This article has two central aims. First, it problematises the long-held consensus that homelessness legislation in England operates according to the concept of need and, secondly, it advances an alternative reading and reconceptualisation of homelessness legislation according to the notion of risk. Through examination of the two major sources of current homelessness law, the Housing Act 1996 and the recently enacted Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, this article locates and explores how risk is operationalised, the precise conceptions of risk engaged and the implications and potentiality of this risk reconceptualisation. In so doing, it is argued that risk exhibits a stronger explanatory power of the current homelessness legislation than need and presents opportunities for how we understand local authority decision-making and the shape of future reform.