This guidance is applicable for Scotland; similar schemes operate in England and Wales but local guidance should be sought on these.
There are three types of property licensing, a brief overview of each type is detailed below:
Before you can rent out your property you have to register with the local council which covers the area where your let property is located.
Registering before you rent out your property makes sure you meet the minimum legal requirements.
Joint owners (anyone else who is named on the title deeds) need to register too, but they will not be charged.
It's a criminal offence if you rent out your property without registering with a local council. You could be fined up to £50,000.
You can apply for landlord registration online on the Scottish Landlord Register website, or you can contact your local council's housing department.
There are some situations where you do not have to register with a council to rent out a property. These include:
- Holiday lets
- Houses managed by religious orders
- Houses with a resident landlord
- Houses with agricultural and crofting tenancies
- Letting to family members
- Houses providing care services governed by Care Inspectorate regulation
Mandatory Licence for a house in multiple occupancy (HMO)
This type of license is required for properties let to three or more people of two or more households (i.e. no family connection between two individuals), where occupants share facilities such as a kitchen and bathroom.
There are also other more complex forms for this type of licence.
Some criteria your local council will decide are:
- If you are 'fit and proper' (able) to hold an HMO licence.
- If the property is managed properly.
- If the property meets their required standards.
It's a criminal offence to rent out a home to 3 or more unrelated people without an HMO licence. You could be fined up to £50,000 if you do.
Although you legally have to be registered as a landlord in Scotland, you can also apply for accreditation. This could encourage tenants to rent out your property opposed to non-accredited landlords.
To apply for accreditation you can contact Landlord Accreditation Scotland and fill in their application form.
If you can confirm that you meet (or are working to meet) the standards listed in the form, you can become an accredited landlord.
Local councils may offer their own accreditation scheme or work in partnership with Landlord Accreditation Scotland.
How much does Landlord Registration cost?
There are three types of landlord registration fee:
- Principal Fee: £65
- Property Fee: £15 (per let property)
- Late Application Fee: £130
Discounts are available for:
- Landlords who own properties in more than one local authority area
- Joint owners
- Landlords who have a House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence
- Scottish charities
Contact your local authority for more information about fees.
What if a property is let without a licence?
If a property is let without the required licence application being complete, there are very strict penalties that can be imposed. These include, but are not limited to:
- Prosecution by the council leading to a criminal record, a fine of an unlimited amount as well as paying court costs.
- The council can issue a civil penalty of up to £50,000 for each offence.
- Rent Repayment Order - up to 12 months rental income can be reclaimed by the council or the tenants.
We therefore advise all clients that a licence should be in place or an application submitted, prior to a let or upon introduction of a new local licencing scheme. Landlords can receive on-going advice and support on changes to this legislation by taking out our regulation checking service, detailed in our terms of business.