Homeless, sofa surfing, or nowhere safe to stay

You don't have to be living on the street to be homeless. You might be sleeping on a friend's sofa, staying in a hostel, or living somewhere unsafe.

Get help if you have nowhere to stay

  • Contact the council 24 hours a day if you have nowhere safe to stay

  • If you need it, you'll get temporary accommodation while they look into your situation

  • The council must help if you're homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months

Get emergency help from the council

How to make a homeless application

Contact the council’s homeless department and tell them you need to make a homeless application. You’ll then be offered an interview with a homelessness officer.

Temporary and emergency accommodation

If you make a homelessness application and have nowhere safe to stay, the council must offer you temporary accommodation while it looks into your situation.

The council's assessment and decision

The council must make inquiries into your situation. This will determine what kind of help they can give you. If you meet the criteria you should be offered permanent accommodation.

Challenging a council's homelessness decision

If you disagree with a council's decision on your homeless application, it may be possible to get it overturned.

Permanent accommodation

If you meet the council's homelessness criteria, you should be offered a permanent home. Find out what this means and what to do if you're not happy with the offer.

Claiming benefits, working, and your rights while homeless

People who are homeless or have no fixed address are entitled to claim benefits, work, receive healthcare and vote.

Storing your belongings and pet care

In some situations, the council has a duty to look after and store your personal belongings. You may also get help with your pets if you become homeless.

Homeless support services in Scotland

Find organisations that offer help, advice or support for homeless people in Edinburgh, Glasgow and most other parts of Scotland.

Who can't apply as homeless

The council has to accept an application from anyone who appears to be homeless or is likely to become homeless within two months. However, there are some immigration exemptions.

Housing advice services

Access help and legal advice if you are worried about housing or homelessness and live in Scotland.

Advice for street homelessness

Sleeping on the streets should only ever be a last resort. Get practical advice on how to stay safe and healthy if you have no choice but to sleep rough.

Moving off the streets

There are options available if you’re sleeping on the streets. The council has a legal duty to help most homeless people find somewhere to live. Charities can find you a safe place to sleep too.

Last updated: 9 June 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England