Shelter advice services
This content applies to Scotland only.
Housing laws vary between Scotland and England. Get advice relating to England
Housing problems can be complicated, and you may need to speak to an adviser in order to work out the best solution for you. Advisers at Shelter advice services can help you solve your housing problems. This page explains how.
What services are available?
Shelter Scotland runs a telephone helpline offering free, confidential advice and assistance to anyone with a housing problem.
Local services are also available in East Lothian, the Scottish Borders and North Lanarkshire.
How can an adviser help me?
Our advisers can:
- tell you about your rights
- explain your options
- help you take action
- work with you to negotiate with your council, landlord or mortgage lender.
Advisers at our services have local knowledge of how councils in their area operate and have information on the housing options that are available. They may also be able to arrange for a solicitor to help you, for example, by representing you in court.
How do I access Shelter advice service?
You can access services:
When should I contact Shelter for advice?
It's never too late to get help from a housing adviser. So even if you're due to be evicted this afternoon, or you've nowhere to stay tonight, an adviser can help you out.
On the other hand, don't think you have to be in a desperate situation before you get in touch. For example, if you're having problems paying your rent, don't wait until you've had an eviction notice from your landlord - an adviser could help you sort out your arrears before it gets to that stage.
If you're worried about your housing situation and are afraid you may become homeless, get in touch straight away - don't wait until you're out on the street. An adviser may be able to help you avoid homelessness.
Where are Shelter's advice centres?
There are three advice centres in Scotland and local services for East Lothian, the Scottish Borders and North Lanarkshire. You can find which service covers your area using the Advice Services Directory.
If I need to seek advice, what do I need to do to prepare?
Before contacting a advice service, it will be helpful if you have with you:
- your rent book or bank statements to show rent payments you've been making
- any letters you've received from your landlord or from the court
- any letters you've received from your mortgage lender or bank
- your national insurance number.
Don't worry if you don't have these things to hand - an adviser will still be able to help you.
You can also ask a friend or support worker to ring on your behalf if you're worried about making contact yourself.
What happens when I contact Shelter?
Whichever service you access, advisers will talk to you in confidence. If English is not your first language, Shelter may be able to get an interpreter for you. Type Talk is available if you ring the helpline.
When you talk to the adviser, try and explain your situation in as much detail as possible, as this will allow the adviser to build up a clear picture of your circumstances and help you find the best solution.
Some aspects of your situation may be very personal and you may not want to tell the adviser about them. This is fine - you don't have to talk about anything you don't want to, but it may help the adviser solve your problems more quickly if you do.
There's no need to feel upset or embarrassed about talking to an adviser about personal things. They won't judge you or give you a lecture, and they won't try to make you do anything you don't want to do - they're here to help.
Will I have to pay?
Shelter advice services offer advice for free.
Will the adviser pass on information about me?
Whatever you say is usually just between you and the adviser you speak to. The adviser will only contact council departments such as the housing department, social work or housing benefit department if you want them to.
If there are other issues involved in addition to housing, the adviser may put you in touch with other specialist agencies that can help you, such as Scottish Women's Aid or a money advice centre. However, they won't do so without your consent.