Social housing allocations in Scotland: practice guide

Guidance on allocating homes in the social rented sector.

9. Access and Eligibility

This section looks at who is eligible to join a housing list and who is eligible for a social rented sector tenancy in Scotland.

By working through this section readers will:

  • understand the rules governing housing lists.
  • know who is eligible for social housing.

9.1 Housing lists

A housing list is defined as a list of applicants for housing which is either kept by social landlords individually, jointly, or by a third party so that they can allocate their housing (Section 19(2) of the 1987 Act, (as amended)).

The law does not require landlords to manage or maintain their own housing list, although most social landlords in Scotland do so either themselves or in partnership with others. A partnership approach might take the form of a Common Housing Register (CHR) or a shared list.

If a landlord or landlords don't wish to manage a list themselves, alternatives could include an RSL giving 100% nomination rights to local authorities.

Right to join the list

Anyone aged 16 or over has a right to be admitted to a housing list. Section 19(1) of the 1987 Act (as substituted by section 9 of the 2001 Act) sets out this right.

Anyone aged 16 or over should have fair and open access to a landlord's housing list. Landlords should never discourage applicants from applying for housing and having their housing needs assessed.

There may be certain circumstances where it would be helpful to accept an application from someone before their 16th birthday, for example to help the transition of a young person from care to independent living.

Landlords must admit applicants irrespective of their level of housing need according to their allocation policy. They cannot run any form of points or need thresholds (sometimes referred to as 'cut-off points') for gaining access to their list.

This means that landlords can make allocations from a fully inclusive list that includes both housing needs and aspirations. Equally important, a fully inclusive list means that landlords will have accurate information about housing demand in their area.

9.2 Eligibility for housing

Anyone aged 16 and over and from the UK is eligible for housing. The position becomes more complex for those from outwith the UK, with legislation setting out who is and is not eligible. Eligibility depends on many factors including:

  • nationality (including that of family members).
  • economic activity of the applicant and that of their family members.
  • compliance with the workers registration scheme for A8 nationals and the workers authorisation scheme for A2 nationals;
  • immigration status and rules around asylum and immigration; and
  • entitlement to public funds.

For example, European Economic Area (EEA) nationals who have a right to reside are eligible for housing and homelessness assistance from the local authority. However, some people may also need to be habitually resident to qualify for housing benefit.

As RSLs are not subject to the exclusion on granting tenancies to persons subject to immigration control (see section 118 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which applies in Scotland only to local authorities) they do not need to consider nationality or immigration status and can allocate homes to any person.

Asylum seekers are entitled to be admitted to a social landlord's housing list, but they have no right to be given a full or short Scottish secure tenancy.

Given this complexity, it may be helpful to access further information or specific legal advice in some cases. Sources of further information include:

Key Points

Anyone aged 16 or over has the right to be admitted to a housing list.

Being admitted to the list does not equate to being eligible to be housed.

Anyone aged 16 and over and from the UK is eligible for housing. Otherwise, this is a complex area, with legislation setting out who is and is not eligible. These rules are different for local authorities and RSLs.


Email: Claire McHarrie

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