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Storing your belongings and pet care when you’re homeless

If you’re homeless and unable to protect your belongings, the council must arrange storage. They may charge you for this.

In some cases the council might help with pet care.

When the council must help you protect your belongings

The council have a duty to prevent the loss or damage of your belongings if:

  • you’re unable to arrange storage yourself

  • there’s a danger of loss or damage to them

  • no other arrangements have been made to protect them

Mention your belongings during your homeless interview.

They may charge you for storage. Charges should be reasonable and based on what you can afford. They should tell you in advance how much you'll be charged.

The council may help you collect your belongings if you do not have access to them, or if it's not safe for you to get them. For example, if you've been illegally evicted or you're fleeing abuse.

What belongings the council will store

The council will put moveable property into storage. That includes furniture, kitchenware, electronics and clothing.

They will not move or store fixed furnishings such as built-in cabinets, or work equipment.

How long the council will look after your belongings

The council must protect your belongings until you're able to look after them yourself.

Their duty to protect your belongings will usually end when either:

  • you get a permanent home

  • they make a decision on your homeless application which means they have no further duty to help you

  • they believe there is no longer a danger of damage or loss to your property

The council must inform you in writing when they no longer have a duty to protect your belongings. They should give you enough time to make your own arrangements.

If you've been offered a permanent home, the council may help with the delivery of your belongings.

When the council can get rid of your belongings

The council may get rid of your belongings if:

  • 6 months have passed since their duty to protect your belongings ended

  • they lose contact with you for 6 months

They have to follow specific procedures in order to do this. They should:

  • tell you when their duty to look after your belongings has ended, and include reasons why

  • tell you in advance the circumstances in which they will get rid of your property

  • make efforts to get in contact with you

If they do not, you can make a complaint. Check our advice on making a complaint about the council.

Paying for storage

If you're on a low income or benefits, the council may agree to store your belongings for free. Otherwise, they will usually charge you for the cost of storage.

It may be cheaper and more practical to arrange removals and storage yourself. You can search online for local removal and storage services in your area.

If you have problems with storing your belongings

The council has a legal duty to help arrange storage of your belongings if you cannot look after them.

Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser if the council:

  • refuses to help store your belongings

  • charges you for storage without telling you in advance

  • fails to take proper care of your belongings

  • gets rid of your belongings without following the right process

Being made homeless with pets

The council should try to find suitable accommodation for you and your pets, but there is no legal duty to do this.

If you cannot keep pets in your temporary accommodation, you can ask the council for help. They may help to arrange a kennel for them.

If the council will not help, you should arrange kennelling yourself. If you cannot afford to do so, contact the Pet Fostering Service Scotland.

Pet fostering means someone looks after your pet temporarily until you can take them back.

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