Local authority help

If the client does not have the right, or does not want, to stay in her/his present accommodation, then her/his right to be housed immediately by a local authority should be checked.

This content applies to Scotland

Help from the housing department

Local authorities have a duty to find accommodation for people who are:

  • homeless or threatened with homelessness

  • not intentionally homeless

They also have duties to give advice about homelessness to people in their area. For more detailed information, please see the section on homelessness.

Making a homelessness application

A homelessness application can be made to any authority (although the authority applied to may refer the applicant to another authority with which the applicant has a local connection). If the application is made outside normal working hours the local authority should have an emergency telephone service to a duty officer, who may be a social worker. The police usually have details of this, or the number may be in the telephone directory in the entry for the local authority. A local authority must give interim accommodation to anyone who may be homeless whilst inquiries are carried out into her/his status. Evidence of the client's status can be pursued the following day.

Making accommodation available pending inquiries

If a local authority has reason to believe that an applicant is homeless, then it must make accommodation available while it makes inquiries and decides what duties (if any) are owed to the applicant. For more information on this interim duty, please see the section on homelessness.

Local authority advice duties

Every local authority has a general duty to provide advice and information about homelessness and its prevention to anyone in its district. In addition, if someone is homeless or threatened with homelessness the local authority has a duty to give them advice and assistance in any attempt they make to secure or retain accommodation. This duty sits alongside the duty to provide temporary accommodation. For more detailed information, please see the section on homelessness.

Help from the social work department

There are circumstances where the client will not be able to make a homelessness application to the local authority. Examples of this are if the client is, or could be, deemed to be intentionally homeless or if subject to immigration control, for example, as an asylum seeker.

It may still be possible to get help from the social work department if there are young or vulnerable people in the household. The social work department has various powers under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 to assist such individuals and/or families.

People from abroad

The Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 and parts of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 amended local authorities' duties to asylum seekers.

For more information, please see the section on asylum seekers.

Last updated: 26 September 2017