Home   Business   Licences and permits   House in multiple occupation (HMO) licence

House in multiple occupation (HMO) licence

When do I need a Licence? 

If you rent a property to 3 or more unrelated people who share a kitchen, bathroom or a toilet, you must have a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence from the council.

Is 'Landlord Registration' enough? 

No. If the house is Registered under the separate Landlord Registration scheme but is an HMO, the Registration is not an exemption, and you should still apply for an HMO Licence.

Landlord Registration is regulated by different legislation (the Antisocial Behaviour (Scotland) Act 2004). If Living Accommodation is covered by the HMO definition then there must be a Licence, unless any of the statutory exemptions apply.

What happens if I don't have an HMO Licence?

  • the Council may issue a 'Rent Suspension Order' 

This means Tenants or Occupiers stop having to pay rent, but the lease or other occupancy arrangement continues, so they remain in occupation and cannot be evicted for non-payment. If there is a lease, the Landlord still has to keep the house in good repair


Housing Benefit is stopped (the Department of Work and Pensions may also stop the Housing element of Universal Credit) 

  • the Landlord and anyone acting as his/her agent can be prosecuted for a criminal offence. The penalty is a fine up to £50,000. 

How to apply

Before you begin, please read our HMO guidance pack (Word, 38kb)

Complete and return a HMO application form (Word, 171kb).

If you intend to take steps within 3 months to stop being an HMO needing a Licence, you can apply for a "Temporary Exemption Order". This lasts for three months.


All fees can be found on our licence fees webpage.

HMO licences are not renewed, but if you apply for a new Licence for Premises which currently have an HMO Licence, the existing Licence stays in force even after the usual 3-year duration. The fee is reduced if the Premises already had an HMO Licence. 

There is no reduction to either fee if the Premises were included under a Landlord Registration. 

Please include the fee with your completed application form. Cheques should be made payable to North Ayrshire Council. If your applications is refused or granted for a shorter period than you applied for, the fee will not be refunded or reduced. 

What happens next?

When we have received your application and fee we'll consult with Police Scotland and council departments. We'll arrange to carry out an inspection on your proposed premises to make sure they meet the required standards.

Your application will be advertised on this website to allow for objections or representations.

If there is any comment from the public, Police Scotland or any council department, you will be told and your application will be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision. If the Committee decides to have a hearing, you will be invited to that and you will be able to speak to the Committee. The majority of applications do not require a hearing and are granted by council officers.

It may take up to 3 months to process your application. If you haven’t heard from the Licensing Office in this time please contact us.

How long does the licence last?

If granted, this licence lasts 3 years from the date of issue and can be renewed.

If you already hold a licence and you apply again to renew it before it expires, the licence continues even after expiry, until North Ayrshire Council make a decision on the renewal.

Does the licence have any conditions?

The licence will have the council's Standard Conditions. In some cases the council may apply special conditions appropriate to your particular circumstances.

The conditions will be set out in the licence document you will be given. If these are broken, then:

  • you and any agent can be charged by Police Scotland  
  • the Licensing Committee can suspend the licence after a hearing. You will be invited to such a hearing and will be able to speak to the committee.

Contact Licensing




01294 310000


Licensing Section, Legal Services, North Ayrshire Council, Cunninghame House, Irvine, KA12 8EE