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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 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. If you are an Irish citizen you are also eligible for housing and homelessness assistance without restrictions because you do not need leave to enter or remain in the UK even if you enter after 31 December 2020.

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 EEA 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 right to housing is now the same as 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 right to housing depends on whether you made an application to the EU Settlement Scheme as follows:

  • if you have been granted EU settled status you have a right to apply for local authority housing (and you cannot use your EU free movement rights again);
  • if you applied on or before 30 June 2021 (or you have made a late application which has been accepted) but your application has not yet been decided, you have a right to housing provided you have a qualifying right to reside;
  • if you have been granted EU pre-settled status you have a right to housing provided you have a qualifying right to reside 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

If you are a citizen of country outside the EEA you are subject to immigration control and need permission to enter or remain in the UK, unless you are a long-term resident from a Commonwealth country with the ‘right of abode’. If you are subject to immigration control, you are only eligible for housing if:

  • you left Sudan on or after 15 April 2023 due to escalating violence and have been given leave without being sponsored and without a ‘no public funds’ condition.
  • you have limited leave to enter or remain granted on the basis of your family or private life and your leave is not subject to a 'no public funds' condition;
  • you are from Hong Kong and have a British National (Overseas) visa and the Home Office has agreed to lift the ‘no public funds’ condition after you applied to change it;

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