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Council storage for your belongings and care for your pets

This page gives details of the duties that the council has to protect your personal belongings and furniture if you apply for help because you are homeless. It also explains what you can do about your pets and help you can get for your pets when you become homeless.

Can I take my things with me?

If you are homeless and offered temporary accommodation by the council while it looks into your situation, you may not be able to keep your furniture and belongings with you. This may be because the accommodation the council provides is already furnished, or is too small to store all your belongings. This means that in some situations, the council has a duty to look after and store your personal property for you.

What counts as property?

Property includes personal belongings, clothing and furniture. It does not include pets or equipment used for business purposes.

When does my property have to be protected?

The council has a duty to protect your property when it is:

  • at risk of damage or loss, and
  • you aren't able to arrange storage yourself, for example because you can't afford it, it would be dangerous for you to return to your home to collect your belongings, or you are ill.

This duty applies from the day you make your homeless application and it applies to your property and the property of anyone else in your household included in your application.

What happens to my property?

The council has to do their best to prevent loss or damage to your property. It can:

  • arrange removals
  • arrange storage
  • gain entry to a property to recover your belongings, for example if you have been illegally evicted or have fled abuse or harassment.

Most councils will charge for the protection of your property, although some will waive charges if you're on a low incomes or benefits.

If your council won't waive the charges, it may be cheaper and more practical for you to arrange removals and storage yourself if you are able to. You can ask family or friends, or find a local storage firm using the Yellow Pages.

When will the council stop storing my belongings?

The council no longer has a responsibility to protect your property when:

  • it considers there is no longer a danger of damage or loss to your property, or
  • you leave your temporary accommodation, or
  • it has made a decision about your application and has no further duty to help you
  • you have found a permanent home.

The council has to inform you in writing when it no longer has a duty to protect your property, and it must give you enough time to make alternative arrangements.

Even if the council has no further obligation to provide accommodation for you, it can choose to continue to protect your property until you move into a new home. If you have been offered permanent housing, the council may arrange to have your property delivered to your new home.

Will the council get rid of my belongings?

The council may be able to dispose of your property:

  • six months after the duty to protect your property ends and you haven't arranged to collect your belongings, or
  • the council loses touch with you.

It has to follow specific procedures in order to do this and if it doesn't, you may be able to take the council to court to get compensation. Get in touch with an adviser if this happens to you.

What about my pets?

If you have pets and you can't take them with you into temporary accommodation, ask the council if they can help you arrange to kennel them. The council has no specific legal duties towards pets but some councils may help you make arrangements if you ask. Otherwise, you'll need to try and get friends or family to look after your pets temporarily.

If you are in a crisis situation, for example if you are fleeing domestic abuse, but can't arrange or afford to pay for commercial kennelling, contact the Pet Fostering Service Scotland on 0844 811 9909, and they may be able to look after your pet for you.

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

  • If you are homeless the council may have a duty to provide storage for your belongings.
  • When this duty ends they must inform you in writing. 
  • They also must give you time to make other arrangements.  
  • There is no legal duty to house your pets, some councils might help you make arrangements.

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