What to do if you've 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.

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 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.

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.

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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