An essential part of considering a licence application is establishing whether the applicant, as well as any agent they wish to act for them in relation to the HMO, is a ‘fit and proper’ person.

4.2.2                                             It may prove useful to verify that the applicant is indeed the owner of the property, if it is suspected that the applicant is dishonestly applying on behalf of an unsuitable owner.

4.2.3   The local authority should consider whether the applicant has any relevant convictions. Not all convictions would be relevant to a person’s prospective role as an operator of an HMO. For example, motoring offences would not normally be relevant, but a conviction for fraud or theft could be since the operator would be in a position of trust.

4.2.4   If the HMO operator is subject to any other form of regulation the local authority may also wish to approach the relevant regulatory authority, such as the SCSWIS or the environmental health service, for their comments. This would usually focus on the applicant’s record of maintaining expected standards and their response if concerns are raised. In addition, the local authority should consider the advice of their fire and rescue authority on the applicant’s approach to fire safety.

4.2.5   The local authority must refuse an application if it considers that either the applicant or their agent is not a fit and proper person. The factors which the local authority must have regard to in determining whether the applicant or agent are fit and proper are in section 85 of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended, which also applies to Landlord Registration. Where an applicant or agent is not an individual, these tests apply to any director, partner or other person involved in the management of the company, trust or organisation.

4.2.6   The local authority must have regard to whether the person has:
  • committed certain types of offence, involving fraud or other acts of  dishonesty, violence, or drugs
  • practised unlawful discrimination
  • contravened housing law or landlord and tenant law
  • carried out actions or failures to act in relation to antisocial behaviour affecting a house let by the applicant or for which the applicant was an agent.
  • The local authority must also consider any other material which it considers to be relevant.

4.2.7   There are clear benefits to administrative co-operation between local authority landlord registration teams and HMO licensing teams in obtaining and collating information to inform decisions on whether an applicant is fit and proper. Co-operation will avoid needless duplication of effort and ensure that all the relevant information is available. Ultimately however it is for the local authority, in its capacity as licensing authority, or for the delegated officer, to decide whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to act as an HMO owner or agent based on all the information available.

4.2.8   A local authority is obliged to maintain a public register, including details of its decision in relation to each application, as well as in relation to variations, revocations and cancellations of licences, and any other information as it thinks fit.  Local authorities might wish to include information about the grounds on which a licence was refused or revoked, which it is suggested might prove a useful resource for other licensing authorities.

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