Skip to main content

Overview of council inquiries and responsibilities

If you apply to the council as homeless, the council has a responsibility to make inquiries into your situation to see whether you pass certain 'tests'. This will determine what kind of help the council can give you. This page gives an overview of the inquiry process.

What does the council have to investigate?

In order to work out what help it has to give you, the council will have to look into your personal situation in detail. The council first has to check whether you are:

If the council believes that you meet these criteria, it has a responsibility to offer somewhere temporary for you to stay from the date you make your application until it has finished making inquiries into your situation.

It has to check whether you:

It's important that the council carries out these inquiries in order. For example, it cannot decide that you have no local connection to the area before first deciding whether you became homeless intentionally.

What information will the council look at?

The council will look at the information you provided when you made your application, and at any documents you bring with you. You can download a checklist of things to take with you to your homeless interview

The council may also contact people and organisations that know about your housing situation to find out more about your circumstances. This might include:

  • your previous landlord or mortgage lender
  • your doctor
  • any agencies that have provided support for you in the past, for example, social work.

If there are people you do not want the council to contact, because for example, you have been experiencing violence or threats from them, you should say so at your interview.

The homelessness officer may also need to visit your current accommodation to see whether it is reasonable for you to stay there.

How long will it take?

There is no time limit for how long it may take the council to do this, but councils aim to have completed their inquiries within 28 days. It may take longer if your case is complicated.

Remember, it is the council's responsibility to provide temporary accommodation from the date you apply until it finishes its inquiries if it believes that you may be:

  • homeless, and
  • eligible for assistance.

If the council refuses to provide accommodation while it makes its inquiries and you have nowhere to stay, get advice immediately. You can call the Shelter Scotland free housing advice helpline 0808 800 4444. Or you can use the Advice Services Directory to find advice locally, including Citizens Advice or other advice agencies in your area.

What help will I get?

The pages in this section outlining the three homelessness tests explain in detail what happens when you 'pass' or 'fail' each test. The council must give you advice about your housing situation if:

  • you are not homeless
  • you are not threatened with homelessness.

The council must give you advice and help in finding a new home, and let you stay on in temporary accommodation to give you an opportunity to find a new home if:

  • you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, but
  • you became homeless intentionally.

The council may refer you to another council to be housed if:

  • you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and
  • you are not intentionally homeless, but
  • you have no local connection to the council's area.

The council should offer you a permanent home if:

  • you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and
  • you are not intentionally homeless, and
  • you have a local connection to the area.

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?

I need help

The important points

  • The council will look at three main things, are you homeless, did you make yourself homeless and do you have a local connection.
  • If you don't want the council to contact certain people for example an ex partner then let them know.  
  • Councils aim to make a decision on your case within 28 days.

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