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CIH Scotland

New Arrivals


Who is eligible for a housing allocation or homelessness assistance?

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

To get help if you are homeless or to go on to the council housing register, you must be eligible. The law defines who is and is not eligible, in terms of immigration status and habitual residence. The law is different for people from within the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK and those from elsewhere.

British and Irish citizens and their family members

If you are a British or Irish citizen, you have the ‘right of abode’ which means you are free from immigration control and you are eligible for housing and homeless assistance without any restrictions. Even though the UK has left the EU, all Irish citizens have the right of abode regardless of whether they entered the UK before 1 January 2021 or not.

If you are the partner of a British or Irish citizen your own eligibility depends on the type of leave you have (see people with indefinite leave and people with limited leave) and the type of help you apply for. If you want to join the council waiting list but you aren’t eligible your partner can make the application, but only their name can go on the tenancy agreement. If you want to apply as homeless you may only have the right to an offer of a private tenancy but these rules are complex, and you may want to seek advice.

But if you are the family member of a British or Irish citizen who was born in Northern Ireland you may have the right to a council tenancy and full help if you are homeless.

European (EEA) nationals

On 1 January 2021, the law on eligibility for EU nationals changed when EU free movement rights ended. If you (or the EEA national you accompany as their family member) entered the UK on or after 1 January 2021, your eligibility for housing is now the same as all other people from outside the EEA.

If you (or the EEA national you accompany as their family member) entered the UK before 1 January 2021, your eligibility depends on whether you make an application to the EU Settlement Scheme before 1 July 2021, as follows:

  • if you are granted EU settled status you are eligible for housing (and you cannot use your EU free movement rights again);
  • if you fail to apply by the deadline you can only use any qualifying right to reside until 30 June 2021 (after which all your EU rights expire);
  • if you apply on or before 30 June 2021, you can continue to use any qualifying right to reside until you get your decision (even if you get it after then);
  • if you are granted EU pre-settled status your qualifying right to reside continues after 30 June 2021 until you get settled status (which may be up to five years later).

You have an EEA right to reside that qualifies you for housing if:

People from outside the EEA

Citizens of countries from outside the EEA are generally subject to immigration control and need permission to enter or remain in the UK, but if you are a long-term resident from a Commonwealth country with the ‘right of abode’ you are free from immigration control and are eligible. The eligibility rules say that only some people subject to immigration control are eligible:

Most other people from outside Europe are not eligible for housing and homelessness help. Social work departments may be able to help some people (e.g. people with social care needs) get accommodation in emergencies. There are also special services for people fleeing domestic abuse. There may also be some help available from charities for people who are homeless and destitute.

More Information

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland