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What to do if you're being made homeless

There are steps you can take if you’re at risk of losing your home. If you cannot stay there, the council must help you.

You can get homeless help from the council 24 hours a day. The council must give you somewhere to stay as soon as you need it.

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

Check if you can stay in your home

The steps you can take depend on your situation. In some cases, you might be able to stay in your home.

If you’re being evicted from a private or social tenancy

You do not have to leave when your landlord gives you an eviction notice. They must get an eviction order from a tribunal or court.

You can challenge the eviction if you want to stay, or if you need more time.

Check our advice on:

If your landlord gets an eviction order from the tribunal or court, the council must help you. Show them any letters from the tribunal or court.

If your home is being repossessed by your mortgage lender

There’s a strict process your lender must follow. They should try to help you before starting court action. You can negotiate with your lender at every stage and make a repayment plan to keep your home.

Check our advice on mortgage repossession

If you’re being made homeless by a partner or ex-partner

Depending on your situation, you might have a right to stay in your home. Check our advice on staying in your home after breaking up.

You could get homeless help if it’s not reasonable for you to stay in your home because of relationship breakdown.

If you’re fleeing domestic abuse, you’ll be legally homeless, and the council must give you emergency accommodation as soon as you need it. Check our advice if you're homeless because of domestic abuse.

If you’re staying somewhere temporary

You'll be legally homeless if you do not have a legal right to stay in your home. For example, if you're:

  • staying with family or friends

  • staying in a hotel, hostel, B&B or holiday let

You can make a homeless application at any time, even if you want to keep staying there for a while.

If you need to leave your home for another reason

You could be legally homeless if your home is not reasonable to live in. For example, if:

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

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

  • you’re being threatened or harassed by neighbours

If your home is unaffordable, get money and debt advice as soon as possible.

If you're having problems with neighbours, check our advice on dealing with antisocial behaviour.

It can be risky to give up your home in these situations, because the council might say you’re not entitled to homeless help.

You could make a homeless application and wait for a decision before giving up your home.

This could mean you have to pay for both your own home and temporary accommodation while you’re waiting.

Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser for help understanding your rights and options.

Getting homeless help

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

The council must take your homeless application if they have reason to think:

  • you're legally homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

  • you meet the immigration conditions

They must offer you temporary accommodation while they look into your situation.

After looking into your situation, the council must send you a decision in writing. The decision tells you if you’ll be offered a permanent home.

Check our advice on homeless decisions the council can make.

If you’re entitled to a permanent home

There’s no time limit for how long it takes to get offered a permanent home. You can stay in the council’s temporary accommodation while you wait.

You do not have to go into temporary accommodation while you wait for a permanent home. You can choose to stay somewhere else, like with friends or family. Keep in contact with your homeless officer so they know where you're staying.

You can also keep looking into other housing options. For example, you could apply directly to housing associations in different areas. In some cases, this could be quicker than waiting for the council’s offer.

If you find your own tenancy, the council will close your homeless application and will not have to offer you a home.

The council will usually only make one offer of permanent accommodation. They must offer you a home that’s suitable for your needs.

Check our advice on getting permanent accommodation.

Check your other housing options

You could try:

You can ask the council for help finding a home, even if you’re not legally homeless. They must give you advice and assistance if you’re at risk of becoming homeless soon.

This could include giving you contact details for local housing associations and letting agents, or giving you information about waiting times in different areas.

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