ski resort at night

HMO licensing covers a wide range of types of living accommodation, from a three-person shared flat to a 100-room hall of residence, hotel staff accommodation to sheltered housing, Victorian tenements to new, purpose-built group homes. HMO operators are therefore involved in a range of activities which are subject to other regulatory regimes in addition to HMO licensing.

3.5.2   Some of these other forms of regulation are clearly separate from the business of providing accommodation. There are, however, a few forms of regulation which interact more closely with HMO licensing. If these are not carefully handled, applicants and objectors may see them as duplicating the same controls, possibly with inconsistent results.

3.5.3   It is important to be clear that different regulatory regimes control different aspects of the activity, that each of them must be separately complied with, and that enforcement action can be taken if any one requirement is not met. It is helpful if HMO officers have a general understanding of the other regimes which may be involved, so that they can advise applicants as appropriate (e.g. to check that particular requirements which may apply to them are complied with). However, it is the individual HMO owner’s responsibility to ensure that they comply with the law in all respects.

3.6                   FIRE SAFETY

3.6.1   HMOs fall within the scope of the fire safety regime in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (asp 5) and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (SSI 2006/456) which came into force on 1 October 2006. Under that legislation it is for the person or persons with duties under the legislation to determine what fire safety measures are appropriate to provide on the basis of an assessment of risk.

3.6.2   Although the fire and rescue chief officer is a statutory consultee for HMO licences under the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, the fire and rescue authority has independent responsibility for enforcing the fire safety legislation in HMOs through the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.  This is separate from the HMO licensing regime. This enforcement is done on a risk assessed basis with resources targeted at higher risk premises.
3.6.3   The approach for fire safety in Scotland is to avoid overlapping regimes and duplication by operating a single fire safety regime.  Fire safety is therefore principally dealt with through the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005.  Section 71 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 restricts the extent to which licensing regimes can deal with fire safety.  As a consequence general fire safety measures cannot be imposed through the HMO licensing regime by way of licence conditions. 
3.6.4   However the local authority has a duty to take into account the condition of living accommodation as well as the safety and security of persons likely to occupy it – the authority should therefore take into account the level of fire safety in the HMO and the extent of compliance with the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, together with the advice or recommendations of the chief officer of the fire and rescue authority and may, if it sees fit, refuse to grant a licence on this basis.
3.6.5   The Scottish Government has produced a number of guidance documents to assist those with fire safety responsibilities.  Two of the guides are relevant to HMOs:
  • Practical fire safety guidance for small premises providing sleeping accommodation
  • Practical fire safety guidance for medium and large premises providing sleeping accommodation

3.6.6   Further information on the legislation and the guidance is available on the FireLaw website at

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