If you are forced to leave your home, for example because it is due to be demolished, you may be entitled to a form of compensation, called a disturbance payment, to cover the costs of the move. This page explains what disturbance payments are and who can claim them.
What are disturbance payments?
A disturbance payment is compensation you can claim if you are forced to move from your home in certain circumstances. Disturbance payments are intended to cover the expenses of moving. If you don't qualify for a home loss payment, for example because you haven't lived in the property for long enough, you may still be able to claim a disturbance payment.
When can I claim a disturbance payment?
You should be able to claim a disturbance payment if:
you have to move out permanently, and
you are entitled to claim, and
you have to move out as a result of certain circumstances, and
you're living in the property on the 'relevant date'.
Do I have to move out permanently?
Yes. You can only claim a disturbance payment if you have to move out for good. So, for example, you won't be able to claim if you need to move out for a few months while work is being carried out, and are then allowed to move back in again. However, it's likely that your landlord will cover your expenses in this situation - read the pages on repairs in private and council accommodation to find out more.
Who is entitled to claim?
You're entitled to claim a disturbance payment if you live in the property and are being forced to move out permanently as a result of the circumstances outlined below. You don't have to own the home or have your name on the tenancy agreement, you simply have to have a right to live there. So for example you could be:
a relative of the home owner or tenant
the partner of the home owner or tenant.
In which circumstances can I claim?
You may be able to claim a disturbance payment if you lose your home as a result of any of the following situations:
if you own your home and it's bought by the council or another public authority through a compulsory purchase order (CPO)
if you're a tenant and your landlord has agreed voluntarily to sell your home to a council or other authority which would otherwise have bought the property using a CPO
if the council or another public authority which has the power to obtain compulsory purchase orders is redeveloping the area your home is in (for example, by demolishing houses or building new facilities)
if you can no longer occupy your home because the council has issued a demolition order, improvement order, closure order or dangerous building notice
if you're a housing association tenant and your landlord is redeveloping your home, and you won't be able to move back in once the work is done (for example, if they're demolishing an old block of high rise flats to build modern apartments instead).
If you're in these circumstances but are receiving other forms of compensation (for example, a supplementary payment because your home is being bought through a CPO) you may not be able to claim a disturbance payment - it depends on your situation. Talk to a solicitor or an adviser at Citizens Advice if you're in this situation.
What is the 'relevant date'?
In order to claim a disturbance payment, you need to be living in the property on the 'relevant date'. The relevant date varies, depending on the reason for your move.
My home is being bought through a CPO
Before a council or other public authority can get a CPO from the Scottish Ministers, it must send an official notice to all tenants and owners of the properties that are to be bought. It must also put up a notice outside the property or properties to be bought, and put an advertisement in at least one local newspaper.
In order to claim a disturbance payment, you must be living in the property on the date this notice goes out.
I have to move out due to an order from the council
If you have to move out as a result of a demolition order, improvement order, closure order or dangerous building notice issued by the council, you must have been living in the property on the date when the order was made or the notice issued.
I rent from the council - can I get a disturbance payment?
If you're a Scottish secure tenant renting from the council, you're not legally entitled to a disturbance payment if the council makes you move out. However, some councils will make payments anyway - this varies from area to area. If you're refused a payment, it may be worth taking the matter to a solicitor at a law centre.
How much money will I get?
There is no maximum or minimum amount you can claim. However, you can only claim 'reasonable' costs for moving, so, for example you won't be able to replace all your old things with new, and then claim the money for them.
You should be paid any interest on your claim that has built up from the date you moved until the date your claim is paid.
Will I have to pay my removal costs up front?
In order to receive a disturbance payment, you will first have to pay for the removal expenses yourself, and then claim the money back. This may cause problems if you can't afford to pay for the removal up front - talk to the council if you're in this situation, as they may be able to help you.
Some councils offer a fixed lump sum payment in advance. The advantage of this system is that you won't have to pay for the removal expenses yourself and then claim the money back. The fixed sum should be enough for an average household to move. However, depending on your situation, this may not cover all your costs - contact the council if this is the case.
Some councils may offer removal and redecoration services, which again means you won't have to pay for these upfront.
What moving costs can I claim?
You can claim the costs of the actual move and also any costs that are incurred as a result of the move. Your council may well provide a list of what you can claim. In general, however, you should be able to claim for:
removal expenses (for example, hiring a removal firm and travelling to your new home)
getting your old carpets fitted in your new home or buying and fitting second-hand carpets if this isn't possible
altering your curtains or blinds or buying second-hand ones if your existing curtains or blinds don't fit your new windows
getting your cooker disconnected and reconnected or buying and fitting a second-hand cooker if you can't take your existing one with you (for example, because it's gas and your new home doesn't have gas)
redecorating your new home to the same standard as your old home
getting your mail redirected
getting the phone connected
getting your washing machine disconnected and reconnected
getting your television aerial moved
getting additional locks fitted, to make your new home as secure as your old home
replacement school uniforms for your children, if they have to move schools
loss of wages, if you need to take unpaid leave to move.
The page on moving costs has more information on the expenses involved when you move house.
TIP: If you need to get replacement furnishings or equipment such as carpets, curtains or a cooker, it's a good idea to check what the council's policy is before buying anything. Most councils will only give you the cost of second-hand furnishings or equipment, of a similar age to the things you've left behind in your old home, so if you want to buy new, you'll need to make up the difference yourself.
TIP: Remember to keep receipts for all your expenses. If you're not sure whether an expense counts, claim it anyway - your claim can only be turned down.
What if I'm disabled and need to pay for adaptations?
If you're disabled and need to get your new home adapted (for example, if you need to install ramps, handrails or accessible kitchen or bathroom fittings), you can also claim these costs as part of your disturbance payment. However, the council will only pay to get your new home adapted to the same level as your old home, so if you want to make any additional changes, you'll need to get a grant or pay for them yourself. Read the section on getting adaptations done to find out more about this.
How do I claim a disturbance payment?
You have up to five years from the date you move to make your claim, but it's best to do so as soon as possible after the move. Your council will probably have an application form for you to fill in, or you may just need to send them a letter with your receipts. Keep copies of everything you send to the council.
What if the council tells me I'm not entitled to claim?
If you believe you meet all the criteria for making a claim but the council turns you down, you may be able to take them to the sheriff court, or to the Court of Session for a judicial review. Contact a solicitor if you're in this position, as they will be able to tell you whether you have a case, and help you take legal action. You may be able to get legal aid to help pay for some of your legal costs.
What if the council won't pay my entire claim?
If there's a dispute over how much you can claim, you can appeal to the Lands Tribunal, but bear in mind that if you lose the appeal, you may have to pay the council's legal expenses. Again, it's a good idea to speak to a solicitor first.
Last updated: 31 January 2020