Housing advice services

Find help and legal advice for housing and homelessness problems.

Get homeless help from the council

If you have nowhere safe to stay, make a homeless application to the council. You should be given accommodation on the day you need it.

They must help if you are homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months.

Apply to the council as homeless

Shelter Scotland's free housing advice

If you need advice and help in an emergency and you are not sure what to do, contact Shelter Scotland to talk to a housing adviser who can:

  • explain your rights

  • tell you your options

  • tell you what help is available in your area

  • help you to take action

Ongoing support

Ongoing housing support from Shelter Scotland can include:

  • appointment systems

  • drop-in sessions (where you turn up and wait to see an adviser)

  • telephone advice

  • home visits

  • sessions with specialist advisers who have expertise in a particular area

Law centres

Law centres provide independent legal advice services. They tend to cover a number of areas of advice, including housing and benefits, debt, discrimination and immigration law. They provide free legal advice and representation. As they employ solicitors, they can take action at every level of court.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice (CAB) offers free, confidential, impartial and independent advice on a number of issues, including housing and benefits. Find out more on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.

Council housing departments

Each council must provide advice and information about homelessness, and how to prevent it. The type of service will vary. Some councils have a separate housing advice service, while others give advice as part of their services for homeless people. The council may do this itself or ask another agency to do it on its behalf.

Advice from the council

The council should offer advice on:

  • the availability of housing from the council, housing associations or housing cooperatives, including information on application procedures and waiting lists

  • getting temporary accommodation from the council, a housing association, a private landlord or a voluntary agency

  • finding accommodation using an estate agent or letting agency

  • renting in the private sector

  • owning your own home

Other council services

  • Each council must operate a homelessness service for people who are homeless or who are about to be homeless.

  • All councils should operate a 24-hour service for people in emergency situations. Details of this service can be found on your council's website.

  • Many councils also employ tenancy relations officers to help any tenants who are experiencing harassment or are threatened with illegal eviction by their landlord

  • If you are having problems getting your landlord to carry out repairs or you have a noisy neighbour, the council's environmental health department has the power to take legal action on your behalf

Council housing

If you are applying to the council as homeless, it's a good idea to put your name on the council housing waiting list at the same time. You will need to make a separate application to do this.

Make sure the person you speak to understands that you need help because you are homeless but that you want to go on the waiting list as well. The fact that you are homeless will give you extra priority on the waiting list but in areas where there is a housing shortage, you may still have to wait a very long time.

Social work

The council's social work department has duties to assist some people in certain circumstances. This includes:

  • people under the age of 18 in need

  • people who have been looked after by the local authority

  • people who have children in need living with them

  • people who are elderly, physically ill or have mental health problems, or are disabled

Specialist agencies

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, organisations such as Scottish Women's Aid can offer help and advice in escaping your home and finding somewhere to stay.

The police

The police can offer help and advice if you are in danger or if you are facing harassment, domestic abuse or homophobic or racist abuse. You can contact the police on 101.

Last updated: 9 April 2018

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England