Moving on from relationship breakdown

This page looks at your options if you want or need to leave the family home and move to new accommodation. It also explains your rights if you find yourself with nowhere to stay.

An adviser at a Shelter advice or Citizens Advice should be able to go over your housing options with you and help you decide on your best course of action. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.

What if I end up with nowhere to stay?

If you become homeless due to a relationship breakdown, you can make a homeless application to the council's housing department. Remember, you don't have to be sleeping on the street to be homeless. If you are staying temporarily with friends or family or living in a refuge, hostel, hotel or bed and breakfast, you will still be classed as homeless.

You can also make a homeless application if it is no longer reasonable to live in your home, for example because your partner is threatening or abusing you or because your relationship has broken down irretrievably.

The council will need to look into your situation and decide what kind of help you should get. You should be offered a place to stay while they are doing this.

You don't have to apply to your local council: if you are afraid to stay in your local area, you can apply to a council elsewhere and they will have to accept your application. They won't be able to send you back to your local area if you are at risk of abuse there, even if you don't have any connection to the council area you are applying to.

Applying for housing from the council or an RSL

You may wish to put your name down on the waiting list for a council house or accommodation from a housing association or housing cooperative (also known as registered social landlords or RSLs). You can put your name down even if you are still living with your spouse or partner, although if you are a joint tenant you'll probably need to end your share in the tenancy first.

If the home you shared with your spouse or partner was also rented from the council or an RSL, they cannot take into account any rent arrears that were built up if your name was not on the tenancy agreement.

If you already rent your home from a council or RSL but are finding the property too big and expensive to run on your own, you could consider applying for a transfer to a smaller, more economical home.

Other options

Other options include:

The section on finding accommodation has more information on housing options.

The important points

  • If you become homeless due to a relationship breakdown, you can make a homeless application to the council's housing department.
  • You can also make a homeless application if it is no longer reasonable to live in your home, for example because your partner is threatening or abusing you.
  • You don't have to apply to your local council: if you are afraid to stay in your local area, you can apply to a council elsewhere and they will have to accept your application.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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