Definition of homelessness

Someone is homeless under section 24 of the 1987 Act if (s)he has no accommodation in the United Kingdom or elsewhere which (s)he (together with any person who normally lives with the applicant) is entitled or permitted to occupy in one of the following ways:

  • has a right to occupy because of a legal interest (for example as an owner or tenant), or because of a court order;
  • has a right or permission to occupy (for example as a lodger or an employee with a service occupancy); or
  • has some protection given by law. The person may have a positive right to occupy the accommodation, or may be protected only by a restriction on another person's right to repossess the accommodation.

We will consider them to be threatened with homelessness if they are likely to become homeless within the next 2 months. This may be because:

  • they have been taken to court by their landlord and the court has said they must leave.
  • they have been living with friends or relatives who have told them to leave.

A person is also homeless if either

They have accommodation but it is unreasonable for them to continue to live there because –

  1. the accommodation is below tolerable standard (a specific test of unfitness).
  2. the accommodation which is not considered to be long-term.
  3. there is external violence (which includes racially motivated violence and harassment).
  4. continued occupation poses a substantial risk to physical or mental health.
  5. the accommodation is impractical due to the applicant’s physical infirmities.

They have accommodation but cannot use it because –

  1. they cannot enter it.
  2. living there is likely to involve actual or threatened violence.
  3. it is overcrowded and may endanger health.
  4. it is mobile and they have nowhere to place or live in it.

Wherever possible evidence of homelessness or the threat of homelessness needs to be provided, through, for example, providing a copy of the notice to quit received or notification from mortgage lender that they are going for possession.