Your rights in temporary accommodation
This content applies to Scotland only.
Housing laws vary between Scotland and England. Get advice relating to England
This page explains your rights if you are homeless and staying in temporary accommodation provided by the council.
Who is entitled to temporary accommodation?
If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, you can apply to the council to help you find somewhere to live. Before it decides what kind of help to offer you, the council will need to look into your situation. It will offer you somewhere to stay (called temporary accommodation) while they are doing this if:
- it believes you are homeless and eligible for assistance, and
- you have nowhere else where you can stay.
If you are in this position and the council doesn't offer you temporary accommodation, get advice from a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice. Use our Advice Services Directory to find help near you.
When am I entitled to temporary accommodation?
You are entitled to temporary accommodation when:
- the council is looking into your situation once you have made a homeless application (this is also called emergency or interim accommodation)
- the council has decided it doesn't have to offer you a permanent home, but you have not yet found anywhere else to live
- you have asked the council to review its decision on your application and are waiting for the outcome of the review
- the council has decided it will offer you a new, permanent home, and you are waiting to move there.
To find out more about applying to the council as homeless and the inquiries the council has to make, go to the section on help from the council. You can also find out more about what temporary accommodation is like.
What kind of tenancy will I have?
- If you are staying in temporary accommodation for longer than six months, you will probably be given a short Scottish secure tenancy.
- If your temporary accommodation is rented from a private landlord, you may be a short assured tenant.
- Otherwise, you are likely be a common law tenant, although this may not be the case if you are staying in a hostel (see 'What if I'm staying in a hostel?' below).
Will temporary accommodation be suitable for me?
The council has a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation that is suitable for you and your family. Temporary accommodation should:
- not be overcrowded
- not be a danger to your health (for example, it should have adequate fire safety provisions and should not be damp or in need of major repair work)
- meet any special needs of you or your family.
In addition, the council has to take a number of other factors into account when it decides whether the accommodation is suitable:
- how much rent you can afford to pay
- the condition of the accommodation
- whether it is the right size for your family
- where the accommodation is
- any health needs you may have
- social factors (such as whether you need to be close to support services, family or special schools).
What if it isn't suitable?
If you are offered temporary accommodation that you don't think is suitable, you can turn it down, but think carefully and talk to an adviser before you do. If you refuse temporary accommodation that the council thinks is suitable for you, it may not have to give you any more help.
Get advice if you're in this situation - you can use our Advice Services Directory to find help near you. An adviser may be able to help you convince the council that you should be offered something more suitable for your needs. However, because the accommodation is only meant to be temporary and many areas have very little available, it would have to be very unsuitable before you could successfully challenge the council about it.
Do I have to stay there?
Even if the council has offered you temporary accommodation, you can stay with family or friends if you choose. The council must still continue to make inquiries into your situation. If your situation changes and you have to move out before the council finishes its inquiries, you should be provided with somewhere to stay.
What if I want to leave?
If you want to leave temporary accommodation before the council has found you permanent accommodation, you will not be found intentionally homeless. The council will still have a duty to find you permanent accommodation if it has already decided to do so.
What if I'm asked to leave?
If the council wishes you to leave your temporary accommodation, you should be given at least four weeks' notice in writing.
You may be evicted from temporary accommodation for any of the following reasons:
- because you've broken a condition of your tenancy agreement
- because the council no longer has a duty to help you (for example, because it has helped you find a new home)
- because the council has found you a permanent home.
Go to the page on eviction from temporary accommodation to find out more.
What if I have problems and need to leave?
If you have problems in your temporary accommodation (for example, if you are being harassed) you should inform the council and get advice immediately. The council may be able to help you sort the problems out. If not, they should find you temporary accommodation somewhere else.
You should not be assessed as intentionally homeless if you leave your temporary accommodation - talk to an adviser if this happens to you.
How long will I be in temporary accommodation for?
The council should try to assess your situation and give you a decision as to whether you are eligible for permanent accommodation within 28 days. However, this may not always be possible, so you may need to stay in temporary accommodation for longer.
If, after assessing your situation, the council decides you are not eligible for permanent accommodation, you will be able to stay in your temporary accommodation while you look for your own accommodation. Usually you'll be allowed around 28 days. Read the page on continued temporary accommodation to find out more.
If the council decides you are eligible for permanent housing, you will probably have to remain in temporary accommodation until a suitable home is found for you. This may take some time, depending on the availability of suitable housing in the area and the kind of accommodation you and your family need.