Making a homeless application with the council

To get help, contact any council’s homeless department.

They cannot refuse your application if you’re homeless or likely to become homeless in the next 2 months.

If you need somewhere temporary to stay, you should be given it straight away.

Only one person has to make the application on behalf of your entire household.

Get emergency help from the council

If you're refused help, contact Shelter Scotland.

The homelessness interview

After you make a homeless application, you will be interviewed by a homelessness officer.

If you have nowhere to stay, you should be interviewed on the day you make your application.

Interviews are usually held at the council offices. The homelessness officer might visit you at home if you cannot get to their offices.

You can ask for help if English is not your first language or if you have difficulty reading or writing.

What to take with you:

Take any of these documents that are relevant to you:

  • IDs for everyone in your household

  • benefit books and wage slips

  • bills with your name and address

  • child benefit book

  • proof of pregnancy

  • tenancy agreement

  • any notices that will end your current tenancy

  • court possession papers

  • a letter from the person who has asked you to leave

  • relevant crime numbers or copies of police reports

  • written discharge from the armed forces

  • bail conditions not to return

If you cannot get this information before your interview, the council should give you time to gather it.

You'll be asked about:

  • where you have been living

  • why you left or will have to leave

  • whether you can return there

  • whether you can stay somewhere short-term (such as with relatives)

  • your income and benefits

  • any problems you have had with violence, domestic abuse, or harassment

  • any health conditions you or anyone in your household has. This includes:

    • physical disabilities

    • mental illness

    • addictions or dependencies

    • old age

    • pregnancy

  • The people in your household. This includes:

    • anyone who currently lives with you

    • anyone who would live with you if they could (such as extended family and children you treat as your own)

You have the right to:

  • be interviewed in private

  • choose to be interviewed by a man or woman

  • take a friend or an adviser with you

  • have an interpreter if English isn’t your first language

  • have a trained sign language interpreter if you require one

If you find the interview upsetting or overwhelming, the homelessness officer can postpone the interview.

Explain your situation fully so that any accommodation you’re given:

  • is not overcrowded

  • is suitable for your job

  • meets any health needs you may have

  • is close to health services, family, schools etc.

What happens next

When to get help from Shelter Scotland

You should contact an adviser if you're:

  • refused help

  • told that you cannot get temporary accommodation

  • handed a list of hostels and told to find somewhere yourself

  • told that you cannot get help to store your belongings

Last updated: 6 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England