#HousingSeries Part 2 – The How-to on HMOs
The #HousingSeries blogs are brought to you in partnership with the SRC’s in-house Advice Centre, focusing on the tips and tricks on getting the best out of your tenancy. If there’s any housing-related topic you’d like to see covered on this blog series, just email firstname.lastname@example.org! This week, we’re discussing HMOs.
What is a HMO?
HMO stands for House in Multiple Occupation, a property where three or more unrelated people live. Many students choose to live in HMOs while studying at university. If the landlord lives with you, s/he is not counted towards the total number of residents.
What does the licence do?
For a landlord to rent out a HMO, it is crucial that the property is licensed accordingly with the local council. Licensing conditions include the need for clear fire escape routes, adequately sized rooms, an installed telephone line, as well as safe gas and electrical appliances. Having a licence helps to ensure your property is rented within the law.
What happens if my property doesn’t have a license?
Unlicensed HMOs are illegal. Since multiple occupant properties are in such high demand, students can feel under pressure to sign a lease quickly, without taking proper precaution to check. HMOs without licences may not meet council safety requirements, and in some cases could land you in some trouble for colluding with the landlord to avoid their responsibility to license the property properly.
Some landlords have been known to
- a) leave tenants off the lease so that it appears there are fewer than three living in the flat;
- b) ask two tenants to state that they are in a relationship with each other so that they only count as one for HMO purposes;
- c) tell tenants to lie to Council officers and not to answer the door if Council officers visit.
It should go without saying – we recommend you don’t go along with any of these things!
But properties without an HMO licence are cheaper – where’s the harm?
As noted above, HMO Licensing aims to ensure minimum levels of safety within the property and this could mean the difference between life and death in cases of fire, for example.
Also, think about it this way – if your landlord is happy to break the law by dodging the HMO licence rules, how likely is s/he to respect your rights as a tenant, do repairs on time, and generally be trustworthy and responsible?
I don’t know if my property has a licence – what should I do?
Licences should be clearly displayed in the properties. You can call the Private Landlord Unit of Glasgow City Council (0300 313 0414), who will be able to let you know whether there has been an application for a licence and what the outcome was. You can phone anonymously.
If you think there’s a problem with your HMO or would just like to know more about keeping your tenancy safe and legal, get in touch with the SRC Advice Team here.