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Check if your home is overcrowded

Work out if your home is big enough for the number of people who live there. If it’s not, you can get help from the council to find somewhere more suitable to live.

How to check if your home is legally overcrowded

The number of people who should live in your home depends on:

  • the number of rooms

  • the size of the rooms

  • the ages of the people who live there

Only bedrooms and living rooms count. Kitchens, bathrooms or rooms under 50 square feet do not.

There are two tests for overcrowding.

Test 1: overcrowding because of the number and size of rooms

In the tables these rules apply:

  • children who are between 1 and 9 years old count as half

  • children under 1 year old are not counted

Number of rooms

Number of rooms available for sleepingNumber of people who can live there
5+2 per room

Size of rooms

Floor area of room (square feet)Number of people who can live there

Test 2: overcrowding because of who you live with

Two people of the opposite sex cannot sleep in the same room, unless:

  • they're in a couple

  • one or both of them is 9 years old or under

Sometimes overcrowding is allowed

Your home is allowed to be legally overcrowded if:

  • you apply for the council’s permission, called licensed overcrowding

  • there’s a guest staying with you for less than 16 days, called temporary overcrowding

  • children have grown up in the home and reached the age of 1 or 10, called natural growth

Moving because your home is overcrowded

You may get priority on council or housing association waiting lists if your home is overcrowded. You have the right to apply in any of the areas you want to live in Scotland as long as you are 16 or over.

Ask for the housing allocations policy when you apply to check what priority you should get.

If you rent from a private landlord or letting agent

Ask the council for a housing options meeting if you need help to find somewhere else to live. They can help with:

If you rent from a council or housing association

Apply for a transfer to a larger home from your council or housing association.

If the waiting list is long you can:

The council must help if your home is dangerously overcrowded

If your home is a danger to your health, you may be legally homeless. You do not have to be living on the streets to be homeless.

Contact the council for help with homelessness

Last updated: 24 July 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England