Finding somewhere to live if the council will not help

You'll need to find your own place to stay if the council does not have a duty to offer you a permanent home. You can rent privately or apply for a housing association or council house. In some cases, you might receive housing help from the social work department.

Private rented housing

Renting privately is usually the quickest way to get a long-term home because there are no waiting lists.

You can find a private property to rent through letting agencies and online property marketplaces.

Most new tenancies will be private residential tenancies. These are open-ended tenancies with no set length.

Find out more about private residential tenancies

If you are affected by a landlord or letting agent’s ‘no DSS’ policy, contact Shelter Scotland. A 'no DSS' policy is when a landlord or agent refuses to rent to anyone who gets universal credit or housing benefit.

Social housing

Social housing gives those who need it access to affordable homes. It is common to be on a waiting list for social housing.

Rent from the council

Applying for council housing is not the same as applying to the council as homeless.

Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for council housing anywhere in Scotland. However, there are exemptions based on immigration status.

Council rent is usually cheaper than renting privately. You won't have to pay a deposit upfront.

Find out more about council housing

Rent from a housing association

Housing associations are not-for-profit organisations that offer affordable housing.

Anyone over the age of 16 can apply for a home through a housing association. Some housing associations specialise in homes for particular groups, such as disabled people or young people.

Housing association rent is generally cheaper than renting privately, although it can be higher than council rents. You're unlikely to pay a deposit upfront.

If the council or housing association refuse to accept your application, contact Shelter Scotland.

Get help paying your rent

If you have a low income or get welfare benefits, you may be entitled to extra money to help pay your rent.

Find out more about claiming benefits

You might be referred to social work

The council may refer you to the social work department if:

  • the housing department does not have a duty to help you but believes social work does

  • the housing department does have a duty to help you but believes social work can offer you better help

The social work department has legal duties towards you if you are homeless and:

  • under 18 years old

  • responsible for dependent children

  • under 21 years old and have been in care

They may also help if you are:

  • ill, elderly or disabled

  • have physical or mental health needs that are not being met

The type of help social workers provides can vary because it’s not defined in law. They might:

  • provide accommodation for you

  • help you to raise money for a deposit on a privately rented place

  • provide financial support

  • safeguard the welfare of 'children in need'

Any person under the age of 18 is classed as a child by the social work department. You are considered to be 'in need' if your health or development are at risk. If you are homeless and under 18, social workers should consider this to be a risk to your health and development.

Contact Shelter Scotland if:

  • you’re being passed between the housing and social work departments, with neither taking responsibility for your case

  • the council has passed you on to social work, but they cannot help you in the way that you need

  • you need to take legal action against the social work department over a housing matter

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

Get homeless help from the council

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

Get emergency help from the council