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Check if you’re legally homeless

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.

You can apply as homeless to any council in Scotland. The council must help you if they have reason to believe you're legally homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless soon.

If you're not from the UK or Ireland, your right to homeless help depends on your immigration status.

When you’re legally homeless

You’re legally homeless if any of the following apply to you:

  • you have nowhere to stay

  • you're staying somewhere your family cannot live with you

  • you’re staying somewhere temporary, like a hotel or a friend’s house, with no legal right to live there

You could also be legally homeless if you have accommodation, but it’s not reasonable for you to keep living there. For example, if:

  • you’re experiencing domestic abuse in your home

  • you’re experiencing violence or harassment in your home, including from neighbours

  • your home has serious repair problems that are a risk to your health or safety

  • your home is overcrowded and it’s affecting your mental or physical health

  • you’re disabled and the home does not meet your needs

  • you can no longer afford your home without going into significant debt

  • you have a mobile home or houseboat but nowhere to legally park it

When you make a homeless application, the council should offer you temporary accommodation while they look into your situation.

Intentionally or unintentionally homeless

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

  • unintentionally homeless, if you became homeless for reasons out of your control

  • intentionally homeless, if you you deliberately did something that made you homeless

If the council thinks you're intentionally homeless, they might not have to offer you a permanent home.

Check our advice if the council says you're intentionally homeless.

When you might not be legally homeless

The council might say you’re not homeless if they believe you have a home you could live in. For example, if you have a tenancy somewhere else.

If the council believes you’re not homeless, they must tell you why in writing.

You can appeal the decision if you think it’s wrong. For example, if you cannot live in your home because of a relationship breakdown.

Check our advice on appealing a homeless decision.

When you’re threatened with homelessness

The council might say you’re threatened with homelessness if you currently have somewhere to live, but it’s likely you’ll become homeless soon.

For example, if you’ve been sent an eviction notice.

The council must give you advice and assistance to avoid becoming homeless. This could include helping you:

  • negotiate with your landlord to prevent eviction

  • negotiate with your mortgage provider to prevent repossession

  • get the right benefits and grants so you can afford your home

  • find a new place to live before you become homeless

  • make your home more suitable for you to live in, for example with repairs or adaptations

If you’re being evicted

You do not have to leave your home until your landlord gets an eviction order from the tribunal or court. You could stop or delay the eviction.

Check our advice on:

If your landlord has already got an eviction order, the council will usually accept that you're homeless. Show them any letters you’ve had from the tribunal or court.

If the council cannot help you keep your home

You can make a new homeless application if your circumstances change.

You should be offered temporary accommodation as soon as you need to leave your home.

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