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Making a homeless application with the council

Make a homeless application by contacting your council’s homeless team. They must give you temporary accommodation if you need it.

The council cannot refuse a homeless application if they have reason to believe:

  • you’re homeless

  • you’re likely to become homeless in the next 2 months

The council will interview you and look into your situation to decide if you'll be offered longer term help.

Only 1 person needs to make the application for your household.

Contact the council's homeless team

When to make a homeless application

You can make a homeless application if you're homeless or at risk of becoming homeless soon.

You do not have to be on the streets to be homeless. You're legally homeless if you do not have a safe and secure home.

It's best to get in touch with the council's homeless team during office hours. You can contact them out of hours if you need to.

Where to make a homeless application

You can make a homeless application at any council in Scotland.

The council should not tell you to apply elsewhere, even if you do not have a local connection to the area. Check our advice on local connection.

The council has a legal duty to offer you temporary accommodation while they look into your situation.

Check our advice if the council refuses to help you.

Interview with a homeless officer

After you contact the council, they'll arrange an interview with a homeless officer.

The interview usually happens at a council office. The homeless officer may visit you where you're staying if you cannot travel to their office.

If you have nowhere to stay you should be interviewed on the day you make your application.

Questions the council will ask

The homeless officer will ask you questions about your situation. The interview should be conducted in private.

They will ask you about:

  • where you’ve been living

  • why you left or will have to leave

  • whether you can return there

  • whether you can stay somewhere short-term, such as with relatives

  • your income and benefits

  • any problems you've had with violence, domestic abuse, or harassment

  • anyone who currently lives with you

  • anyone who would live with you if they could, such as extended family and children you treat as your own

  • any disabilities or health conditions you or anyone in your household has, including mental health issues, addictions or dependencies and pregnancy

What to bring to the interview

Take any of these documents that are relevant to you:

  • IDs for everyone in your household

  • proof of any benefits or income you get

  • bills with your name and address

  • tenancy agreement

  • eviction notices you've been sent

  • letters about eviction from the tribunal or court

  • letters from the person who has asked you to leave

  • letters from a doctor or social worker about disabilities, health issues or support needs

  • proof of pregnancy

  • crime numbers or copies of police reports

  • written discharge from the armed forces

  • bail conditions not to return

Tell the homeless officer if you need more time to gather any relevant documents.

Your rights for the interview

You can ask to:

  • be interviewed in private

  • be interviewed by a man or a woman

  • take a friend, adviser or support worker with you

  • have an interpreter if English is not your first language

  • have a British Sign Language interpreter

What happens next

The council will send you a decision letter explaining if they will give you longer term help.

The council should usually decide within 28 days of your homeless application, but it can sometimes take longer.

If they give you an unintentionally homeless decision, they must offer you a suitable permanent home when one becomes available.

Check our advice on getting your homeless decision letter.

If you're having problems with a homeless application

If you're refused help or told you cannot get temporary accommodation, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser.

An adviser can tell you what your rights are and give you advice on what to do next.

Last updated: 27 March 2024

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England