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Getting a transfer if you rent from the council or a housing association

You can apply to the transfer list if you want to move home. The waiting time for a transfer depends on your housing needs and how much priority you have on the waiting list.

Where you can get a transfer

If you rent from the council, you can only get a transfer to another home in the same council area.

If you rent from a housing association, you can be considered for any homes they own. Some housing associations have homes in different areas. Ask them if you’re not sure.

If you want to move to an area your landlord does not cover, you could:

Applying for a transfer

Ask the council or housing association for a transfer application form.

You can also ask them if there’s a common housing register for transfers in your area. This is a joint waiting list shared between the council and different housing associations, so you only have to make one application.

You’ll have to give some details about why you want a transfer and your housing needs.

You can apply for a transfer for any reason, but certain reasons could help you get a transfer faster. For example:

  • your family has grown and your home is now overcrowded

  • your home is now too big for you, because family members have left home

  • your home is not suited to your needs because you have health problems or access needs

  • you need to move to a different area for work or family reasons

Check the allocations policy

The allocations policy tells you how much priority you’ll get on the transfer waiting list. The council or housing association must give you a copy of the policy if you ask for it.

The priority system for the transfer list is usually similar to the main waiting list. Check our guidance on when you could get priority.

If you need to move urgently

If your home is not safe to stay in, ask for a management transfer. This is an emergency transfer that could help you get a home more quickly.

You could get a management transfer if:

  • you’re experiencing domestic abuse

  • you’re experiencing harassment or violence in your neighbourhood

  • your home has severe repair issues that are affecting your health

If you can, give your landlord proof of why it’s not safe for you to stay there, such as police reports or doctor’s letters.

If you need somewhere safe to stay immediately, you could get help from the council. Check our guidance on making a homeless application.

If you’re refused a management transfer or the council will not take your homeless application, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser. They could help you challenge the decision.

If you’re offered a transfer

Your offer should be in writing, and you should be given reasonable time to consider it.

If you refuse an offer, you could lose your priority. This means you could wait a long time before getting another offer.

Before you refuse an offer, ask how many offers you’ll get and what happens if you refuse.

If you’re offered a home that’s not suitable for your needs, you could ask for it to be withdrawn. You’ll need to explain why you think it’s not suitable. For example, if you’re disabled and it’s not adapted for your needs.

If they do not agree to withdraw the offer, contact a Shelter Scotland adviser to get help challenging this.

If you accept the offer

You should get the same type of tenancy, so your rights will be the same. Check your rights in a Scottish secure tenancy.

The council or housing association will let you know when you can move in. Check our guidance for moving house.

Last updated: 19 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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