Skip to main content

Accommodation for asylum seekers

If your application is successful then the UK Border Agency will have to provide you and your family with accommodation and support. It should make sure the accommodation is suitable and that you have enough money to meet your essential needs until your claim for asylum is finally decided.

What help will I get?

You will be provided with some or all of the following:

  • accommodation
  • financial support
  • advice and support services
  • some expenses relating to your claim for asylum.

Where will the accommodation be?

The UK Border Agency has entered into contracts with housing providers across the UK. These housing providers have agreed to supply housing on behalf of the Agency to people seeking asylum. This means that you could be allocated a house almost anywhere in the UK.

What kind of accommodation will I get?

The accommodation you receive might be a house, flat, lodging house or hostel. In most cases it will be board only but it is possible that you and your family could be provided with half board or full board accommodation. In half board and full board accommodation some or all of your meals will be provided for you. If you are given half or full board accommodation you should make sure you tell the UK Border Agency about any dietary requirements you have.

The UK Border Agency and the allocation of housing

The main thing the UK Border Agency will consider when it is deciding where to house you is where it has accommodation available. You will have little say in the kind of home you are given and your personal preferences about the location and style of the house will not be taken into account. Your and your family's circumstances will only be taken into account if they are relevant to your housing needs. For example, if your child has medical needs that can only be treated at a specialist hospital then the UK Border Agency should try to find you accommodation in that area.

If you feel that your needs or the needs of your family have not been considered by the UK Border Agency, you should contact the Scottish Refugee Council for information and advice.

What if I or my family have special needs?

If you made your claim for asylum after 5 February 2005 then the UK Border Agency has a special duty to consider the needs of any vulnerable people in your household. You'll be classed as 'vulnerable' if you are:

  • under 18
  • disabled
  • elderly
  • pregnant
  • a single parent.

If you've been a victim of torture, rape or other serious forms of psychological, physical or sexual violence, you'll have to have an individual evaluation confirming that you have 'special needs'.

If anyone in your family is vulnerable, you should make this clear when you apply for support, so that special arrangements can be made for your accommodation. For instance, if you or a member of your family is disabled, then the UK Border Agency might give you a house with wheelchair access and a bedroom on the ground floor.

If you feel that your needs or the needs of your family have not been considered by the UK Border Agency then you should contact the Scottish Refugee Council for information and advice.

If you, or a member of your family, have special needs that make it difficult to handle day-to-day tasks like eating or shopping then you might be able to get support and assistance from the council. For more information see the section on asylum seekers with care needs.

How will I get to my new home?

The UK Border Agency is responsible for taking you to your new accommodation and will cover the costs of your travel.

What if I'm not able to travel?

If you can't travel for any reason (for example, because you're too ill) then you should tell the UK Border Agency about this as soon as possible.

What if I refuse to go?

If you don't travel to your new place and don't have a good enough reason for this then the UK Border Agency can stop providing you with support.

I don't have children

If you don't have any children and you fail to travel then the UK Border Agency will stop your support and may evict you from your temporary accommodation after 48 hours. You will also lose the permanent accommodation the UK Border Agency has offered you.

If this happens then you will be able to make an appeal against the decision to the Asylum Support Tribunal to challenge the decision to take away your accommodation. Any appeal to the adjudicator must be made within three days of the Agency telling you that they are going to stop supporting you. Our page on making an appeal has more information on the appeal process and where to get help and advice.

I do have children

If you do have children and you don't travel then you could be evicted from your temporary accommodation after five days. However, if this happens, the offer of permanent accommodation will remain open to you and your family. You will not be able to appeal to the Asylum Support Tribunal against the UK Border Agency's decision to withdraw your temporary accommodation.

Moving into your new home

When you arrive at your new home you will be asked to sign an occupancy agreement. An occupancy agreement is a legal contract between you and your accommodation provider. By signing the agreement, you are making a legal promise to follow all the rules that it contains.

Before you sign the contract you should read its contents carefully and make sure you understand it and are willing and able to agree to its terms. If you think that the agreement is unfair or you don't fully understand it then you should get independent advice from the Scottish Refugee Council.

The contract will also list some of the duties your housing provider has. For instance, your provider will have to do any repairs that are needed in your home and cover the cost of charges such as gas, electricity and council tax. If your housing provider does not carry out its duties then you should consider making a formal complaint. For more information you should contact Positive Action in Housing or the Scottish Refugee Council.

Minimum standards of accommodation

The accommodation provider must make sure that your house meets certain safety and quality standards. Of particular importance is the 'tolerable standard.'

What is a tolerable standard?

The tolerable standard is a basic level that all homes must reach before it is legal to allow people to live in them. In order to meet this standard the accommodation must:

  • be structurally sound
  • be mostly free from damp
  • receive a reasonable amount of natural light
  • have hot and cold water
  • have a suitable drainage system
  • have a sink and a shower, bath or wash hand basin
  • have a toilet to be used by the family that is not shared with any other household.

Whose responsibility is this?

It is your accommodation provider's duty to make sure that your home meets these standards. If you think that your home doesn't meet the tolerable standard or you think that it is unsuitable in any other way then you should get in touch with your housing provider to ask for help.

If you are not sure who your housing provider is then you should look at the occupancy agreement you signed when you first moved into your home. In most cases your housing provider will be Glasgow City Council, Angel Group or the YMCA.

Complaining about your accommodation

If your provider doesn't take any action to improve your accommodation then you should consider following their internal complaints procedure. Alternatively you should inform the UK Border Agency of the problem you are having. For more information or help with making a formal complaint you should get in touch with Positive Action in Housing or the Scottish Refugee Council.

Although it is your accommodation provider's job to make sure your home meets the tolerable standard, the UK Border Agency also has a general duty to make sure that you are provided with adequate accommodation. They have inspectors that should come and look at the property on a regular basis. If there are children in your household, the UK Border Agency must also ensure that the accommodation meets their needs.

If your accommodation is found to be inadequate then the UK Border Agency must either improve it or offer you and your family alternative accommodation.

Financial support

If you qualify for financial support, the UK Border Agency will make weekly payments for you and your family. The amount you receive may vary if you are married or in a long-term relationship. The amount of support provided will also be reduced if you are in accommodation that provides you with some or all of your meals.

The UK Border Agency must provide extra financial support if it believes that the essential living needs of your children are not being met. In exceptional circumstances, the Agency may also give you any other support that it considers necessary. So if you can't afford something but you feel it is essential for you or your family then you should approach the Scottish Refugee Council about making an application to the UK Border Agency.

If you are expecting to receive a payment from the UK Border Agency but it doesn't arrive, you should get in contact with your case owner straight away and explain your situation. You should also contact the Scottish Refugee Council, who may be able to offer you emergency financial support until the payment arrives.

Other costs

The UK Border Agency should pay back any reasonable expenses you have that you had to pay when you made your claim for asylum, such as sending a letter or making a phone call to the Agency. It will not, however, cover the following costs:

  • cost of sending or receiving faxes
  • computers and the cost of computer facilities
  • cost of photocopying
  • travel expenses, other than travelling to accommodation provided by the Agency
  • toys or recreational items
  • entertainment expenses.

Will I get any extra support or help?

In Scotland, most people seeking asylum will be allocated accommodation in the Glasgow area. As well as this, Glasgow City Council has entered into a contract with the UK Border Agency to provide all asylum seekers in the Glasgow area with certain services to help you settle in.  Glasgow City Council has a duty to provide these services to you even if it is not your housing provider. It will provide:

  • interpreting and translation services
  • advice and information
  • inspection and complaints resolution (including a published complaints procedure)
  • official mechanisms and procedure for dealing with complaints
  • racial harassment monitoring
  • assistance to help all asylum seekers access health care and education for children
  • assistance to help asylum seekers access relevant social work services.

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

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