Jun, 2017


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  1. #1

    Angry Need to bend the rules to rent a flat, I would appreciate a landlords perspective.

    Hi everyone, I hope you're all well.

    Here's my situation: Myself and 2 friends are looking to rent a flat in Kirkcaldy (a town of 50,000 in Fife) but we've met a huge stumbling block... the requirement of an HMO licence. When letting in Edinburgh as a student every flat I lived in had this as standard but where I live there are zero, and I mean zero flats with an HMO licence. There are only 3-5 properties which meet our criteria as it is and they seem to stay on the market for a good few months each.

    We've racked our brains trying to find away around the rule but almost every option requires some bending off the rules:

    1) Be upfront and honest (has lead to quite a few rejections, right up to moving day.)
    2) Rent the flat as two tenants and don't declare the third, or say he's a guest.
    3) Rent the flat with a relative instead of a third person. But the 3rd person will be living in his place.

    Waiting hasn't worked as no properties appear to have HMO licences and honesty hasn't worked either.

    We've been friends our whole lives and there's little chance of serious incident.

    Could you please tell me which scenario (if any) currently happens and if you'd personally object if a 3rd person moved into a 3 bedroom flat if they're not on the lease.

    I would appreciate any opinions/feedback because we're currently stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Windowsill Bay


    Are you sure the flat needs a HMO with just 3 people?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Scotland, it needs a license.

    Unless 2 of you were in a relationship or relatives
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    How odd that the council will not entertain the idea of three unrelated adults living under one roof.

    I suppose your options are

    (a) don't live in Kirkcaldy
    (b) see if you can buy a cheap property between you (I appreciate that the deposit may be a stumbling block, but if you can borrow that, the mortgage repayments may well be cheaper than rent)
    (c) be dishonest (I wouldn't advise it - these things always come out in the wash).
    'Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation fo the first link on one memorable day'. Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005


    I would give up on the idea of sharing a property if there are no HMO's available.

    HMO licensing is an example of why there is no such thing as a little litigation.

    What the market required was protection from overcrowding and decent minnimum safety standards.

    Instead we have residential homes that are now treated in the same manner as hotels and hostels.

    I purchased a brand new property that met all the current building standards but still had to spend a further £7k to meet HMO standards (part 1 alarm, intumescent seals, new grate for vent).

    The good news for landlords/bad news for tenants has been that the restriction in supply of large properties has driven up room rents by about 40% since 2003 compared to the rest of the rental market in Scotland which has been broadly flat.

    Now we have council HMO officers dreaming up more crazy laws such as carpets in all hmos to justify their existence.

    I think that HMOs need to go back to being what they were originally for.

    I would suggest that an HMO licence is only needed in properties were there are more tenants than bedrooms.

    Safety should be limited to a mains wired smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm.

    In my opinion this will increase supply and drive down rents.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    It's not the council, not Kirkcaldy, not Fife, this is the whole of Scotland..


    Scotland introduced HMOs before the rest of UK (2000, after a bad case involving a student flat in Glasgow, bars over the windows etc etc... ) but I think went in a bit too enthusiastically,.

    Somewhat agree with Sandi: Certainly Scottish HMO tenants, landlord, etc legislation would benefit from only requiring licenses on same grounds as England..
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

  7. #7


    Thanks for the replies folks.

    We all work in Kirkcaldy and assuming all of the surrounding towns have the same problem, moving to our nearest city (Edinburgh) is really out of the question. As for buying a place outright, I don't see one of the three having the means to do so, and I'm not happy with the long term commitment either.

    It seems crazy that I could move in with a friend and his brother but not two friends. The HMO law, which is meant to benefit us, has scuppered any chance of finding a place outright.

    Maybe it would ease our minds if you could answer these from a landlords perspective:

    1) Would you be suspicious of two people renting a three bedroom flat?
    2) Would you be unhappy if you found out a "guest" was staying in the third bedroom?
    3) Could you realistically tell that a third person was living there? (Given the 24h warning etc.) And would you actively look to prove so?

    I'm starting to think the switcheroo with the brother may be the way to go. If anyone wants to be candid and say "We'd probably turn a blind eye" or similar, feel free to do so.

    Thanks again.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005


    Personally I would be suspicious of two people renting a three bedroom property and if I found out there was three people living there then I would ask them to leave when the lease ran out.

    I have come across plenty of landlords who would turn a blind eye and there was one landlord who in Aberdeen who tried to claim his tenants were a religious group.

    The most obvious way of finding out would be at a management inspection - third room being used or to many toothbrushes.

    You could also get a call from the council if they believe an unlicensed HMO is operating.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Agree with Sandi:

    Any landlord would run a BIG risk - the fine for operating an unlicensed HMO is up to £50k.. albeit not used that often.

    I have a 3-bed house with 1 single lady, but apart for guests from time2time (family, weekends etc..) the other two bedrooms are not used as bedrooms (there is one hamster...)

    I had tenants who sublet, creating an unlicensed HMO: It was a right big problem... eventually evicted them, and grassed them up to HMRC for the extra income they were getting: I know it worked as HMRC wrote to one of them (he'd not changed his address... ) about the matter & the envelope "fell open..."...

    If you found a LL prepared to allow all 3 to rent as unlicensed I'd assume he'd "not bother" with other things - gas safety, electric safety, permission-to-let from mortgage co, declaring rent income to HMRC, sticking to the rules on evictions... you know, stuff that doesn't matter...

    Sorry, law it law...
    I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

  10. #10


    Thanks for the responses. Will need to think this one over.

    It's starting to sound like the "have a relative sign" may be the best option.

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