What is an HMO?

In October 2000 a new Order came into effect requiring that Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) in Scotland be licensed. It was brought in as a secondary piece of legislation based on existing licensing laws.

The Order was introduced by the Scottish Parliament as a means of obliging unscrupulous landlords to provide proper and safe living conditions for their tenants. Small housing co-ops are now exempt, but only since October 2003 when a second Amendment Order came into effect.

Six small housing co-ops in Scotland formed a group calling themselves Scottish Friendly Housing and lobbied for exemption. They pointed out that various areas of the HMO regulations did not work well with small housing co-ops that ran as intentional communities. Also there were direct parallels with already exempt groups such as the owner occupied. In a similar way, housing co-op members are the tenants AND the landlords, but using the legal body of a registered housing co-op.

Only small housing co-ops are exempt – specifically targeting those co-ops that run as intentional communities. The test is whether the management of co-ops is undertaken by general meeting, ie that generally everyone is present and has a say in the day-to-day running of the co-op.

Scottish Friendly Housing are Auchinleck, Bath Street, Laurieston Hall, Ploughshare, Shindig and Talamh Housing Co-ops.
The original legislation is:
The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Order 2000. 
[SSI 2000 No 177]
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2000/20000177.htm

Guidance on the Mandatory Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation can be found on the Scottish Executive website. In effect these “Guidance notes” are the HMO rules as there is a strict interpretation except where other legislation applies.
http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/housing/himo-00.asp

The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Amendment Order 2003 [SSI 2003 No 463]
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2003/20030463.htm
This is the Amendment that specifically excludes Small housing co-ops, which in effect modifies the original Order to say:

“Any house which is owned by a co-ownership body [“co-ownership body” means a co-operative housing association, within the meaning of section 300(1)(b) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987], the management of which is undertaken by general meeting, shall not be regarded as a house for the purposes of this Order.”.

Housing Scotland Act, 1987, section 300(1)(b)
“Co-operative housing association” means a fully mutual housing association which is a society registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965, and “fully mutual” in relation to housing association, means that the rules of the association-

  • (i) restrict membership to persons who are tenants or prospective tenants of the association, and
  • (ii) preclude the granting or assignation of tenancies to person other than members.

There was an earlier Amendment Order although this does not mention Housing Co-ops:
The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Amendment Order 2002.
 [SSI 2002 No 161]
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/ssi2002/20020161.htm