The Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) Scotland Order (the "UAO 2014") came into force in 2014 originally for the purpose of ensuring local authorities provided pregnant women, families, and children interim accommodation where they presented as homeless. It also set out types of properties which are deemed unsuitable (subject to some exceptions) for the purpose of fulfilling this duty.

For example, properties will be unsuitable where they are outwith the area of the local authority or if the living conditions provided are below the standards set out in the UAO 2014 e.g., where the property is not wind and watertight or does not have suitable cooking facilities.

Further, the UAO 2014 provided that local authorities could not use hotels or B&Bs as properties for this purpose for more than fourteen days.

In 2017, Scottish Parliament passed an amended version of the UAO (the "UAO 2017"). This provided further protection to those covered by the UAO 2014, with the fourteen-day limit on time spent in hotels and B&Bs being reduced by half, to just a week.

In May 2020, however, legislation was laid before the Scottish Parliament amending the UAO further in light of the COVID-19 outbreak (the "UAO 2020"). The amendments were passed and the duty upon local authorities to provide suitable accommodation was renewed but this time in favour of all those who presented as homeless as opposed to the particular types of household mentioned above.

The amended UAO 2020 does, however, remove the one-week time limit upon homeless people living in hotels and B&Bs as interim accommodation provided by the local authority. Though it should be highlighted that a local authority can only do so where the pandemic has impacted accommodation supply and where to do so would be a last resort solution. The ability of residents to self-isolate is also a condition of the UAO 2020 with restrictions in place on shared bathrooms and kitchens unless circumstances are exceptional.

The UAO 2020 was due to expire on 30 June 2021, but the beginning of May 2021 saw the Scottish Government introduce an extension of three months, with the UAO now remaining in place until 30 September 2021.

Although perhaps a positive development on the surface, there is concern among councils and charities that temporary accommodation capacity will continue to become more limited as a result, and criticism that the legislation itself does not go far enough to protect the rights of homeless people, with many hotels and B&Bs used under the UAO 2020 being substandard.

Should you wish further information please contact Fiona McLeod or your usual Brodies contact.


Fiona McLeod

Legal Director

Martha Speed

Trainee Solicitor