Advice and assistance
This content applies to Scotland only.
Housing laws vary between Scotland and England. Get advice relating to England
Everyone who makes a homeless application and is eligible for help will be entitled to advice and assistance from the council. This page explains more about the type of advice and assistance you can expect to receive.
Who is entitled to advice and assistance?
You will be entitled to advice and assistance from the council if you are:
I'm not homeless or threatened with homelessness
If the council decides you are not homeless or threatened with homelessness, you won't be entitled to the full package of advice and assistance as outlined below. However, the council should give you general advice about your current housing situation, and may refer you to other local agencies that may be able to help you.
What kind of advice will I get?
If the council establishes that it does not have a duty to offer you permanent accommodation, you will be responsible for finding your own accommodation. However, the council must provide you with advice and help to do this.
You should be given advice on your housing options, as well as financial, legal and welfare advice.
Housing advice should include information about:
- the availability of permanent or temporary accommodation from the council and local housing associations
- how to apply for accommodation with the council or local housing associations and how waiting lists work
- how long you may have to wait for housing
- how to find privately rented accommodation and what estate agents and letting agencies do
- your rights if you rent in the private sector and the risks this may involve
- home ownership, including shared ownership and grants for repairs or building work.
Financial advice should be tailored to meet your circumstances but could include advice on:
- welfare benefits, grants and loans
- rent or mortgage arrears
- the costs of home ownership
- how to budget and manage your finances
- rent guarantee and deposit schemes
- specialist money advice agencies in your area.
Legal advice can include information about:
- court proceedings
- your legal rights
- who can get legal aid
- your right to independent advice and advocacy
- how to find a solicitor.
This could include information on:
- health and welfare services provided by the council or by other local agencies
- support services to help you settle into your new home.
What kind of assistance will I get?
After the council has sent you your decision letter, it should arrange for you to meet up with a housing or homelessness officer. You can ask to see either a male or female officer. If you require an interpreter with you at your meeting, let the council know in advance and this can be arranged. You can discuss your housing options with the officer and they will offer advice on your situation.
You should be given a record of your interview so that you can refer back to it in your own time. The record of your interview should be in a format that is appropriate for you, for example, in writing, in Braille or on an audio cassette.
The council will then arrange for you to have a follow up interview four weeks later, so you can discuss your progress and ask for further help if necessary.
The council can also take practical steps to assist you. For example, your homelessness officer might:
- put you in touch with other council departments who can help you, for example social work or a mediation service
- contact other support or advice agencies who can help you, for example housing aid centres or organisations offering support for young people, people with disabilities or people with drug or alcohol problems
- make appointments for you with letting agents, housing associations or other housing providers.
If you are not given a personal meeting or you are simply given a list of bed and breakfast or hostel accommodation in the area, the council is not fulfilling its duties properly - get advice immediately. Use the Advice Services Directory to find help near you.