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Homeless decisions the council can make

Intentionally or unintentionally homeless

The council can check the reasons why you became homeless. They can decide you're:

  • unintentionally homeless – you'll be offered a permanent home

  • intentionally homeless – you will not be offered a permanent home, but the council must give you advice and practical help

You can appeal an intentionally homeless decision within 21 days.

When the council must offer you a permanent home

You're entitled to a permanent home if you became homeless for reasons out of your control. This is called being unintentionally homeless.

You could be unintentionally homeless if you:

  • had to leave your home because of abuse or harassment, including domestic abuse

  • were evicted through no fault of your own

  • were forced to leave by family you lived with

  • could not afford to pay your rent or mortgage without going into significant debt

  • did not know that your partner or a joint tenant had stopped paying rent

  • did not know you had the right to stay in your home

If you’re unintentionally homeless, the council must offer you a permanent home. Check our advice on getting an offer of permanent accommodation.

What intentionally homeless means

Intentionally homeless means you deliberately did something, or failed to do something, that led to you losing your home.

This only applies if it would have been reasonable for you to keep living there. You should never be found intentionally homeless if you had to leave because of domestic abuse.

You could be found intentionally homeless if you:

  • voluntarily gave up a home that you could have stayed in

  • were evicted for something you did deliberately

  • ignored advice that could have helped you keep your home

The council will not always check if you’re intentionally homeless. They can decide to offer you a permanent home without looking into the reasons you became homeless.

If you need to leave your home but you’re worried about being found intentionally homeless, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser. They can help you work out your options.

How the council can check if you’re intentionally homeless

The council should consider all of the circumstances that led to you becoming homeless. They might contact your previous landlord or neighbours for information.

If you’ve been living somewhere temporarily, like a hostel or with friends, the council can look at why you had to leave your last settled home. A settled home can be:

  • a private or social tenancy

  • a home you own

  • your parents’ or family home, if you’ve always lived there

The council should not stop you from making a homeless application if they think you’re intentionally homeless. They must offer you temporary accommodation while they look into your situation.

Appealing an intentionally homeless decision

You can appeal the decision by asking for a review. You must do this within 21 days of the decision.

Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser before asking for a review. They can work out if you have a strong case and help you get the right evidence.

How the council must help if you’re intentionally homeless

The council can only ask you to leave your temporary accommodation after:

  • giving you advice and practical help with your housing situation

  • waiting for the outcome of an appeal if you’ve asked for one

  • giving you a reasonable amount of time to find a home

The council must give you advice on your housing options, including:

This should include information about specific options and waiting times in your local area.

They should also offer you other help relevant to your situation. For example, advice about money and benefits or local services that could help you. Ask the council to refer you to support services if you need them.

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