Skip to main content

What to do if you are homeless and have nowhere to stay

If you don't have anywhere to stay, don't panic - there are several things you can do. This page looks at your options.

Go to your local council

If you don't have a place to stay, your first stop should be the housing department of your local council, to make a homeless application. The council should provide you with somewhere to stay while it looks into your situation, and you should be able to move into this temporary accommodation immediately. When the council has finished its inquiries, it should send you a letter explaining what kind of help you are entitled to and why.

If the council offices are closed, there should be an emergency number you can call. This number can usually be found on your council's website.

What help should I get?

Our 'What help does the council have to give me?' flowchart outlines what help your council should give you.

Use our Advice Services Directory to find help and advice near you.

I have nowhere to sleep tonight

If you have nowhere to stay tonight there are several options available to you. Emergency accommodation such as hostels exist and you may be able to get help from the council. Your options are detailed below.

Emergency accommodation

There are several kinds of accommodation that can be accessed in an emergency, including hostels and nightshelters, women's refuges and bed and breakfast hotels.

Sleeping rough

Sleeping rough can be dangerous and may damage your health and should only be considered if you have no other option available.

Squatting

Squatting is not an option in Scotland. If you are caught trying to get into someone else's property or living there without permission, you could end up facing criminal and civil action.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
Get advice if you're England

The important points

  • The council has a duty to provide emergency housing while it looks into your situation.
  • You should be able to access this housing even outside of office hours - check your council website for the phone number.
  • Try and only sleep rough as a last resort, it can be dangerous.
  • Squatting in Scotland is a criminal offence.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

Was this page helpful?

This feedback tool can't offer advice. If you still need help, please call our free housing helpline on 0808 800 4444

Would you recommend Shelter Scotland's website to a friend, colleague or family member?
(0 - not at all likely, 10 - extremely likely)


Your feedback is being submitted

Success! Thank you for your feedback.

Sorry, there was a problem sending your feedback to us. Please try again or contact us via the website if this error persists.

The fight isn't over - support us this summer

far from fixed campaign logo
It’s a disgrace that people are still homeless in Scotland today. Join our campaign
It’s a disgrace that people are still homeless in Scotland today.
Join Shelter Scotland in fundraising with the Borders Bike Ride
Join Shelter Scotland in fundraising with the Borders Bike Ride
Have you had a bad housing experience? Tell us about your story.
Share your story of a bad housing experience
£