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Experiences of unsuitable temporary accommodation in Scotland (2018)

This report highlights the experience of people in the seven Scottish council areas with the highest use of UTA (Edinburgh, East Lothian, Glasgow, Midlothian, East Dunbartonshire, Aberdeenshire and Highland). Based on a survey of 109 people, the majority (74) had experience of UTA, primarily B&B or hotels.

The report looks in detail at how long people spend in UTA in each council area and the reasons why people move on from UTA before permanent housing is found. It also details the difficult conditions people experience in UTA and how prolonged stays in it make them feel. Furthermore, it shows how these how experiences can make it harder for them to end their homelessness.

 Key findings

Living an everyday life  

  • 60 per centof people were subject to a curfew 
  • 3 in 4 people said they were not allowed visits from family or friends 
  • 81 per cent of people with restrictions on visitors found their relationships had worsened 
  • Pets were prohibited for84 per centof respondents 
  • 45 per cent of people said they had no access to a kitchen with over half of this number saying this meant they regularly skip a meal. 
  • Almost half – 47 per cent - had not access to laundry facilities

Feeling safe and well 

  • 84 per centof respondents stated that they sometimes or often felt isolatedbecause of their living situation 
  • Over half reported feeling unsafe with many saying that the anti-social – and, at times, criminal – behaviour of other residents contributed to this unease 
  • 6out of 10people said living in unsuitable temporary accommodation had a negative impact on their drug or alcohol use 
  • 88 per cent of respondents reported experiencing depression 

Planning for the future  

  • 9 out of 10 people surveyed who had spent time in unsuitable temporary accommodation said they felt their future was uncertain 
  • 4 out of 10 said that being in UTA had negatively impacted their ability to look for work. 

The report makes several recommendations:

  • Legal reform is crucial. As a priority, Scottish Government should amend the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order in this parliamentary calendar (2018-19) to end the use of UTA for more than seven days for any homeless household.   
  • Local authorities must develop plans to meet the legislative requirements, rapidly rehouse homeless households and prevent homelessness whenever possible, so that unsuitable temporary accommodation is only ever used in emergency situations.   
  • Local authorities must urgently ensure that people housed in UTA receive proactive support to enable them to move on with their lives. 


Sanders, B. with Reid, B. (2018) ‘I won’t last long in here’: Experiences of unsuitable temporary accommodation in Scotland. London: Crisis.