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Young people and housing

About this information

In this information child means someone aged under 14 and young person means someone aged 14 or over but under 18. Parent means someone with parental responsibility.

Council tax (England and Wales only)

If you are under the age of 18 you do not pay council tax.

Leaving home voluntarily

In most circumstances you can leave home without the consent of your parents or anyone with parental responsibility when you are 16. A parent or person with parental responsibility could go to court to try and force you to return home. However, it is unlikely that any court would order you to return home if you did not want to.

Being forced to leave home

If you are in conflict with your parents, you may feel you are forced to leave home. The legal position in this situation is complicated.

If you are under 16 and are forced to leave home, you can contact your local authority social services department. They will step in if they become aware of what is happening. The local authority may want to talk to your family to see what services it could provide to enable you to stay at home. If this is not possible, the local authority may try to find a relative to look after you or may offer to accommodate you. If you are at risk of suffering significant harm, the local authority may consider taking you into care.

For more information about local authority services, see Local authority services for children in need.

Renting accommodation

If you're under 18, the law says you aren't allowed to hold a tenancy. However, there are ways that a landlord can work around this. For example, a landlord could grant:

  • a tenancy that will be held on trust for you by a third party such as an adult relative or social worker, until you turn 18, or
  • a joint tenancy if a joint tenant is aged 18 or over.

As an alternative, you could sign an agreement with a landlord for a licence, which is different from a tenancy. Holding a licence means that you have the landlord's personal permission, rather than a legal right, to stay in the accommodation. You could then be granted a tenancy when you turn 18.

Landlords, including housing associations and local authority housing departments, may require a guarantor before giving a licence to someone under 18. If you move into local authority accommodation after leaving a children’s home, the social services department will often be the guarantor.

If you move into rented accommodation, you may want to claim Housing Benefit. Although there is no age restriction on claiming Housing Benefit, the amount you can get if you are under 35 and have no children is usually restricted.

For information about Housing Benefit, see Help with your rent – Housing Benefit.

If you are getting behind with your rent, in England and Wales, see Rent arrears in Credit and debt fact sheets.

If you need specially adapted accommodation, for example because you are disabled or have a disabled child, you can apply to have your details entered on to one or more Accessible Housing Registers.

For more information about Accessible Housing Registers, see Finding accommodation.

Buying accommodation

If you are under the age of 18, you will not be able to apply for a mortgage to buy accommodation. This is because you cannot own property in your own right although it may be held in trust for you until you come of age.


A local authority has a duty to provide accommodation to a young person who meets the criteria for being homeless.

For more information on young people and homelessness, see Finding accommodation.

A local authority also has a responsibility to look after you under the Children Act if:-

  • no-one has parental responsibility for you; or
  • you are lost or abandoned; or
  • the person who has been caring for you is unable to continue to provide suitable care and accommodation; or
  • you are aged 16 or 17 and the local authority considers your welfare would be seriously threatened if it does not provide accommodation.

These rules also apply to asylum seekers.

If you don't understand English, the local authority must provide help and information in your own language.

If you are given accommodation in a children's home, the care you get must take into account your religious needs. For example, if you are Muslim, you should be offered Halal food.

For more information on local authority services, see Local authority services for children in need.

If you become homeless you may need to seek specialist advice, for example, from a Citizens Advice Bureau or from Shelter (see under heading Further help). To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.


It's unlawful for someone who is providing you with accommodation to discriminate against you because of disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

For more information about discrimination, see our pages on Discrimination.

Further help

Shelter (in England)

88 Old Street
London EC1V 9HU
Tel: 020 7505 2000
Freephone helpline: 0808 800 4444 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm weekends, 365 days a year)

Shelter Cymru (in Wales)

25 Walter Road
Tel: 01792 469400
Support line: 0845 075 5005

Shelter provides information and advice on housing issues.

Housing Rights Service (Northern Ireland)

Middleton Buildings
10-12 High Street
Tel: 028 9024 5640
Fax: 028 9031 2200

The Housing Rights Service website has pages specially aimed at young people between the ages of 16 and 25. These cover a range of housing problems. There is also a free email advice service for young people aged 16-25. You can access this through the website.

Who Cares Trust

Kemp House
152-160 City Road
London EC1V 2NP
Tel: 020 7251 3117 (admin)

The Trust provides information and advice for young people in care or those who have recently left care.


Foyers provide temporary hostel accommodation for young people, mostly aged 16-25, who are homeless or in housing need.

Foyer residents are also offered guidance, support, access to learning and help with finding work.

The average length of stay in a foyer is between nine and twelve months.

If you want to stay in a foyer, you can contact the nearest one to you and ask for an interview, or you can ask another agency such as your local housing authority, probation service or care home to refer you.

Some Foyers will only accept young people who have been referred by their local housing authority.

To find details of your nearest foyer, contact:

The Foyer Federation
3rd Floor
5-9 Hatton Wall
London EC1N 8HX
Tel: 020 7430 2212

Further information for young people

You can find more information on housing on The Mix website.

For information about the general rights of children and young people, see Young people's rights.
For information about employment, see Young people and employment.
For information about family matters, see Young people and family.
For information about money and consumer rights, see Young people – money and consumer rights.
For information about benefits, see Young people and benefits.
For information about health and personal issues, see Young people – health and personal.
For information about the law and young people, see Young people and the law.
For information about transport, see Young people – travel and transport.

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