If you present as homeless at any council, they must give you temporary accommodation while they look into your circumstances. You should never be told to apply elsewhere.
If the council believes you are homeless and eligible for help, they can then check if you have a 'local connection' to the area where you made your homeless application.
If they do not think you have a connection, they may refer you to an area where you do — provided you are not at risk there. If you do not want to be sent to another area, explain the reasons why when you make your homeless application.
If you do not have a local connection with any area at all, the council you originally applied to must help you.
What is a local connection?
When deciding whether you have a local connection with the area, the council has to look at whether you or anyone in your household:
has lived in the area (and for how long)
has family connections in the area
works in the area
has a connection with the area for another reason
You only need to fit into one category in order to have a local connection.
I live in the area
The council will usually accept that you have a local connection if you or anyone else in your household has lived in the area for a total of 6 months out of the last 12 months or three years out of the last five years.
You must have lived in the area by choice in order to have a local connection. For example, you may not have a local connection if you have only lived in an area because you were in prison.
If you have just been released from a long stay in a hospital in the area, you may be viewed as having a local connection there.
I have family in the area
Councils will usually accept that you have a local connection with an area if you have family who have lived in the area for at least 5 years. You do not have to be in contact with the family member for a local connection to exist.
If you have family in your chosen area, the council cannot refer you to another area because you have more family there.
The council should not refer you to another area where you have family connections if you do not want to be near them.
I work in the area
If you work in the area, you should be considered to have a local connection.
Employment can be part-time, and self-employed people can have a local connection if they mainly work in the council's area.
If your employment is only casual, it may not be enough to establish a local connection.
If you were stationed in the area when serving with the armed forces then you may have a local connection.
I have a connection for another reason
You may be able to show you have a local connection for other reasons. For example, you may need to live in an area to receive specialist health care.
The council’s decision
I have a local connection — what happens next?
If the council believes that you are unintentionally homeless with a local connection, they will send you a decision letter to tell you that you are entitled to permanent housing.
You may have to wait in temporary accommodation until a suitable permanent offer is made. There is no time limit for how long this might take.
I do not have a local connection — what happens next?
The council may be willing to permanently house you even if you do not have a local connection.
If they are not willing to house you, they must let you know in writing. The decision letter should explain:
that the council has decided that you do not have a local connection
why it came to this decision
that you have 21 days to ask for a review of this decision
Being referred to another council
If you do not have a local connection and are not being permanently housed, the council has to look into whether you have a connection with another council's area. They can only refer you there if your household is not at risk of abuse.
If the council wants to refer you to another council, it has to tell you in writing. The letter must explain the reasons for the decision and explain that you have a right to request a review of the decision within 21 days.
The council you applied to must continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until the new council has accepted your case and has temporary accommodation ready for you.
If you do not want to go to another area
If you’re referred to another area but you do not want to go, you can ask the council to review its decision. You have 21 days to do this.
Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser if you want to request a review. An adviser can tell you whether you have a good case for getting the decision reviewed and help with the review process.
How will another council help me?
If you are referred to another council, you will not have to start your homeless application again.
The second council has to accept the first council's decision that you are:
eligible for assistance, and
not intentionally homeless
When the council you are being referred to finds suitable temporary accommodation for you, you will have to move there until it has found you a permanent home.
If you choose not to move, the council may refuse to offer you any further help. Contact an adviser if this happens to you.
Last updated: 28 June 2021