Shelter Legal England - Accommodation options for young people and care leavers - Shelter England (2023)

Temporary and permanent housing options for young people and financial assistance that enables them to access and pay for housing.

Housing problems of young people

It can be difficult for young people to find a place to live. Private landlords may be reluctant to rent to younger people, particularly if they are claiming welfare benefits. Young people may have low incomes and lack of resources, which can make it difficult for them to access and pay for rented private accommodation. There are also special legal issues regarding leases foryoung people up to 18 years old.

In some areas, there are specialized agencies that can help young people find accommodation.

There are good practice guidelines for local authorities on how to complythe housing needs of those leaving care.

Social housing for young people

A young person can apply to any local board for a council house. Councils are no longer obliged to keep records of residential buildings,[1]but in practice most still work. It is not legal for municipalities to have a blanket policy, such as one that excludes all 16- or 17-year-olds or all non-residents of the area from the allocation scheme. The statute defines who is notqualified personfor allocation.[2]

Young people can also apply for housing through a registered local social landlord.

Most housing associations and other registered social landlords require council-listed nominations, but many accept direct approaches.

Private rental apartments for young people

For many young people, private subletting is the first step towards independent living, and private subletting can offer easily accessible accommodation. However, financial barriers can make it difficult to find and maintain private rented accommodation, particularly for young people on benefits.

A popular choice among young people is renting a room in a shared househouse for several people.

Supported housing for young people

There are different types of specialized accommodation for young people.

Supported housing generally provides housing for young people who need a certain level of support to help them transition to independent living. There are also programs for young people with special support needs. There are cluster schemes which consist of a number of independent flats with a support worker available and group houses where tenants have their own rooms and share other facilities. Such programs are often run by housing associations. Lodgings and some hostels are a form of supported housing.

The offer of schemes varies from one area to another.


Foyers offer accommodation related to training and employment. They usually have an age limit of 25 and most need a referral, usually from the local housing authority.

Foyers require residents to sign a contract covering all aspects of their stay, including a commitment to remain involved in education and/or employment for the duration of their stay. They provide professional and peer support to residents. The length of stay is usually up to two years. The lobbies are not suitable for young people with multiple or high support needs.

Young people and their advisors should turn to their ownlocal entranceorlocal housing authorityand ask about the correct escalation process to follow in each case.

The Foyer Federation itself does not own any housing and cannot provide or refer accommodation.


Hostels are usually run by social owners or charities and can often offeremergency accommodation.

There are several emergency hostels and youth direct access hostels. There are hostels that offer accommodation to young people who need support with skills for independent living. There are also special shelters for young people leaving care, many of whom need referrals to social services. Many mixed-age hostels do not accept youth under 18 years of age.

Housing programs for young people

Housing systems track the people who rent a room in your home. Local authorities or voluntary agencies can administer the schemes.

Ex-offenders, people with drug or alcohol problems, or people with mental health problems often find it difficult to get housing through the housing program. Many programs also have difficulty recruiting youth between the ages of 16 and 17. Some schemes may provide low level support.

night stop

There are over 30 overnight accommodation schemes in the UK. Overnight programs allow accommodation in volunteer homes for young people aged 16 to 25 for a maximum of three nights. This emergency arrangement can give the referring agency an opportunity to find suitable long-term accommodation or it can provide time and space to allow families to resolve their difficulties, if this is the reason why the young person has left home.

In general, overnight stops cannot accommodate people with serious psychiatric problems, those who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol when referred, or those with a serious criminal record or recent history of violence, arson or sexual offenses. Additionally, due to the nature of the offer, night stands cannot provide accommodation for minors on bail.

More information is available atUnited Kingdom.

Paying for housing with a housing subsidy and universal credit

A housing subsidy is a means-tested subsidy that is paid as assistance with the costs of renting an apartment.

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit that will replace a number of existing benefits, including Housing Benefit. It includes an element of housing costs that helps pay rent (or mortgage interest payments).

age restrictions

There is no age limit for applying for housing assistance.

Normally an applicant must be 18 or over to claim Universal Credit - there are limited exceptions.[3]

There are significant restrictions on young people claiming any benefits on top of the amount they can get to pay their rent.

For most unmarried claimants under 35 who rent from a private landlord, the maximum amount of housing benefit or housing costs element of Universal Credit payable is limited to:

  • single room rent for applicantsHousing benefit paid according to the old rules

  • shared accommodation ratefor applicants who received housing benefit under local housing benefit rules

  • price of shared accommodation forapplicants for universal credit

Restricted youth can apply for adiscretionary housing paymentfrom local authorities to cover the difference in rent. There is no legal right to this payment.

People leaving care and young people in care

Young people under the age of 18 who have left care and are 'relevant children' under the Care Leavers Act 2000 cannot normally claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. The social service is obliged to pay and/or provide accommodation for them.

Young people accommodated under section 20 are exempt from the rate restrictions on renting a single room or shared accommodation until they reach the age of 22.


Most full-time studentscannot claim housing benefitorhousing costs element of universal credit.

There are exceptions, which are not exactly the same for both fees, but both include students who have a dependent child or are adoptive parents.

Help with rent in advance

The discretionary social fund was abolished in 2013, and community care grants and crisis loans were replaced by the local care system. However, budget loans and budget advances are available.

Locally managed aid

Under a locally managed aid system, each local authority designs its own scheme to help deal with difficulties that cannot be solved by regular income. Requests for assistance are submitted to the local authority.

There is no legal requirement for local authorities to provide a locally managed assistance programme.

Loan and advance calculation

A budget loan or budget advance (for Universal Credit applicants) is an interest-free loan that helps applicants spread the cost of items they cannot afford on their current income.[4]The claimant must claim special benefits for at least 26 weeks. Loans and advances are repaid through deductions from the applicant's income.

Budget credits can be approved for:

  • rent in advance

  • moving costs for new accommodation

  • household furniture and equipment

Applicants must contact their local Jobcentre Plus to apply. More information about loan planning and how to submit an application is available - credit planning.

Children's rights payments

Social services have duties and powers under the Children Act 1989 to help needy children and care leavers to pay for accommodation.

16 or 17 years old

Payment may be made under section 17 of the Children Act to help aa child in needto secure accommodation in the private sector by paying a deposit and rent in advance, or to enable them to cover any shortfall in rent after housing benefit.


Social services have duties and powers to provide financial supportpersons who have left careup to 21 years. This can continue until the young person reaches the age of 25 if they are continuing their education or training.

Deposit and rent guarantee schemes

Young people trying to find accommodation in the private rental sector can find it difficult to raise the money they need for a deposit. In some areas there arerent deposit and guarantee schemesthis might help.

These schemes operate according to different models. Some pay the owner a deposit in cash. Others may 'bail out' the landlord, meaning that the scheme will reimburse the landlord, up to an agreed limit, if the landlord suffers losses due to property damage or non-payment of rent. When a local authority is involved, the program can ensure that Housing Benefit applications are expedited.

Some programs have a list of approved landlords who can offer housing. In other environments, young people have to find an owner themselves. Programs have different eligibility criteria, for example, some have age restrictions and others can only accept people who apply for benefits or have low incomes.

Discretionary housing payments

The local government can approve adiscretionary housing paymentfor a rent deposit (or rent in advance) for a property that the young person has not yet moved into, but only if they are already entitled to housing benefit or the housing cost element of universal credit for their current home.[5]


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