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New Arrivals


Housing in Scotland explained

This page is for new arrivals. If you are a housing adviser please click here for information more relevant to you.

Homes in Scotland are rented out by private and social landlords.

What is a private landlord?

Private landlords are individuals or companies who offer private rented accommodation on the open market, by advertising or using agents. There are legal controls on the quality and standard of this accommodation, how many people may live there and what basic facilities should be offered (for example, WCs, bathrooms, cooking facilities). Rents are at the market rate, but some people may be able to get housing benefit (or Local Housing Allowance) to help with paying this rent. Tenants have to pay council tax as well as their rent. Here you can find more information about renting from private landlords and here about who is eligible for housing benefit (HB) and council tax rebate (CTR).

Click here for links to other organisations that can provide more information about:

  • your rights in private rented accommodation
  • dealing with problems with private landlords
  • and claiming welfare benefits.

For help with claiming housing benefit you can also go to your local council.

What is a social landlord?

Local councils and housing associations get government help to provide social housing. This is housing for people in need, at affordable rents, which may be temporary or permanent.

Local councils

In Scotland, some services are run by local government, called councils. Not all of these have housing available directly. But all of Scotland's 32 councils are 'housing authorities', which means that they:

  • provide advice to anyone in their area in housing need, whatever their immigration status, including advice on renting a property from a landlord in the private rented sector
  • inspect private rented housing to ensure that it is safe and healthy to live in and take action to improve standards
  • help tenants harassed by their landlords.

Contact your local council for these services.

They also provide some housing services that may not be available to some people from abroad:

Here is further information about who is eligible for a housing allocation or homelessness assistance.

Housing associations

Housing associations:

  • are independent, not-for-profit organisations
  • are run by a board or committee of volunteers
  • provide affordable homes for people in housing need
  • are now Scotland's major providers of new homes for rent
  • some may provide specialist housing, for example for the elderly or disabled.

In some districts of Scotland, housing associations run the homes that were once owned by the local council.

Most larger housing associations also have 'nomination agreements' with local councils so that an agreed number of their vacant properties are rented to people the council proposes (from the council waiting list or housing register). In areas of high housing demand this may be 100% of all vacancies. In most areas, housing associations also run joint waiting lists with local councils.

Further information about finding housing associations from which you can rent a home in your area is available on the Scottish Housing Regulator website. A directory of housing associations is also available.

As well as providing rented homes, some housing associations run 'low-cost home ownership' schemes for people on lower incomes who want to buy their own homes.

Background Topics

Chartered Institute of Housing