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CIH Scotland

Housing advisers


Advising people with indefinite leave to remain

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

From the 1 January 2021 the rights described on this page also apply to European nationals, see details below. Find out more on our Brexit news page.

Who does this page apply to?

Prior to 1 January 2021, EEA nationals could use their EU free movement rights to enter the UK and to access housing and benefits. In most cases they did not require ‘leave’ from the Home Office, so the rights described on this page did not usually apply. But EU free movement rights changed on the 1 January 2021 when the Brexit transition period ended. The rights described on this page now apply to any person who:

  • is a non-EEA national with indefinite leave to remain;
  • is an EEA national who entered the UK before 1 January 2021 and who has EU settled status;
  • is an EEA national who entered the UK for the first time on or after 1 January 2021 and who has been granted indefinite leave to remain; or
  • is an EEA national who was granted indefinite leave to remain before 1 January 2021 for other reasons (for example, if s/he entered the UK before her country joined the EU).

This page looks at common housing problems which people with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) may face. It includes some references to relevant case law, and links to the relevant regulations.

What are the housing and housing benefit rights of people with indefinite leave to remain?

A person with indefinite leave is eligible for a housing allocation from the council and has the right to help if they are homeless and to universal credit/housing benefit/council tax rebate, or in certain circumstances only for universal credit/housing benefit/council tax rebate, as follows:

  • Eligible for a housing allocation, homelessness help and UC/HB/CTR. They must be habitually resident and not have had an undertaking to support and accommodate them signed by a relative within the last five years (but this exclusion does not apply if all the people who signed it are now dead).
  • Eligible for UC/HB/CTR only. If they are a national of North Macedonia or Turkey, and are habitually resident, they are eligible regardless of whether an undertaking has been signed (including if s/he has signed an undertaking in respect of their partner who is from one of these countries see: claims for UC and HB by couples). 

For further information see the pages on who is eligible for a housing allocation and who is eligible for universal credit/housing benefit and council tax rebate.

People with indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can also get accommodation from housing associations. This applies to all including those who do not meet conditions outlined above.

People with indefinite leave can apply for private rented housing but at a future date 'right to rent' checks may apply in Scotland and they will then need to show the landlord documents to prove their status.

Indefinite leave to enter confers exactly the same rights as indefinite leave to remain or settled status, and the housing eligibility regulations echo this putting people with indefinite leave to enter or remain into class C.

People serving in the armed forces and indefinite leave to remain

Non-UK nationals serving in the armed forces are exempted from immigration control while serving.  On discharge (if they have not become UK citizens while serving, which is possible only after five years’ service), they can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) if:

  • they have served for four years, or
  • they have been discharged because of injuries sustained in operations.

Normally, any family members living with them at the time will be included in the ILR application.  Once their application is accepted (and it is often sorted out before the services accommodation is lost) the ex-member of the armed forces has the normal rights of anyone with ILR.  Service in the armed forces counts as time spent in the UK wherever it occurs, and so people in this situation will be habitually resident.

The Scottish Government practice guide on allocations covers ex-service personnel at section 5.9, and there is also more general guidance on 'veteran housing'. All relevant legislation and regulations apply to armed forces personnel exempted from immigration control and former service personnel with ILR, including the fact that their employment and residence as members of the armed forces counts towards local connection. 

What if a family member comes to join a person with indefinite leave to remain?

When husbands/wives/civil partners and children apply to join a family member with indefinite leave to remain, they are usually given limited leave to remain for two periods of 30 months, after which they can apply for indefinite leave to remain. If the person with indefinite leave applies for a housing allocation or for help as homeless, they will be treated according to the rules for mixed households (and should look at that page for further information).

If a person with indefinite leave to remain applies to go on the council housing waiting list or register, s/he is eligible, and the family members should be included in any application to go on to the housing list, but no other adults can be joint tenants unless they are themselves eligible. The council can decide that it is not reasonable to include all family members on a housing waiting list application if it considers that they do not have the right to family life together.

Any accommodation offered by the council, through a homeless application or the allocation scheme, must be suitable for the whole household, subject to the local authority agreeing who is part of the household.

What about people who are subject to an undertaking?

To bring certain family members into the UK (adults who need high levels of care) the person bringing them (the sponsor) has to show that they can accommodate and support them and sign a legally binding undertaking to do this. This undertaking is noted on the relevant immigration documents and stamps. The result is to bar the person with indefinite leave to remain from eligibility for benefits or housing for five years, or until all the people who have signed the undertaking are dead if that happens before the five years are up.

Are there any particular problems?

If someone with indefinite leave brings a husband, wife, civil partner or cohabitee to join them, the spouse or partner will usually be given limited leave to remain. For further information on their benefits, see claims for UC or HB by couples.

Background Topics

How can we improve housing for new migrants in the UK?

A Housing Practitioners' Guide to Integrating Asylum Seekers & Refugees

A Housing Practitioners Guide to Integrating Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Published by the Scottish Refugee Council with support from CIH Scotland

Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland