Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence

West Lothian Council operates a Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing scheme (referred to as an HMO Licence) which is administered by the Council's Licensing Team in partnership with other Council services, Police Scotland and Fire Scotland.

The impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) continues to have a significant impact on the processing of licence applications.

If you need to get in touch with the Licensing Team, please do so by email to the following address:

Email enquiries will be prioritised and responded to on a priority/urgent basis. We cannot accept phone calls at present.

In the meantime, applications for licences and permits (with the exception of hire car applications, please refer to the hire car webpages for details of how to make these) should be posted to the

Licensing Team,
West Lothian Council,
Civic Centre,
EH54 6FF

along with cheques or postal orders for payment of any fee required and copies of all required supporting documentation. 

If you are unable to post your application and fee please contact the Licensing Team by email.

Please be aware that there will likely be delays in the processing of applications due to changes in working conditions at present. 

If you are an event organiser you should note that when possible applicants will be able to email amended applications for events which have been postponed due to Covid-19 as long as the details of the event remain exactly the same and only the event date is changing, any other changes to event details will require a new application to be submitted in the usual manner.   

The Licensing Team is able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.

Which HMOs require a licence from the Council?

In terms of section 125 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, HMO means any living accommodation i.e.

  • house; or
  • premises or group of premises (or, in either case, part thereof) owned by the same person and its occupants share one or more of the basic amenities (a toilet; personal washing facilities; and facilities for the preparation or provision of cooked food) with each other 
  • occupied by 3 or more persons, who are not all members of the same family or of one or other of two families, as their only or main residence; or
  • which is of such type, or which is occupied in such manner, as the Scottish Ministers may by order specify.

In terms of section 125 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006:

  • living accommodation occupied during term time by a person undertaking a full-time course of further or higher education is, at all times during that person's residence, to be treated as being that person's only or main residence
  • a patient in a health service hospital (within the meaning of section 108(1) of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1978 is not to be treated as occupying the hospital
  • a person is not to be treated as sharing a basic amenity if the living accommodation concerned has more than one of any such amenity and the person has exclusive use of at least one of them

In terms of section 126 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, a number of specific categories of HMO are exempt from the requirement to be licensed.

In terms of section 154 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, the owner of an HMO which requires to be licensed commits an offence if the HMO is not so licensed (unless the owner has a reasonable excuse for not holding an HMO licence).

How do you apply for a licence?

How much are the application fees?

What is meant by 'Preliminary refusal: breach of planning control'

How can I make a representation about an HMO licence application?

Will my application be vetted?

How will my application be decided?

What if my details change or I no longer wish to hold my licence?

How do you make a complaint about HMO licence holders?

How do you make a complaint about unlicensed HMOs?