Renfrewshire Council

Help if you are homeless right now

What to do first, how we decide if you are homeless, what happens next, How long the decision takes, if we decide you are not homeless or threatened with homelessness, you became homeless intentionally or you don't have a connection to Renfrewshire, appealing our decision, your belongings, temporary accommodation, permanent housing and tenancies, types of accommodation.

What to do first

We have a legal duty to offer support to anyone who is currently homeless, or likely to become homeless within 56 days. Once you've contacted us, you will be able to meet one of our Housing Options Advisers who will discuss what your housing options are and help you decide which is best for your own situation. If the best option is to make a homeless application, we will help you through the application process.

If you're 25 or over, call us on 0300 300 1203 or come to the Housing Advice and Homeless Services at 15 Abercorn Street, Paisley, PA3 4AA.

If you're under 25, call us on 0300 300 1203 or come to the George Street Service at 31 to 35 George Street, Paisley, PA1 2JY.

To help you make a homeless application, your Housing Options Adviser will carry out an initial assessment of any support needs you may have.

If that assessment indicates that you would benefit from housing support, your Housing Options Adviser will make a referral to our Housing Support team.

The team will help you throughout your time in homelessness and support your household to settle into your new permanent home to prevent you from becoming homeless again in the future.


How we decide if you are homeless

You can be deemed to be homeless or threatened with homelessness if:

  • you have been living with family or friends and they have asked you to leave
  • you are at risk of violence from someone you live with or someone you used to live with
  • you have been evicted by your landlord and have nowhere to stay
  • your current accommodation is unsafe or unsuitable for you to continue to live in - this could be because remaining there would endanger you or your family
  • you do not have accommodation that is available for you to occupy
  • you are likely to become homeless within 56 days.

As part of our assessment of your homeless status, we will ask you a few questions so we can make the right decision on your application. Some of these questions might be quite sensitive, however you can be assured that any information you provide will be treated with the strictest confidence.

You will be able to tell us if you would prefer to be dealt with by either a male or a female member of staff, and we will try to ensure that we can accommodate this. 

In order to make sure that children are safe, we may share information with Health, Education and Social Work services when appropriate. This will ensure that any services you or your family currently receive from these services can continue to be provided.

For any homeless applications, we will adhere to the laws which relate to homelessness in Scotland. These are contained in part 2 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1987 as amended. We also take account of guidance on dealing with homeless applications in the Scottish Government's Code of Guidance on Homelessness.


What happens next

Once we have collected the information we need from you, we will assess your application to decide if you:

  • are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • knowingly or deliberately did, or failed to do something, which resulted in you losing your home
  • have a local connection to Renfrewshire. 

To enable us to reach a decision on these 3 points, we may have to make enquiries that involve contacting your previous landlord, your parents, relatives or friends who may have asked you to leave, or other agencies that have information which will help us to make the right decision on your application.

Once we are satisfied that you are homeless or threatened with homelessness, and that you did not become homeless intentionally and you have a local connection to Renfrewshire, we will issue you with a decision letter advising you that we have accepted a duty to offer you permanent housing.

If you require it, we will continue to provide you with temporary accommodation during the time it takes to find you permanent accommodation. 


How long the decision takes

We always try to give you a decision as quickly as we can, however this will depend on the number of enquiries we are currently processing.

We aim to take no longer than 28 days to reach a decision. If we have not managed to get all the information we require within 28 days, we will advise you of this and tell you the reason for the delay.


If we decide you are not homeless or threatened with homelessness

If our decision is that you are not homeless or threatened with homelessness, it would mean that you have accommodation somewhere that it is reasonable for you to live in. If we have provided you with temporary accommodation, you will have to vacate that accommodation and return to your own accommodation.


If we decide you became homeless intentionally

If we decide that you knowingly or deliberately did, or failed to do, something that resulted in you losing your accommodation, (which is normally referred to as being "intentionally homeless"), we will not have a duty to find you permanent accommodation.

If required, we may still provide you with temporary accommodation for a reasonable period of time and offer advice on your other housing options to assist you to find somewhere to live.


If you don't have a connection to Renfrewshire

If we can't establish that you have a connection to Renfrewshire, we can refer you to another council where you do have a local connection.

To have a local connection to a council area you must:

  • have lived there for a specific period of time
  • have immediate family who have lived in the area for a specific time
  • have a permanent job in the area
  • have some special reason for being housed there. 

We will only refer you to another council if you want us to do this and will not refer you back if you or any member of your household would be at risk if they returned to that area.

If you have no local connection with us but do not want to be referred to another council, we may still provide you with temporary accommodation for a reasonable period of time and offer advice on your other housing options to assist you to find somewhere to live.


Appealing our decision

Yes, if you have been issued with a decision that you are:

  • not homeless
  • intentionally homeless
  • you have no local connection to Renfrewshire.

You can request a review of the decision. The best way to do this is to put your request in writing and give the letter to your Housing Options Adviser or post it to us at the address below:

Abercorn Street Service
15 Abercorn Street
Paisley PA3 4AA
Phone: 0300 300 1203

You should state why you disagree with the decision and give any new information that would affect the decision that you have not previously advised us of.

If you prefer, you can speak to your Housing Options Adviser who will take a note of your reasons for requesting a review and pass this on to the appropriate officer.

If you request a review of the decision, it will be passed to an officer who is senior to the person who made the original decision and they will review the decision and advise you in writing of the outcome of their review. 

You must submit a request for a review of the decision you are challenging within 21 days from the date the decision was issued to you.


What happens to your belongings if you have nowhere to stay

If you have furniture or other belongings that you can't take to your temporary accommodation, and you have no means of storing them yourself (i.e. with friends or relatives), we can arrange to have them taken in to storage.

We reserve the right to make a charge for this service and you should discuss this with your Housing Options Adviser. If we decide to impose a charge, we will notify you in advance to let you make alternative arrangements for your belongings, if you wish.


Temporary accommodation

We can still deal with your application even if you are staying with relatives or friends on a temporary basis. If you stay for short periods of time with different friends or relatives while we are dealing with your application, we would ask you to keep us informed of where we can contact you. 

What type of temporary accommodation we may offer you

The type of accommodation you will be offered will depend on your individual circumstances and what accommodation we have available at the time you contact us.

How much temporary accommodation will cost

We will charge you rent for the temporary accommodation that you stay in. You might be entitled to Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction and we will help you to complete the application form for this and let you know what you need to pay.

You will also be responsible for paying the cost of gas, electricity and any heating charges that apply during your stay in temporary accommodation. If you qualify for Housing Benefit, you must ensure that you provide all the information we require, for example proof of income.

If you need to go away while you are staying in temporary accommodation

If you are staying in our temporary accommodation and you need to go away, you must let us know. You can either tell the staff at the supported/staffed complexes or contact your Housing Options Adviser at Abercorn Street. If you do not let us know and we are unable to contact you we may cancel your temporary accommodation.

If there are complaints about anti-social behaviour in your temporary accommodation

We closely monitor behaviour in our temporary accommodation. We work with the Council's Anti-Social Investigations Team to tackle and prevent anti-social behaviour, such as excessive noise and parties. 


Permanent housing

You can tell us which area you would like to be permanently housed in and we will try to meet your individual requirements, however we cannot guarantee to do this as we have to take account of the houses that are available. In some areas houses rarely become available, and some areas may not have the size or type of house you need. Your Housing Options Adviser will be able to give you advice on where houses that meet your housing need are more readily available.

If you have specific needs you must tell us about these when you make your application. These needs might include that:

  • you have family who provide you with support
  • you have a child who has special educational needs and has to attend a specific school that caters for these needs
  • you cannot go to an area as you would be at risk of violence or harassment
  • you have a medical condition that affects the type of house you would need, such as a mobility problem that prevents you from climbing stairs.

When we accept the duty to find you permanent housing, we are required by law to make you one offer. You will be expected to accept this offer of housing unless there are special reasons why it does not meet your needs, in which case Renfrewshire's local policy allows us to make you up to 2 offers.


If you are offered a tenancy

When you are made an offer of housing, you will be invited to view the property along with the local Housing Officer.

The Housing Officer can provide you with useful advice on your responsibilities as a tenant, local knowledge of the area and guidance on what you need to do to accept the tenancy.

They will also arrange for you to sign the missive for the tenancy and you will be given a tenancy start date which is the date you will be expected to move in.

If you are in temporary accommodation, you must leave that accommodation on the same day that your tenancy starts, at the latest. Failure to do this can result in you having rent arrears in your tenancy even if you are in receipt of Housing Benefit/Universal Credit.

If you refuse the tenancy we offer you

Once we have made you an offer of permanent housing that meets your individual housing need, we will issue you with a letter advising you that we have met our duty towards you in terms of the current homelessness legislation.

Under Renfrewshire's local policy, you may still be entitled to a second offer of permanent accommodation. If you refuse the second offer, we will then close your application.

We will provide you with advice on your other housing options, such as applying for a house through the council's waiting list, from a housing association or from a private landlord. If you are staying in our temporary accommodation, we will agree a date for you to move out of that accommodation.

 If the tenancy offered to you are not suitable

Yes, if you don't think that the tenancy(s) you were offered meet your individual housing needs you can appeal against the offer. The best way to do this is to put your reason for appealing the offer in writing and give the letter to your Housing Options Adviser.

You should state why you feel the accommodation offered to you did not meet your housing needs.

A tenancy would meet your housing need unless it:

  • was a size that did not meet your household's minimum requirements
  • was not wind and watertight
  • did not meet the needs of your medical condition
  • was in an area that you were fleeing violence or harassment from
  • did not meet any special requirements of someone in your household, that you had told us about, such as special education needs. 

If you appeal against an offer of housing, your appeal will be passed to a senior officer and they will review the suitability of the offer and advise you in writing of the outcome of their review. You must submit any appeal against an offer within 21 days from the date the offer was made to you. Unfortunately, we cannot hold the offer open for you while your appeal is being dealt with.


Types of accommodation

Furnished flats

We have fully furnished flats in most areas of Renfrewshire. If you have nowhere to stay, these flats may be let to you on a temporary basis until:

  • you have received a decision that we have a duty to house you and you have signed for a permanent tenancy;
  • you have received a decision that we have a duty to house you but you have refused the offer(s) of housing that we have made to you;
  • you have received a decision that we do not have a duty to house you. 

Supported accommodation

Fully furnished flats with on-site support workers who assist you to gain the skills needed to sustain a tenancy. This type of accommodation will be offered to you where it has been identified that additional support is required to allow you to sustain a tenancy.

Staffed accommodation

We have fully-furnished flats in 24-hour staffed complexes.

Bed and breakfast

We will only use bed and breakfast accommodation in an emergency if we have nothing else available. You will be moved to other temporary accommodation as soon as it becomes available.