Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)
A House in Multiple Occupation is a property where three or more unrelated people live, using shared facilities. If you live with your landlord s/he does not count as one of those people. Many students live in HMO properties while they are at University. For a landlord or letting agent to operate an HMO, the property must be licensed with the local Council before it is rented out.
The licensing conditions are strict, and include, for example, the need to have clear fire escape routes, safe gas and electrical appliances, adequately sized rooms and a telephone line installed.
It’s not a good idea to live in an unlicensed HMO as it may expose you to health, safety and welfare hazards. Unlicensed HMOs are illegal and may not meet the Council’s safety standards. If the property is licensed the licence must be prominently displayed. If you cannot see it you should ask the landlord to show you a copy.
If you are in any doubt that a property is licensed, it is sensible not to agree to take it until you have checked. Students are often put under pressure by landlords to sign tenancy agreements as there is often great demand for larger properties. However, it’s in your own best interests to check everything before you sign as complications could arise later in the tenancy e.g. in extreme cases you could be held responsible for colluding with the landlord to avoid his/her responsibility to license the property.
If you call the HMO Unit of Glasgow City Council (0141 287 4535) they will be able to tell you whether there has been an application for a licence and whether a licence has been refused. You can do this anonymously if you want to, as information on properties with HMO licences is available to the public.
For further information on HMO licensing and landlord responsibilities have a look at Shelter Scotland.