Family problems and leaving home

Leaving home is a big step, but moving out is easier if you make some preparations before you go.

Don't rush out the door

Don't feel you have to move before you're ready. Get advice on what your options might be.

It’s not easy to find and pay for somewhere to live. Think about the practicalities of leaving home and getting your own place, such as rent, bills, doing your own washing and cleaning and so on.

If you know anyone who has recently left home, talk to them about their experiences.

Do you have to leave?

Sometimes your only option may be to leave. Your relationship with your parents could have broken down.

Mediation could help you salvage the relationship with your parents. This is when someone who is not involved in your situation helps you to find a solution. It can be arranged by the council's social services or homelessness department.

You may be asked to leave because of financial difficulties. If you’ve left school your parents might not get any child benefit, and if you’re under 18 you probably won’t get any benefits. Some councils may offer your family short-term help if you're in this situation.

If you are under 18 and at risk of violence or harm if you stay you should apply to social services for help and accommodation.

If you’re 18 or over apply to the council’s homelessness department – but not everyone is entitled to accommodation.

Talk to your family about wanting to leave home

Explain your reasons to your family for wanting to leave home. They may be able to help you find a new home or help you to organise all the things you need to live on your own. They may even be able to help you with a tenancy deposit.

Visit your council's housing options centre to discuss your options.

Find your local council's contact details using the council finder.

Sort out finances and a budget before you leave

Try to work out what kind of accommodation you can realistically afford.

There are also lots of things you need to buy or spend money on when you leave home, like gas, electricity, water, and food bills as well as your rent.

If you are moving to rented accommodation, you probably need to pay a tenancy deposit and a month's rent in advance. You may need to buy furniture or other household goods for your home.

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.

If you don't have money for a tenancy deposit, check if there's a rent deposit, rent guarantee or bond scheme that can help.

Can you get benefits?

You may be entitled to financial help called housing benefit or help with housing costs under universal credit  to help pay for a place to live, There are restrictions on how much money you could get. Some people aged under 22 can’t get any help to pay the rent.

Most 16 and 17-year-olds only get jobseeker’s allowance or universal credit in limited circumstances. But if you are homeless you should be able to get accommodation and financial help from social services.

Try to find somewhere to live before you leave home

Try to find new accommodation to move into before you leave home. You may think you can sleep on a friend's sofa until you get sorted, but finding somewhere to live could take longer than you think and it's not a great feeling to think that you're getting in people's way.

Think about what sort of place you want, can afford and who you want to live with. This could be friends, people you haven't met before or your partner.

What you'll need for your new home

Depending on the kind of place you are moving into, you may need a lot of things for your home, such as a TV, bedding, a kettle and other household items. Ask your friends and family if they have any of these things to spare.

You can also try:

  • second-hand shops
  • charity shops
  • furniture projects
  • car-boot sales
  • jumble sales
  • adverts in the local paper
  • adverts in supermarkets and newsagents

You may find some bargains and it's likely to be much cheaper than buying everything new.

A furniture project could help you with furniture for your new home if you claim benefits or have a low income. You will usually need to be referred by the council, local CAB or other organisation.

Many landlords provide a detailed inventory of everything that comes with your new home. This makes it easier to avoid problems getting back your deposit when you leave.

Can parents kick a 16-year-old out of their home?

Once you are 16 years old, if your parents ask you to leave, you probably have to go.

If you're under the age of 16, your parents have a legal responsibility to look after you and make sure you have somewhere safe to stay. Otherwise you can get help from social services. However, if you are not getting on with them, they may make you leave anyway.

Get advice immediately if you find yourself in this situation.

Last updated 21 Oct 2014 | © Shelter

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