Changes to the Unsuitable Accommodation Order in Scotland

The Homeless Person’s (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2020 – commonly referred to as the Unsuitable Accommodation Order (UAO) – makes the most significant change to the Order since it first came into force in 2004.

Originally focused on households containing dependent children and/or pregnant women, the Order legislated for a time limit on placements in unsuitable accommodation, over time reduced from 14 days to 7 days.  

The Order as amended in 2020 extends its scope, meaning that the 7-day time restriction now applies to all people experiencing homelessness.

So what does this mean?

It means that no household can be placed in temporary accommodation for more than 7 days if:

  • It is not wind and watertight, meet minimum safety standards, or is not suitable for occupation by a homeless household
  • It is in a different local authority area and/or too far from the health and education services people use, or not in the locality of a place of employment (considering reasonable public transport links)
  • It lacks adequate bedrooms, toilet and personal washing facilities for the exclusive use of the household
  • It does not have the use of adequate cooking facilities and the use of a living room
  • It is not usable by the household for 24 hours a day
  • It is not suitable for visitation by a child who is not a member of the household and in respect of whom a member of the household has parental rights

A local authority placing a homeless household in accommodation not meeting these requirements for more than 7 days will be a breach of the Order.

Are there any exemptions?

There are a number of exemptions to the Order in relation to particular homelessness situations, particular types of accommodation, and the particular situation in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic.  These exemptions include situations where:

  • the household became homeless as a result of an emergency situation such as fire, flood, or other disaster
  • the household has been offered accommodation that is suitable, but requests the accommodation that does not meet the requirements
  • the accommodation is used wholly or mainly to provide temporary accommodation to people who have left their homes as a result of domestic abuse and is managed by an organisation which (i) is not a public authority or a local authority; and (ii) does not trade for profit
  • the local authority has secured that the accommodation has been made available and services relating to health, child care or family welfare are provided to people accommodated there

the accommodation made available (i) is shared tenancy accommodation which is shared, small-scale and of a good standard; (ii) consists of community hosting where the homeless household stays for a short period of time in a spare bedroom in the home of a community member; or (iii) is rapid access accommodation which offers emergency temporary accommodation for rough sleepers which consists of a bed, safe space, on-site homelessness and support assessments, and support to access specialist support for residents

  • a person in the household has symptoms of coronavirus and the household requires to isolate (expires on 31 January 2021)
  • the accommodation is required to provide temporary accommodation to ensure that a distance of 2 metres can be maintained between a member of the household and a person who is not a member or the household in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (expires on 31 January 2021)
  • a local authority is unable to make a suitable placement as a result of the impact of coronavirus on the supply of temporary accommodation in the area (expires end Dec 2020)