Emergency and temporary accommodation
If you have nowhere to stay when you make a homeless application, the council should offer you somewhere while it assesses what help you’re entitled to.
You should be entitled to temporary accommodation if:
you make a homeless application, and
the council believes you may be homeless and eligible for assistance, and
you have nowhere suitable to stay
To begin the process, contact the council’s homelessness department and tell them you need to make a homeless application.Apply to the council as homeless
What is temporary accommodation?
Temporary housing can be:
housing association flats
hostels, bed and breakfasts, or hotels (in an emergency or as a last resort)
If you are a single homeless person and agree to it, you can also be housed in:
rapid access accommodation for rough sleepers or those at risk of rough sleeping. It must be of a good standard, have a lockable bedroom, and offer specialist support services
a shared tenancy with no more than five people. It must be of a good standard and have a lockable bedroom
community hosted accommodation in a member of the community’s home
In all types of temporary accommodation, you may have to share facilities such as a living room or kitchen with other people.
You might be placed in a bed and breakfast or hostel while the council finds somewhere more suitable for you.
In some bed and breakfasts, there are no kitchen facilities for residents to cook their own meals. If you’re placed in an emergency hostel, you may have to share a bedroom.
You should not be placed in a bed and breakfast or hostel unless:
you are homeless because of an emergency, such as a flood or fire
the council have no other suitable temporary accommodation available
you make your homeless application outwith normal office hours
If you need it, you may be offered temporary accommodation with specialist support. For example:
if you are homeless with drug or alcohol dependencies
if you became homeless because of domestic abuse
Unsuitable temporary accommodation
Emergency, supported, and temporary accommodation must all meet basic needs. In all circumstances, it should:
not be overcrowded
be wind and watertight
meet the needs that you or your family have, including health and disability needs
not be a danger to your health, have adequate fire safety provisions and not need major repair work
As well as meeting basic needs, the council also has to provide accommodation that meets certain additional standards. It should:
have an adequate and accessible private bathroom
have adequate bedrooms for the size of your household
have adequate and accessible cooking facilities and the use of a living room (although these may be shared)
be suitable for children of people who have parental rights to visit
be usable 24 hours a day
These additional standards do not apply to rapid access, shared tenancy or community hosting accommodation.
Temporary accommodation should also be reasonably accessible to your household’s workplaces, schools, and health and support services.
Pregnant or homeless with children
If you are pregnant or homeless with children, you should not have to stay in unsuitable accommodation for more than seven days. This includes hostels and bed and breakfasts.
Coronavirus exemptions for everyone else
Currently, councils can provide unsuitable accommodation for more than seven days if the household does not include a child or pregnant person. This includes hostels and bed and breakfasts.
This is only if the council cannot provide suitable accommodation because the pandemic has affected the supply of accommodation available.
The exemptions are in place until 30 September 2021.
If you’re not sure why you’re in unsuitable accommodation, get in touch with your homelessness officer. If they don’t help, contact an adviser.
Changes of circumstance
If things change for your household, your temporary accommodation may become unsuitable. For example:
if you become pregnant or have a baby
if someone in the household becomes ill or their physical or mental health needs change
if there’s a change in the number of people in your household
How to report unsuitable accommodation
Speak to your homelessness officer if you think your temporary accommodation is unsuitable.
It may be better to accept an unsuitable offer before asking the council to reconsider and provide you with suitable accommodation. This is so you have somewhere to stay while the council reconsiders its decision.
If the council doesn't help, speak to an adviser as soon as possible. There is a three-month deadline to legally challenge the suitability of temporary accommodation.
You should still speak to an adviser if you have been in unsuitable temporary accommodation for longer than three months. You may still be able to challenge the council.
How long will I be in temporary accommodation?
The council aims to decide whether you are eligible for permanent accommodation after 28 days. You should be offered temporary accommodation while you wait for the council's decision letter.
If you are going to be offered permanent accommodation, you can stay in your temporary accommodation until a permanent home becomes available. This may take some time.
If you are not going to be offered permanent accommodation, in most cases you should be allowed to stay in temporary accommodation a while longer. This is to give you a chance to find somewhere to stay. The council should give you advice on housing options.
Paying for temporary accommodation
The council must take into account your financial situation when working out what rent to charge you.
In most circumstances, you will have to pay rent and any extra charges for meals or cleaning services.
If you are on benefits or a low income, you may be entitled to housing benefit, although this may not cover everything. You can apply for discretionary housing payment to help cover any shortfall.
Check if you're entitled to benefits
Turn to Us has an online benefit calculator. You can use this to check if you are entitled to any extra money. It can be useful to have information with you about any money you have coming into your household already and what your monthly rent payments are before you use this tool.
Eviction from temporary accommodation
If the council wishes you to leave your temporary accommodation, you should be given at least four weeks' notice in writing.
You may be evicted from temporary accommodation because:
you've broken a condition of your tenancy agreement
the council no longer has a duty to help you
the council has found you a permanent home
When to get help from Shelter Scotland
You should contact an adviser if:
you have been offered rapid access, shared tenancy, or community hosted
accommodation and you don’t want to accept it
the council charge you rent that you can’t afford
you have reported unsuitable temporary accommodation and the council won’t help
you’re asked to leave temporary accommodation and you have nowhere else to go
Last updated: 1 June 2021