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Getting homeless help if you’ve experienced domestic abuse

The council must help you if you’ve had to leave your home because of domestic abuse.

You can go to any council in Scotland. They must give you emergency housing as soon as you need it.

Get support to leave

You can contact domestic abuse support services for advice and practical help.

They could help you make a plan to leave, or refer you to a domestic abuse refuge.

You could contact:

Call the police on 999 if you’re in immediate danger.

Get homeless help from the council

You can make a homeless application at any council in Scotland, at any time. You do not need to have a local connection to the area.

Find the council's homeless team

If you’re not a British or Irish citizen

Your housing rights depend on your immigration status. Check our advice on the immigration conditions for homeless help.

If you’re on a spouse or partner visa, you can apply for permission to claim benefits or get homeless help when you’ve experienced domestic abuse. Apply for the migrant victims of domestic abuse concession on GOV.UK.

You could contact Citizens Advice or an immigration adviser for help applying.

What happens when you make a homeless application

The council must give you somewhere safe to stay. This cannot be in an area near the abusive person. If you have children, you should be given accommodation where they can stay with you.

Check our advice on temporary accommodation.

The council will arrange to interview you about your situation. You have the right to:

  • bring a friend, family member or support worker to the interview

  • get an interpreter if you need one

  • be interviewed by a woman

The council cannot contact the abusive person, or make you report it to the police.

If the council refuses to help you

The council has legal duties to help.

They cannot:

  • tell you to go another council

  • say there’s no temporary accommodation for you

  • insist on proof from the police before they help you

  • make you stay near the abusive person

Tell the council your rights and get advice if they still will not help. Check our advice if the council refuses to help.

Getting permanent accommodation from the council

After you make a homeless application, the council will give you a written decision. This tells you if you’ll be offered a permanent home.

You should be offered a permanent home if you had to leave your home because of domestic abuse.

If you’re offered a home somewhere that you’d be unsafe, you can challenge this. Check our advice on getting permanent accommodation from the council.

If your homeless decision says you’re not homeless or you’re intentionally homeless, you can appeal this. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser as soon as possible for help.

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