THE THREE ELEMENTS OF THE ABS HOMELESSNESS DEFINITION
Adequacy of the dwelling
This element covers whether the structure of the dwelling renders it fit for human habitation (including, for renters, that the building is used for the purpose for which it is zoned), and the dwelling has access to basic facilities (such as kitchen facilities and bathroom). For example, whether the dwelling satisfies building codes, does not have quit, improvement or control orders on it, has basic facilities and is not improvised.
If the dwelling is inadequate by lacking in any of the aspects outlined above and the person also lacks accommodation alternatives, the person would be considered to be homeless.
Security of tenure in the dwelling
This element covers a person’s legal right to occupy a dwelling, with stability and security of tenure such as owning (with or without a mortgage) the dwelling and/or land, or renting with a formal lease or similar right that could be enforced by the tenant. This also includes a familial reflected security of tenure, for example, children living with their parents.
The rights that could be enforced by the tenant include informal or verbal agreements ('contracts'), written agreements or evidentiary monetary exchange which establishes a right to occupy which can be enforced through common law and provides the holder with the same residual security of tenure that they would enjoy with a formal lease. This also includes a familial reflected security of tenure, for example, children living with their parents. The security of tenure dimension of this element may take into account the initial term of the lease agreement, or residual period remaining on a fixed term lease, or the notice period required to terminate a right to occupy. An industry standard period of 60 days notice may be sufficient to satisfy the right to occupy. In the case of mobile dwellings, the right to occupy is extended to the land / water site on which it is placed.
Those people who have no tenure or tenure that is short and not extendable would be considered to be homeless if they also lack accommodation alternatives.
Control of, and access to space for social relations
This element covers whether a person or household has control of and access to space so they are able to pursue social relations, have personal (or household) living space, maintain privacy and the household has exclusive access to kitchen facilities and a bathroom.
Those households (or people for those who are living in accommodation such as boarding houses etc) which do not have their own living space that enables them to maintain privacy or do not have exclusive access to kitchen facilities and a bathroom, would, if they also lacked accommodation alternatives, be considered to be homeless.
This page last updated 3 September 2012