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Contacting the council

If you have nowhere to stay or you are worried about having to leave your home you can ask the council for help by making a homeless application. This page tells you how to contact the council in order to make an application as well as providing links to homeless contact numbers for various councils in Scotland. 

Can anyone apply?

The council has to accept an application from anyone who says they are homeless. However, some people (for example, asylum seekers) are not eligible for help.

Which council should I apply to?

You should normally apply to your local council, but you don't have to. For example you may want to move to another area:

  • to flee violence or abuse
  • to be closer to relatives
  • to be closer to your work.

If you are a UK resident, any council you apply to has to accept your homeless application, no matter which area of the country you come from. Each UK country has different laws governing homeless applications, so if you want to apply to a council outside Scotland, go to the Shelter England and Housing Advice Northern Ireland websites to find out more.

If you have nowhere to stay when you make your application, the council should offer you somewhere to stay (known as temporary accommodation) while it processes your application.

Only once the council has processed your application can they look at whether you have any connection with the area you have applied to. Bear in mind that if you don't have a connection to the area, the council may refer your application to another council.

If you are thinking of applying to an area with which you have very few connections, you could discuss this with a local advice agency. An adviser can help you consider the advantages and disadvantages of applying there. If you don't have a connection to any area, an adviser can use their local knowledge to suggest the best council to apply to.

Which council office should I apply to?

Your council may have a homelessness team that processes all homeless applications, or the local housing offices may accept them. You can find out where to make your homeless application by phoning your council or looking on their website.

What if I become homeless outside normal office hours?

Councils usually operate an out of hours service that you can contact, check your council's website to find their out of hours service.

Do I have to apply in person?

If possible, apply to the council in person. This will give you the chance to tell the homelessness officer about your circumstances and for them to ask you questions so that they get a proper picture of your situation and can discuss your options with you.

The council should accept an application by phone or in writing too, but this may slow the process down.

Who makes the application?

It's only necessary for one person to make an application on behalf of the whole household. Your household consists of:

  • anyone who currently lives with you, and
  • anyone who could be expected to live with you if you had accommodation where you could all live together.

This could include:

  • your husband/wife or civil partner
  • an opposite-sex or same-sex partner
  • parents
  • grandparents
  • children (including foster children, step children, and other children you treat as your own)
  • grandchildren
  • nephews and nieces
  • brothers and sisters
  • aunts and uncles
  • any of the above who are related to your spouse or partner
  • anyone else who could be expected to live with you, for example a carer or companion.

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

Are you homeless or at risk of becoming homeless?

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The important points

  • If you are homeless contact your council - they must look at your situation.
  • If you are homeless out of hours you should still be able to make an application.
  • Only one person needs to make the application per household.   

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