Family problems and leaving home

Leaving home is a big step, but moving out is easier if you make some plans first.

When you can leave home

Once you’re over 16, you can choose to leave home if you want to. 

Don’t rush out the door – living on your own can be really challenging. It can also be more difficult to get a place of your own before you’re 18.

If you’re under 16 and can no longer live at home, speak to someone who can help. You could contact Childline about any problems you’re having with your parents or carers.

Your parents can’t legally tell you to leave home until your 16th birthday.

If you have to leave

If things have got so bad that you can’t stay at home, decide where you’re going to live and how you’ll support yourself before you leave.

Get help to stay at home

You might be able to get support to help you stay at home. Contact social services at your local council about finding a mediator. This is an independent person who encourages you and your family to talk through your problems.

If you’re being asked to leave because of money worries, your family might be able to get short-term financial help from a local hardship fund or welfare assistance scheme.

Sort out your finances

Normally you can claim universal credit to help you pay your rent. In limited circumstances you may have to claim housing benefit instead.

If you are under 18 years old, there are restrictions on getting some benefits, including universal credit.

Use EntitledTo's benefits calculator to see what you could be eligible for.

If you need help with the costs of finding somewhere to live – such as money for a tenancy deposit – check if there’s a rent deposit, rent guarantee or bond scheme in your area.

Many private landlords will only rent to a young person if they have a guarantor. A guarantor is someone, usually a parent, who will have to pay the rent if you don’t.

Find furniture

Ask your friends and family if they have things like furniture and household items going spare. You could also try:

  • second-hand and charity shops
  • jumble sales
  • placing ads in shop windows
  • websites such as Gumtree and Freecycle

You could also contact the council or your local Citizens Advice for the details of any organisations that could help you with furniture.

Help if you’re homeless

You can ask the council for help if you're homeless.

16 or 17

If you’re homeless and aged 16 or 17, you'll need to apply to social services for help. They could find you a place in a hostel, foyer, shared house or find you a foster carer. You should be given accommodation and some financial support while they work out the best way to help you.

18 or over

If you’re homeless and aged 18 or over, contact your local council’s housing department to make a homelessness application. Even if you don’t qualify for accommodation, you should get a personal housing plan with advice on how to find somewhere suitable.

Need more help?

Get help from a Shelter adviser if you need to speak to someone.


Last updated 17 Jan 2019 | © Shelter

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