The Scottish Government's vision is for the people of Scotland to be able to live in good quality homes, that have high management standards and which are fit for the future.
With around 770,000 people now living in privately rented homes, we know that the sector plays a vital role in helping to meet housing need in Scotland. Tenants should be able to rely on their landlord to provide them with a home that meets all of the standards set out in legislation, whilst providing a professional service.
To ensure standards continue to rise, the Scottish Government is determined to support the development of a more targeted and effective regulatory framework.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing plays a crucial role within that regulatory framework. Such properties provide an important supply of housing, particularly for some groups of people such as students, contract and transient workers and those who require support in a homely setting.
The purpose of HMO licensing is to ensure that accommodation offered within a shared property is safe, of good quality and is well managed. Landlords of HMO properties must have a license from the local council, ensuring that the property is managed properly and meets certain safety standards.
This consultation seeks your views on adding new categories to the definition of an HMO. The aim is to address potential health and safety concerns in relation to the accommodation that contract and transient workers live in when they are working away from their home.
We know that many people are required to work away from home, some for only a short time, others on a long term basis. The private rented sector is recognised as providing a good housing option for those requiring such flexibility and we know that many contract and transient workers stay within HMO properties, often sharing the accommodation with colleagues in an arrangement made between their employer and a private landlord.
However, we are also aware that many contract and transient workers arrange their own accommodation when working away from home and will often enter into long term arrangements with holiday accommodation providers, hostel owners or Bed and Breakfast owners. Some employers will also actively seek accommodation such as this, in order to avoid the need for finding a property with an HMO license in place.
Often, these workers will use the accommodation in a way that differs from a normal tourist – perhaps by agreeing with the owner that they are able to access kitchen facilities in order to make their own evening meal, or by changing the contents of a room to include cooking facilities.
This type of accommodation is not subject to the same safety requirements as HMOs, so the Scottish Government considers that there are clear health and safety concerns because the property is being used in a different way than normal tourist accommodation.
I believe that contract and transient workers – who often have no choice as to where they stay when they are required to work away from their home - should be afforded the same rights as those who live in shared, rented property as their only or main residence. I look forward to hearing your views on the proposals contained within this consultation.
Kevin Stewart MSP
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning