maintained in a proper state of repair, in a clean condition and in good order

  • the installations in the house for the supply of gas, electricity, lighting and space heating, and heating water must be maintained in good repair and proper working order

  • communal rooms and installations must be maintained in a clean condition and good order (this includes halls, staircases, sinks, kitchens, water closets etc)

  • all windows and other means of ventilation and the roof must be maintained in good order and repair

  • all fire escapes must be maintained in good order and repair and must be kept free from obstruction (fire notices required by the Fire Authority must be displayed in the house)

  • refuse and litter must not be allowed to accumulate in or around the house - refuse bins should be provided

  • a notice must be displayed stating the name and address of the manager of the house along with a copy of the regulations

Duties of occupants

The local authority may also impose duties on the occupants of an HMO. [6] These duties require the occupants to ensure that the person managing the house can effectively carry out the duties imposed on her/him. They would include allowing the manager to inspect all parts of the accommodation, providing information that is reasonably requested and complying with reasonable arrangements for storage and disposal of refuse and litter. Finally, occupants must take reasonable care to avoid causing damage to anything the manager is required to keep in repair.

Last updated: 29 December 2014


  • [1]

    s.13(1)(a) Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

  • [2]

    s.13(1)(b) Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

  • [3]

    s.13(1)(c) Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

  • [4]

    s.13(1)(d) Housing (Scotland) Act 2006

  • [5]

    Guidance on the Mandatory Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation, Scottish Government 2011

  • [6]

    s.181(3) Housing (Scotland) Act 2006