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Why are you looking for accommodation?

There are lots of reasons why you may be looking for a new home. If you are moving because of problems with your current accommodation, you may be able to put these problems right, so you don't have to leave at all. If you currently have no home, or if your home is not suitable for you to live in, you may be legally homeless, in which case you can get help from your local council.

I'm being evicted

If you are looking for a new home because your landlord is in the process of evicting you, it's not too late to do something about it. For example, if your landlord is not following the correct legal procedure, you may be able to stop the eviction. If you are being evicted due to rent arrears, you may be able to make an arrangement with your landlord to pay off the money you owe.

Find out more about preventing eviction.

My home is being repossessed

If your mortgage lender is taking steps to repossess your home, it's important to take action as soon as possible. You may be able to delay or even prevent the repossession.

My parents want me to leave

If you're not getting on with your parents or other family members, you may be able to get help from a mediation service. A mediator can help you talk through your problems together and reach a satisfactory conclusion. The page on running away has more advice on what you can do if you're in this situation.

My partner wants me to leave

Many people become homeless due to relationship breakdown. However, your partner may not necessarily have the right to make you leave your home. If you have already left, you may be able to return if you still have rights to live there.

The section on relationship breakdown explains your rights, and also includes information on relationship counselling and mediation.

My current home is too small

If there are too many people living in your home, it may be legally overcrowded, and you may be entitled to housing help from the council (see 'Am I homeless' below). However, the definition of overcrowding is very strict.

If you rent from the council or a housing association, you may be able to get a transfer to a larger house. Or you may be able to rent more suitable property from a private landlord. Make sure you end your current tenancy properly first, however.

You may also be able to buy your own home - if you're not sure whether you can afford it, read our pages on working out your finances, problems getting a mortgage.

My home is not suitable

If you're finding it difficult to manage in your home because the layout is presenting you with obstacles, such as stairs or difficulties using the bathroom, it may be possible for you to get adaptations carried out to make it more suitable for you. Your local social work department can carry out a community care assessment to establish what adaptations are required and if you will be entitled to any financial assistance. The page on getting adaptations done has more information about this, and also explains your options if it isn't possible to adapt your home satisfactorily.

I need support to stay in my home

If you need help with daily tasks such as washing, cooking and cleaning, social work may have a legal responsibility to provide home care for you. If you are an older person, are disabled or have mental health issues, you should contact your local social work department and ask them to carry out a community care assessment.

You could also consider moving into supported accommodation.

My home is in a bad state of repair

If you think your home is unsuitable because it needs repair work carried out, there may be action you can take to get the repairs done. Council, housing association and private landlords must keep properties in good repair, and tenants can take action against their landlord to make them carry out repairs.

If you own your home, you may be able to apply to the council for a grant to carry out essential repairs and improvements.

I'm at risk of violence or abuse

If you are experiencing violence, threats, abuse or controlling behaviour from someone you live with or used to live with, you may not necessarily have to leave your home. You may be able to take action to exclude the violent person from your home and keep them away from you.

If the problems are caused by someone living in your area whom you have no relationship with (such as a neighbour), talk to an adviser at Citizens Advice or other advice agency. If you are being harassed there are a number of different ways you may be able to solve the problem.

If the violent person lives in rented accommodation, you could consider informing their landlord, who may decide to take action against them.

Most private landlords can evict any tenant who is violent or abusive, but they will need a court order to do this. Councils and housing associations can also stop antisocial behaviour by their tenants. In serious cases they can evict the person responsible, but they will need a court order to do this.

If you're not sure who the person's landlord is, you can make inquiries at the council housing department, or ask other neighbours if they know.

If the violent person is a home owner, you may be able to take legal action against them yourself, but this is complicated and can be expensive, so get advice first. The council can also take action against home owners.

Read the section on antisocial behaviour to find out what you can do if you are in this situation.

Remember, you should call the police if you are in immediate danger.

If the harassment is of a racist or sexual nature, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) may be able to help you - read the section on discrimination and harassment to find out more.

Am I homeless?

If you find yourself in any of the situations described on this page, you may be legally homeless. You may think that as long as you have somewhere to stay, you can't be homeless. However, the legal definition of homelessness covers many different circumstances. You may be legally homeless if you are looking for a new home because:

  • you have no home where you and your family can live together, or
  • you have no rights to live in the place you are currently staying, or
  • the place where you are currently living is unsuitable or unsafe.

So, for example, you may be homeless if:

  • an elderly relative needs to move in with you but there is no room for them, or your home isn't adapted suitably for their needs
  • you are sleeping on a friend's sofa
  • you are staying in a hostel, refuge, bed and breakfast or other accommodation that isn't designed to be permanent.

This means that even if you have got somewhere to stay, you may still be legally homeless. If you're not sure if your situation means you are homeless, get advice from a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice or the council - an adviser will be able to tell you if you are legally homeless. 

Am I threatened with homelessness?

You can also get help from the council if you are likely to become homeless within two months, for example, if your landlord is evicting you and you have to leave within two months.

Getting help from the council

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, you can make a homeless application to your local council. The council will look into your situation and will offer you either:

  • advice and help to find a new place to live
  • somewhere to stay until you find a new place to live
  • a permanent home.

Go to the section on homelessness to find out more about:

  • how to make an application to the council
  • what inquiries the council needs to make
  • what help the council can give you
  • what to do if the council won't help you.

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

The important points

  • Before moving, find out if there is anyway to stay in your current accommodation.
  • If you need help with daily tasks such as washing, cooking and cleaning, social work should help you.
  • If your rented home is in a poor state of repair, check what standards your landlord needs to meet for your accommodation.
  • Even if you have somewhere to stay, you can still be homeless, contact your council for help and advice.

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