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@example.com
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
West Lothian Council,
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).
Only the owner of the property can apply for an HMO licence.
If you want to apply for a licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee.
Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them and a list of fees are available from the downloads section of this page. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form.
There are two separate application forms. One is for persons applying for a licence as an individual and the other is to be completed by applicants who are companies, partnership or organisations.
Fees for HMO Licence applications are variable and are based on the number of persons resident in the property to be licensed, more information regarding.
In terms of section 129A of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, the Council may, within 21 days of an application for an HMO licence, refuse to consider the application if it considers that occupation of the living accommodation concerned as an HMO would constitute breach of planning control for the purposes of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 by virtue of section 123(a) or (b) of that Act. Notice of such a decision must be served on the applicant within 7 days of the date of the decision and the notice must specify that no fee may be charged in respect of a further application for an HMO licence in relation to the living accommodation concerned made within 28 days of the applicant subsequently obtaining:
- planning permission under Part 3; or
- a certificate of lawfulness of use or development under section 150 or 151 of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997.
Legislation does not allow for objections to be made for HMO licences, however any member of the public can make a representation about an HMO licence application.
A guidance note explaining how a representation about an HMO application can be made can be viewed here
In terms of paragraph 5 of Schedule 4 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, the Council may make such inquiries about an HMO application as the Council thinks fit. The Council must make a report of any matter arising from any such inquiries which the Council considers relevant to the determination of the application.
All applications are copied to the Council's advisors who can recommend that conditions in addition to the standard conditions detailed on this page are attached to the licence when granted. If you do not want to accept any recommended conditions then the application would be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision to be made regarding which conditions will apply to your licence. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and applicants' details will be retained on computer.
You will be contacted once vetting is complete.
HMO proprieties must meet a particular standard. You should refer to the Government guidance in this respect which can be found in the downloads section of this page. The council must be satisfied that the premises are suitable for use as an HMO and site visits will be undertaken by advisors before reports are prepared for the council. Applications which do not attract any representations can be granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers provided that all reports received are satisfactory. All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis.
We have twelve months in which to determine your application.
You should notify us as soon as you can if your details change or any of the information given in your application becomes out of date due to a change in your circumstances.
If you no longer wish to hold your licence you can surrender it to the council at any time by returning your licence together with a letter stating that you wish to surrender it. If you surrender your licence it will cease to have effect.
The Licensing Team can advise if a property has an HMO licence. Complaints regarding licensed HMOs may be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter providing full details of the nature of the complaint and sent to the Licensing Team using the contact details box.
Complaints should be made to the council's Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT)
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org; Telephone: 01506 280000