What is homelessness?

You may be homeless if you’re sleeping rough, don’t have rights to stay where you are or you live in unsuitable housing. Even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless.

What situations mean you are homeless?

You don’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be classed as homeless. You might also be legally homeless if you are:

  • Temporarily staying with friends or family
  • Staying in a hostel or bed and breakfast
  • Living in very overcrowded conditions
  • At risk of violence or abuse in your home
  • Living in poor conditions that affect your health
  • Living somewhere that you have no legal right to stay in (eg. a squat)
  • Living somewhere that you can’t afford to pay for without depriving yourself of basic essentials
  • Forced to live apart from your family, or someone you would normally live with, because your accommodation isn’t suitable.

Who can be homeless?

Anyone can be homeless. However, some groups of people are more vulnerable to homelessness because they have fewer rights, particular needs or are less able to cope by themselves. These include:

  • Young people leaving home for the first time
  • Old people
  • Pregnant women
  • People with children
  • People with physical or mental health problems
  • People on benefits or low incomes
  • People leaving care
  • Ex-prisoners
  • Asylum seekers and refugees
  • People affected by an emergency such as flood or fire.

How do people become homeless?

You could become homeless for many different reasons. These could include:

  • Being evicted by your landlord
  • Losing your job
  • Health problems
  • Relationship problems
  • 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 in touch with your local council.

The council housing department might have to help you if you are homeless, or in danger of losing your home in the next 56 days. What help you are entitled to will depend on your circumstances but in most cases the council will have to provide you with advice and help at an early stage. They may have to help you find a home, or in some situations, help you keep your current home. In other cases, the council may have a duty to make sure you are provided with a home. For more details of what help you can get from the council, click here.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline
0345 075 5005

Email an adviser

If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an advisor
email us

This page was last updated on: January 25, 2018

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.