You may be homeless if you live in unsuitable housing, don't have rights to stay where you are or you're sleeping rough. Find out about help if you're homeless.
Homeless even if you have a place to stay
Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless, if you don't have any rights to stay where you live or your home is unsuitable due to severe overcrowding or other reasons.
Even if you have a home, you could be considered homeless if you live in very overcrowded conditions or in poor conditions that affect your health, or you're at risk of violence or abuse in your home.
You may also be considered to be homeless if you:
- live somewhere where you have no legal right to stay, such as a squat
- live in a home you can't afford to pay for without depriving yourself of basic essentials
- are forced to live apart from your family or someone you would normally live with because your accommodation isn't suitable
Who is affected by homelessness
Homelessness affects a wide variety of people, but some people may be more vulnerable to homelessness because they have particular needs.
You may have limited housing rights or be less able to cope by yourself if you are:
- a young person leaving home for the first time or leaving care
- an offender leaving prison
- pregnant, with nowhere to stay when the baby comes
- responsible for bringing up children
- claiming benefits or living on a low income
- affected by housing benefit cuts
- an asylum seeker, refugee or person from abroad
Reasons why people are homeless
You could become homeless for many different reasons. These could include:
- being evicted because of rent arrears caused by money problems
- the breakdown of your relationship with your partner, parents or family
- having to leave because of domestic violence or abuse
- illegal eviction or harassment by a landlord
- a disaster such as a fire or flooding.
Help for homeless people
You may be able to get help from a local council if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness. Local councils have a legal duty to help some people, but not everyone gets help with housing. Some people can only get help with advice on finding a home.
Social services at a local council may help some people if the housing department of a council can't or won't help. This may happen if a council decides a family is intentionally homeless or a person is disabled or frail.
Some charities for the homeless may be able to help if you are single (or a couple without children) or a young person. Some provide temporary emergency accommodation such as nightshelters or hostels, or practical help in day centres.
A local church or charity may also be able to help with basics like food and clothing through day centres, soup kitchens and soup runs.
Use the Social Care Information search to find local help and advice if you need health or social care.
Get advice if you are homeless or at risk
Get advice as soon as possible if you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless.
An adviser might be able to help you find a way to stay in your home, find a new home more quickly or to get help from your local council.
You can also contact your local council or a local advice centre.
Call our free national helpline to get advice from Shelter.
Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.
Contact Civil Legal Advice if you are homeless or may soon be homeless. You may be able to get help from a legal adviser if you qualify for legal aid. Be prepared to answer questions about your income and savings so the helpline adviser can tell you if you qualify.