Any Edinburgh letting agent or landlord who rents out properties of three bedrooms or more needs to know what an HMO license is and how it impacts the letting process and conditions of relevant properties


What is an HMO License and how is it relevant to letting a property in Edinburgh?

HMO is the commonly used abbreviation for Home of Multiple Occupancy. HMO licenses are issued by local authorities in Scotland for properties of 3 bedrooms or more that are to be used as house or flat shares. They are most commonly used in student lets, but can also be used in the case of shared accomodation for professional tenants. It is illegal to rent an Edinburgh property to 3 or more individuals (who are not related to each other) unless it has an HMO license granted by Edinburgh council.


What’s involved in obtaining an HMO license for a rental property in Edinburgh?

HMO properties are subject to higher standards of safety and social conditions than normal rental properties. There are tighter conditions relating to room sizes and fire doors that a property must meet before it will be considered for a license. There also must be a notice posted on the street outside the property to inform local residents that a license has been applied for and give them an opportunity to post any objections.


The HMO Application Process

Applications for HMO licenses for rental properties in Edinburgh are submitted by the landlord or their Edinburgh letting agency to Edinburgh council with a long list of attached documentation. This includes all of the relevant and up to date safety certificates, a floor plan and a detailed application form covering the rental aspects of the property. HMO application fees start at £653 in 2022/23 for 3 bedroom properties and go up from there. A first time application for a license means it will only be granted for 1 year but subsequent renewal applications can be made for 3 years licenses at the same cost.



Applications for HMO licenses are currently heavily delayed with Edinburgh council. Applications are currently taking around 9-12 months to be processed. This means that for buy to let investors who buy a rental property in Edinburgh with the intention of obtaining an HMO license, they should expect to rent the property first without an HMO license to a maximum of 2 individual tenants until the license has been granted where they can then review the rent and tenancy arrangements on the property in light of the license being granted.


What does it cost to get a property HMO ready?

Getting a property ready for HMO usually costs around £4,000 depending on the property. It can be more expensive if, for example, the property is split over 2 levels and a sprinkler system for fire safety might need to be installed.


We cover all aspects of the HMO preparation, licensing and management process. If you have a property that you are considering renting as an HMO in Edinburgh, drop us a line to find out more about what is involved.