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Longer term housing options

If the council doesn't have a duty to offer you a permanent home, you'll need to find your own accommodation. This page looks at how you can go about getting a council or housing association place or accommodation from a private landlord and how you can get help paying for this. It also considers other long term options.

Getting a permanent council or housing association place

Applying for council housing is not the same as applying to the council as homeless.

How do I apply?

In most areas, offers of permanent council and housing association tenancies are made through waiting lists (sometimes known as housing registers). To get onto each waiting list, you need to fill in a form, which is available from the council housing department or housing association. In some areas there may be a central waiting list (or common housing register) covering both council and housing association tenancies.

Whether you will get a council or housing association property depends on your circumstances and the amount of accommodation available. Unfortunately, waiting lists are usually long, and in areas with housing shortages you may have little hope of getting a council or housing association tenancy.

When should I apply?

When you apply to the council as homeless, it's a good idea to put your name on the council housing waiting list at the same time. You will need to make a separate application to do this. Make sure the person you speak to understands that you need help because you are homeless but that you want to go on the waiting list as well. The fact that you are homeless will give you extra priority on the waiting list but in areas where there is a housing shortage, you may still have to wait a very long time.

What if I can't apply?

If you are told you can't put your name on the waiting list, or if you're in any doubt about your situation, get advice from your local Shelter Scotland advice centre, Citizens Advice or other local advice agency. These agencies can also help you check that your priority on the housing register has been calculated correctly. 

Find out more about getting accommodation from the council.

Private rented accommodation

Private rented accommodation varies widely. In some areas it is cheap and plentiful but in other areas it can be expensive and hard to obtain.

Finding private rented accommodation

Private rented accommodation is usually advertised in local papers, shop windows or through agencies. It is sometimes possible to find and move into a private rented place quite quickly. However, you often need a deposit and pay rent in advance. If you find a place through a letting agency, you may have to pay agency fees as well.

Help with rent

Rents can be expensive in some areas. If you are on benefits or a low income, you may be able to claim local housing allowance to help pay your rent.

In addition, you may be able to apply to the DWP social fund for a budgeting loan, crisis loan or community care grant to cover rent in advance, but loans are not available for deposits or agency fees. Whether you get a loan or not depends on your circumstances and how much money the DWP has in its budget, and you will have to pay the loan back.

Help with deposits

In some areas there are rent deposit schemes, which help with the deposit and rent in advance. 

Other long term options

You may want to consider other accommodation options such as:

The section on finding accommodation has further suggestions.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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