House in Multiple Occupation Licence

To have multiple occupants in a house in Scotland, you need a licence from the local authority. If you rent a house to multiple occupants in Scotland you will need a licence from your local authority if the property has three or more unrelated occupants and it is their main residence. This applies whether or not the landlord lives at the property.

One of the key aims of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing is to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, of good quality, and has sufficient facilities for the number of occupants.  In addition, any persons associated with the operation of the HMO require to be considered a fit and proper person.  If you plan to rent a house to multiple occupants you require to obtain a licence from the Argyll & Bute Council if the property has three of more occupants who are not directly related and it is their main residence.  This applies whether or not the landlord resides at the property.  There are also circumstances where a licence would be required where a property is let to provide occupants with a place of principle accommodation while they undertake work or studies (further advice is available on this).  This application process allows the Council to satisfy itself that both the accommodation and those involved in the operation of the HMO meet the relevant requirements.  HMO Licenses are processed by the HMO & Landlord Registration Team, Regulatory Services, Kilmory, Lochgilphead, Argyll and Bute, PA31 8RT. E-mail:-

Making an Application

Owners of properties can apply for HMO licences using the application pack which contains the following:

The Guidance Note provides detail on the types of property that must be licensed, the fee associated with that and how to complete and submit the application.  There are checklists available on pages 12/13 of the HMO Application form which assist the applicant in ensuring that all the correct documents are submitted with the application for new, renewals and variation to licences. Please follow the advice in the Guidance and also information set out in the Approved Standards before submitting the application.

Planning and Regulatory Services Guidance

Technical Guidance from Planning and Regulatory Services for Houses in Multiple Occupation contains information and guidance for proposed HMOs

Read Technical Note - Houses in Multiple Occupation


For each licence application made you will require to submit a fee as listed below (from 1st April 2023).  This can be paid at any Council Customer Contact Point or by cheque made payable to ‘Argyll & Bute Council’.  The licence can not be accepted as competent unless the fee has been paid.

Description Price
HMO - premises with less than 10 people 953.90
HMO - premises with 10 or more people 1167.20
HMO - Refund if a new/renewal application is unsuccessful 238.60
HMO - Amendment to HMO licence 140.85

Processing the application

Once processed a copy of the application and relevant submitted documents will be sent to the Fire Service, Building Control and also, if appropriate, the Health and Safety Executive depending on the nature of the premises.  The Council’s Planning department will be consulted to verify you have any required planning permission for the property.  Police Scotland will be consulted to provide any information relevant to the application in relation to the applicants, agent or manager noted on the application form.  A visit(s) to the property will be arranged by the relevant authorities to  enable the property to be assessed as suitable and safe in terms of the Council’s Approved Standards for HMO’s. This may take the form of a joint visit between Fire Service, Building Control and Environmental Health.

Regulation and Enforcement

A licence is required in relation to Part 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (the “2006 Act”).   The Council has approved a set of Housing Standards which owners are required to meet with regard to their property which will be a house in multiple occupation.  The Council will take active steps to identify unlicensed HMOs and to bring them within the licensing regime.  Where an HMO licence is already in place there are a wide range of enforcement options available to the Council to address issues that arise.  These enforcement options are set out in the Statutory Guidance to Local Authorities on Licensing of HMOs

Objections and representations

As indicated on the ‘Notice of Posting’ members of the public can raise objections.   Any objections and representations in relation to the application must be addressed to Regulatory Services, Argyll & Bute Council, Kilmory, Lochgilphead, Argyll, PA31 8RT within 28 days of the application being submitted and the Notice of Posting being displayed at the property.  Objections and representations should be made in accordance with the following provisions namely:

  1. Any objection or representation relating to an application for the grant or renewal of the licence shall be entertained but only if the objection or representation:
  • is in writing
  • specifies the grounds of the objection or, as the case may be, the nature of the representation;
  • specifies the name and address of the person making it;
  • is signed by them or on their behalf;
  • was made to them within 28 days of whichever is the later or as the case may be the latest of the following dates:
  1. Where public notice of the application was given in a newspaper, the date when it was first given;
  2. Where the Argyll and Bute Council has required the applicant to display the Notice again from that specified date.
  3. In any other case, the date when the application was made to them.
  4. It shall be competent for Regulatory Services Manager to entertain an objection or representation received by them before they take a final decision upon the application to which it relates if they are satisfied that there is sufficient reason why it was not made in the time required.
  5. An objection or representation shall be made for the purposes of section 1  aforementioned if it is delivered by hand within  the time specified to the correct address or posted (by registered or recorded delivery) so that in the normal course of post it might be expected to be delivered to them within that time.
  6. Argyll and Bute Council shall send a copy of the objection or representation to the applicant.

Refused Licence application

A licence application may be rejected or refused; if the initial application is not complete applicants will be made aware and given a reasonable time to respond, however if the stated application requirements are not met the application will be rejected; if after reports by authorised officers and public representations have been received and reviewed there is reason not to issue the licence the application will be refused.  If the licence is refused you will have an opportunity to make representation in writing to the Regulatory Services Manager.


Any person on whom the Council is required to serve a notice of decision has the right of appeal against the decision, by summary application to the Sheriff.  Any appeal must be made within 28 days of receiving the notice, unless the sheriff exercises discretion to consider late applications on cause shown.  The Sheriff may confirm, or quash the original decision returning it to the Council for reconsideration.

Public Register

The Council maintains a public register of all applications made for HMO licences and the decisions made, this is available on our website in our Licensing Register, or by request to the HMO & Landlord registration team, Regulatory Services.

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