What is the definition of homelessness?
The definition of homelessness means not having a home. You don't have to be living on the street to be homeless - even if you have a roof over your head you can still be without a home. This may be because you don't have any rights to stay where you live or your home is unsuitable for you.
What situations mean you are homeless?
You might be defined as homeless if you are:
sleeping on the streets
staying with friends or family
staying in a hostel or bed and breakfast hotel
living in overcrowded conditions
at risk of violence in your home
living in poor conditions that affect your health.
living in a house that is not suitable for you because you are sick or disabled.
If you ask the council for help, it will look into your situation to see if it has a legal responsibility to help you as a homeless person.
You can check the legal definition of homelessness.
Who is affected?
Homelessness affects a wide variety of people. Some groups of people are more likely to become homeless because they have fewer rights, particular needs or are less able to cope by themselves. These include:
people with children
people with physical or mental health problems
people on benefits or low incomes
people leaving care
ex-armed forces personnel
asylum seekers and refugees.
How do people become homeless?
You could become homeless for many reasons. These could include:
being evicted by your landlord
losing your job
harassment by your neighbours
a disaster such as fire or flooding.
How can an adviser help?
If you are homeless, or worried about becoming homeless, you should get advice as early as you can. An adviser might be able to help you find a way to stay in your home, find a new home more quickly or get help from your local council.
Last updated: 9 April 2018
Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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