A Guide to Homelessness

Accommodation when you're homeless

If you have nowhere to stay, the council should offer you temporary accommodation.

Temporary accommodation

You should be offered temporary accommodation if:

  • you make a homeless application to the council, and

  • the council believes you are homeless and eligible for assistance, and

  • you have nowhere to stay.

Temporary accommodation once a decision is made

Whether you can stay in temporary accommodation will depend on what decision the council has made.

  • You are intentionally homeless - You should be allowed to continue to stay in your temporary accommodation long enough to give you a reasonable opportunity to find somewhere to stay.

  • You don’t have a local connection – The council will have to refer you to another council where you do have a local connection and you can stay in your temporary accommodation until the new council can move you to its own temporary accommodation.

  • You are entitled to permanent accommodation – You can remain in temporary accommodation until a suitable offer is made.

What will the accommodation be like?

The council could offer you temporary accommodation in a:

  • flat

  • house

  • bedsit

  • hostel

  • bed and breakfast

Bed and breakfasts or hostels are only to be used in an emergency. If you are offered this you should not have to stay there longer than 7 days.

The accommodation has to meet certain standards and should:

  • not be overcrowded

  • be wind and watertight

  • be in a state of good repair

  • meet the needs of you or your family

Get in touch with your homelessness officer if:

  • the temporary accommodation that you are in is not suitable for you or your families needs

  • you have been in a bed and breakfast or hostel for more than 7 days

If they don’t help, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Permanent accommodation

Only certain types of accommodation count as 'permanent'. These are usually:

  • council tenancies

  • housing association tenancies

Permanent accommodation must:

  • not be overcrowded

  • not be a danger to your health (for example, too cold or damp)

  • meet any special needs you or your family may have (for example, it may need to be wheelchair accessible)

  • be reasonable for you to live in (for example, it shouldn't be in an area where you are at risk of violence).

You should consider any offer you receive carefully. If you are not happy with the offer or are unsure of your rights, get advice immediately. You may be offered a choice of more than one home, but this is not guaranteed.

If you need help contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

Last updated: 29 September 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England

Get homeless help from the council

The council must help if you are homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months.

Get emergency help from the council