Houses in Multiple Occupation: Guidance on Planning Control and Licensing

Guidance on planning control and licensing in relation to Houses in Multiple Occupation.


2. There is a steady demand for HMOs in many parts of Scotland. HMOs have tended to be used mainly by students, and there are well-established concentrations of HMOs close to many higher and further education institutions. Rising student numbers have intensified demand in these areas, and are creating demand in other areas. More recently, other groups have started seeking HMO accommodation, particularly migrant workers and young professionals. These trends have resulted in an overall increase in the number of HMOs, as well as the formation of HMOs in areas and towns where there have previously been very few.

3. High concentrations of HMOs can lead to a range of cultural, social, physical and economic changes in a community. Such changes may be positive or negative, and may be perceived differently from community to community. Some of these changes, particularly regarding the behaviour of HMO tenants, are not matters for planning authorities. However, planning authorities may wish to adopt policies to limit HMO concentrations where the residential amenity of a community is already adversely affected by high concentrations of HMOs, or in areas where it is likely that this may happen in the future.

4. The range of potential problems associated with high concentrations of

HMOs can include:

  • changes in demand for services, altering the availability and nature of services provided;
  • increased competition for private houses, consequential rises in house prices, and reduced availability for non- HMO residents;
  • areas of high HMO concentrations can become unpopular with non- HMO residents, altering the community;
  • potential physical deterioration caused by lack of investment by absentee landlords;
  • increased population density, resulting in increased demand on services, infrastructure and on-street parking provision;
  • a high number of transient residents leading to less community cohesion [1] .


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