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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.

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 housing benefit/council tax rebate, or in certain circumstances for housing benefit/council tax rebate only, as follows:

  • Eligible for a housing allocation, homelessness help and 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 HB/CTR only. If they are a national of Macedonia or Turkey, and are habitually resident, they are eligible regardless of whether an undertaking has been signed. This is because the requirement for eligibility here is simply to be ‘legally present’. 

For further information see the pages on who is eligible for a housing allocation and who is eligible for 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 as a result 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 5.3.  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 actually in the household.

What about people who are subject to an undertaking?

In order to bring certain family members into the UK (adults who need high levels of care) the person bringing them (the sponsor) has not only to show that they can accommodate and support them but also to 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.

What are the rights of people with ILR to housing benefit (HB) and council tax rebate (CTR)?

People with indefinite leave are entitled to HB/CTR as long as two other conditions are met:

  • They must be habitually resident (people who have lived in the UK for two years will normally be accepted as habitually resident).
  • They must not have had an undertaking to support and accommodate them signed by a relative within the last five years, although if all the people who have signed it are dead this will not apply.

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 the page on who is eligible for housing benefit.

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