Homelessness can be a troubling and confusing time and we are here to support you through it. As a Local Authority, we have a legal duty to help people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Our focus is to determine the best solution for you and our friendly and experienced Housing Options Team can offer you advice and support. We are committed to assess your housing needs and identify and discuss all options with you and try to prevent you from becoming homeless.
Within this page, you will find answers to some of our frequently asked questions.
If you are currently roofless and require urgent assistance, please call us on 01506 280000.
The law states that you are homeless if you:
- have no accommodation at all
- have somewhere to stay but you cannot gain entry to it (for example, your landlord has changed the locks)
- have somewhere to stay but it is probable that continued occupation of that accommodation will lead to abuse (for example, by neighbours, a former partner or family member)
- have somewhere to stay but it is not reasonable to stay there because of overcrowding and this overcrowding is bad for your health
- have somewhere to stay but its poor standard means it is not reasonable for you to stay there
- have somewhere to stay but you do not have permission to stay there
- are living in either B&B accommodation, a hotel, hostel or refuge
- have been staying with family or friends but they have asked you to leave
- usually live in a mobile home (for example, a caravan or boat) but there is nowhere for you to put it.
You are threatened with homelessness if you are likely to become homeless within 56 days.
You should contact us to speak with our Housing Options Team. You may be asked to attend our drop-in service where a full homeless assessment interview will be performed by a Housing Options Officer, this is sometimes referred to a Homeless Presentation or Presenting as Homeless. Alternatively, we may book a Housing Options Appointment to discuss your circumstances and offer tailored advice and assistance to support you.
The purpose of this interview is to determine if the council has a statutory duty to provide you with permanent accommodation. During the interview, the Housing Options Team will explore your circumstances and the nature of your housing need to find a solution to the issues you are facing. We will discuss how you came to be homeless and the circumstances surrounding that in order to identify the correct support suitable to you. We will ask questions regarding your previous address history, family details and your financial situation. We may suggest referring you to other advice agencies to provide you with holistic support. The Housing Options Officer has 28 days to make inquiries into your homelessness and obtain supporting evidence to decide on your case, during this time we have an interim duty to provide you with emergency accommodation should you require it.
We require identification in order to verify who you are and prevent fraud. Prior to you visiting us we recommend that you bring the following along to your interview:
- ID for all applicants. e.g. Passport, Driving Licence, Birth Certificate.
- Evidence of why you have become homeless.
- Other evidence to support your application. e.g. Medical evidence to support restrictions on any accommodation you're offered.
Do not worry if you are unable to find identification, you can still present as homeless without it, however we will require you to provide it within 28 days of your homeless presentation in order to verify your identity and make a decision on your homeless application.
If you need emergency accommodation you must contact us right away on 01506 280000.
Depending on availability, you may be offered a place at our assessment centre to determine your levels of support requirements, or a hotel or bed & breakfast in West Lothian. There is a charge for temporary hotel and B&B accommodation which is currently £112.77 per week or £16.11 per day. You may be able to claim housing benefit to help cover the cost of this if you are on a low income. This will be discussed with you at the time you are offered this accommodation.
You will remain in hotel accommodation until a suitable temporary tenancy becomes available. Any temporary accommodation offered to you could be a sharing space or a placement in one of our homeless accommodation units. Temporary accommodation can be anywhere in West Lothian and we do not offer any options to choose a particular area for emergency and temporary accommodation.
If you are aged between 16-18 and facing homelessness, we are here to help. Please visit our Youth Homelessness page where you will find more information about the support available to you.
Yes, we have our Homeless Health Team who are Mental Health Nurses employed by NHS Lothian and work within West Lothian Council's Housing Need service to support homeless individuals facing difficulties with their Mental Health. You can find more information about this service and how to access it by speaking with your Housing Options Officer or on the West Lothian Health & Social Care Partnership Website..
If you have nowhere for this to go, we can uplift your furniture and place this into storage for you. We will complete a storage request form and confirm which items can be stored. You may wish to keep some items with you in your temporary accommodation. There is a charge for using furniture storage we will explain what these costs are if you require this service.
A housing application or mainstream application for social housing can be made by the general public in any situation. You can accumulate points based on your personal circumstances and choose property types and area selections more freely. You are given an unlimited number of offers for properties meaning you do not have to accept any offer of housing and a refusal would not affect your application.
A homeless application is only for those who are or about to become homeless. You must present to the council as homeless before you can be considered for a homeless application. If found unintentionally homeless, you will be awarded 750 points on your application which are non-accumulative and the council has a duty to provide you with one offer of permanent accommodation. You will be restricted on your area choices and are unable to change the property type you are offered unless there are exceptional circumstances requiring a property needs assessment to be completed (PNA).
Once you receive your decision on your homeless application, the letter we provide to you will state one of the following reasons:
- Unintentionally Homeless - This means the council has accepted your homeless application and therefore has a duty to provide you with one suitable offer of permanent housing.
- Threatened with Homelessness - Unintentional - This mean West Lothian Council has a duty to provide you with help and assistance to keep your current housing. If you become homeless West Lothian Council's duty will be to provide you with suitable permanent accommodation and temporary accommodation should you need it.
- Intentionally Homeless - This means that the council has determined that your household has done or failed to do something which has led to the loss of your accommodation, knowing that these acts will have led to you becoming homeless. e.g. Selling a Property that was reasonable for you to continue to occupy. This means the council has no legal duty to provide you with permanent accommodation however it does have a duty to provide you with advice and assistance on your housing situation.
- Threatened with Homelessness - Intentional - This means, West Lothian Council has a duty to provide you with help and assistance to keep your current housing. If you become homeless, the Council's duty is to provide you with temporary accommodation for a reasonable period with help and advice during this period to find your own accommodation.
- Neither Homeless nor Potentially Homeless - This means the council has determined that you are not currently threatened with the loss of your current accommodation.
- Ineligible for Assistance - This means that the council has determined that you have no right to reside in the UK and/or have no recourse to public funds therefore not entitled to homelessness assistance.
If you disagree with the decision made on your homeless application, you have a Right to Appeal.
If you are unable to find the information you are looking for, please contact us on 01506 280000. Our friendly customer service centre will be able to put you in touch with the Housing Options Team to discuss your needs.
West Lothian Council strive to provide a quality service to you, and continually look at ways to develop and improve services. We want to know how you feel about your personal experience of our Housing Needs Service.
It would be helpful if you could complete our Housing Options Customer Survey to give us this information. If you feel strongly about anything in particular, please use the comments box to write your thoughts.
Alternatively, If you are unhappy with the service you have received from the Housing Options Team you can complete an online complaint form
or call 01506 280000 to make a direct complaint which will be dealt with by the Housing Options Manager.