What is homelessness?

Even if you have a place to live, you can still be homeless. You may be legally classed as homeless if you are:

  • temporarily staying with family or friends
  • staying in a hostel or night shelter
  • living in very overcrowded conditions
  • at risk of violence or abuse in your home
  • living in poor conditions that are affecting your health.

If you are homeless or think you might become homeless, you should contact your local authority as soon as possible.

Getting help

Help from the government

Local authorities may give advice, or provide housing. What they offer will depend on the situation.

To get support:

  • in England, Scotland or Wales, contact your local council – visit gov.uk or find their details in the phone book
  • in Northern Ireland, contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive on 03448 920 900.

If you are at risk of becoming homeless because you are struggling with mortgage payments, you should ask for support. Your local council or the Housing Executive may have schemes to help you.

If you are homeless, you still have the right to claim benefits. Call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00 to find out what you could claim.

Help from other organisations

There are organisations across the UK that can help if you are homeless. They can also help if you are worried about becoming homeless. These include:

The charity Homeless Link has a website where you can search for support near you. This includes advice services, day centres and hostels for homeless people across the UK.

You can also contact Citizens Advice Bureau or call Shelter’s free national housing advice line on 0808 800 4444.

Contact your local council or the Housing Executive as soon as possible. Tell them your situation and ask how they can help you.

Back to Housing costs


If you are renting, you have certain rights and may be able to get help with payments.