This content applies to Scotland only.
Housing laws vary between Scotland and England. Get advice relating to England
If you pass all the council's homelessness tests, you should be offered a permanent home. This page explains what permanent accommodation consists of, how the offer will be made and what you can do if you're not happy with the offer.
The rules that govern homelessness legislation changed at the end of 2012. The major change was the ending of the priority need test, this means that if you are assessed as unintentionally homeless you have the right to a home. This page has been updated to reflect these changes.
Who is entitled to permanent accommodation?
You will be offered permanent accommodation if the council has decided that:
- you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and
- you are eligible for assistance, and
- you didn't become homeless intentionally, and
- you have a local connection to the area.
What kind of permanent accommodation will I be offered?
Only certain types of accommodation count as 'permanent'. These are:
- council tenancies
- housing association tenancies
- assured (i.e. long term) tenancies with a private landlord.
Permanent accommodation must:
- not be overcrowded
- not be a danger to your health (for example, too cold or damp)
- meet any special needs you or your family may have (for example, it may need to be wheelchair accessible)
- be reasonable for you to live in (for example, it shouldn't be in an area where you are at risk of violence).
When offering you permanent accommodation, the council should also make sure that you will have reasonable access to:
- your friends and family
- your place of work
- your children's schools
- suitable healthcare services
- support services to help you maintain your tenancy (this could include a jobcentre or training programme if you are out of work, or counselling services to help you tackle any problems you may have).
You should consider any offer you receive carefully. If you are not happy with the offer or are unsure of your rights, get advice immediately. Use the Advice Services Directory to find a local advice centre in your area that can help you.
I have been offered an assured tenancy
The council may be able to arrange an assured tenancy with a private landlord. Very few private landlords are willing to provide assured tenancies because they give greater rights than most other private tenancies. A short assured tenancy will not count as an offer of permanent housing as it only comes with limited rights.
I have been offered a permanent tenancy with the council or a housing association
You may be offered a permanent tenancy with the council or a housing association, normally a Scottish secure tenancy (SST). Scottish secure tenants have many rights and can normally stay in their homes indefinitely, provided they stick to the conditions of their tenancy agreement.
You may be offered a short Scottish secure tenancy (SSST), with fewer rights if:
- you or someone in your household has been evicted for antisocial behaviour in the last three years, or
- you are subject to an antisocial behaviour order when the offer of permanent accommodation is made, or
- you need support in your tenancy.
What other kinds of accommodation could I be offered?
In some circumstances, the council may offer you supported accommodation. This may be:
- accommodation for young people, with support to help you sustain your tenancy
- accommodation for disabled people, which is specially adapted for your needs
- accommodation to support people with drug or alcohol problems.
Will I get a choice?
You may be offered a choice of more than one home, but this is not guaranteed. In some areas, you may only get one offer.
An adviser in your area should be able to tell you how many offers your local council normally makes. Use the Advice Services Directory to find a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice in your area. Alternatively, ask the council for information about its policy on providing a choice of accommodation.
What is a 'final offer'?
When the council makes you an offer of permanent housing, it should tell you if it is the last offer you'll be made. The council has to be satisfied that the accommodation you are offered is suitable for you and any children you have.
The council must also inform you that:
- you have the right to ask the council to review the offer if you think the accommodation isn't suitable
- if you refuse the offer the council won't have to help you any more and you will have to move out of your temporary accommodation.
If you are not given this information when the offer is made, then it shouldn't count as a final offer. However, when you are made an offer, it's always best to check with the council whether it is a final offer, or whether you will be made another offer if you turn it down.
What if I don't like the offer?
If you are offered a tenancy that you don't think is suitable, it's very important to get advice before you turn it down. If you refuse a final offer that the council thinks is suitable for you, it may not have to give you any more help. The offer will be withdrawn and you will have to leave your temporary accommodation.
In some cases, it may be better to accept an unsuitable offer because:
- you can ask the council to review its decision about whether the accommodation is suitable after you move in
- you will have somewhere to stay while the council reviews its decision
- you will have somewhere to stay if your review is unsuccessful
- if it is a council tenancy, you may be able to request a transfer, or exchange your home with another council tenant.
It's very important that you get advice before you make a decision to turn down the offer. An adviser can:
- check whether the council has followed the correct procedure
- look into whether or not you are likely to get a better offer
- help you negotiate with the council
- possibly help you arrange an exchange
- help you get a review of the decision.
What happens if I accept an offer?
If you are happy and accept the permanent accommodation you're offered, the council will tell you when you can move in. After that date, the council will no longer have a responsibility to provide temporary accommodation.
Can I arrange my own permanent accommodation instead?
Yes, if you prefer to find your own accommodation you can do so. However, once you have secured this accommodation, you will have to give up the temporary accommodation the council has provided and it will no longer have a responsibility to help you.
When a council does not have to have to offer permanent accommodation?
There are two reasons when a council might not provide you with an offer of permanent accommodation. The first is when there has been a housing support services assessment of your needs and it has been decided that the level of support needed means an offer of permanent accommodation would be unsuitable. This also applies if someone residing with you has also had that decision made from the housing support services assessment. The second is where a short assured tenancy may be available.
Depending on your situation, the council can provide suitable short-term (sometimes called transitional) accommodation or offer you a short assured tenancy with a minimum duration of 12 months.
Before the council can offer you one of these options there are conditions that have to be met before either can be considered as suitable. The conditions are listed below.
The council cannot just provide you with the short-term accommodation on its own. You must also be provided with all of the following from the council:
- All of the services required as detailed in the housing support services assessment, and a record of the services that are provided must also be kept
- Access to advice and information that is independent and relates to the services required by you
- A timetable outlining the provision of the short-term accommodation and the housing support services. This timetable needs to be agreed with you
- A date where the short-term accommodation and housing support services can be reviewed. This date should be no longer than 6 months from when you first moved into the short-term accommodation
- That the council will still have to offer you permanent accommodation in the future. This will be when the housing support service assessment determines that permanent accommodation is suitable for you
- A means by which the short-term accommodation and housing support services provided will be monitored.
A short assured tenancy
The council can only offer you a short assure tenancy if you agree to the offer. If you do agree it is also required that the conditions below are met. If you do not agree with the offer of the short assured tenancy then the council will still have the responsibility to offer you permanent accommodation:
- The duration of the short assured tenancy is no less than 12 months
- You have already had an initial short assured tenancy of at least 6 months in length between the date of your homeless application and the date of the offer of the 12 month short assured tenancy becoming available
- The 12 month short assured tenancy is affordable to you
- The house is suitable for your needs
- The support required to meet any housing support services is available to you
- The council has advised you of your rights as a tenant with a short assured tenancy
- The council is also required that you are made aware of the landlord’s rights and responsibilities
- The council also has to inform you of independent advice and information services that are available. Such as law centres, Citizens Advice Bureaux and Shelter
- You have to agree in writing that the council's responsibility to provide permanent accommodation has been met by securing the 12 months short assured tenancy and where all of the conditions (including this) have been met fully.