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Local authority housing duties to homeless young people aged 16 and 17

This content applies to England

Local authority duties and powers towards homeless young people and care leavers.


Depending on their particular circumstances, young people aged under 18 (and homeless families with dependent children) may be eligible for assistance from:

Local authority duties to young people and care leavers are set out in the:

  • Children Act 1989 (as amended by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Children and Young Persons Act 2008)
  • Children Act 2004
  • Housing Act 1996 Part 7 (as amended by the Homelessness Act 2002, the Localism Act 2011 and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017)
  • Children and Social Work Act 2017.

Homeless 16 and 17 year olds

Any duty owed to homeless 16- and 17-year-olds under the Children Act 1989 takes precedence over the duties under the homelessness legislation, and the ongoing duty to accommodate and support will normally fall to social services rather than the housing authority.[1] See Homeless 16 and 17 year olds in this section for more information.

For information on how the homelessness department should respond to homeless 16 and 17 year olds, see the page 16 and 17 year olds in the homelessness applications section.

Ineligible migrants

For information on the assistance that a migrant child, either unaccompanied or together with her/his family, who is not eligible for assistance under homeless legislation may be entitled to, see the page Help for ineligible children and families

The other pages in this section look at the duties owed by social services to young people in detail.


The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] R (on the application of G) v Southwark LBC [2009] UKHL 26; para 1.2 Provision of accommodation for 16 and 17 year old young people who may be homeless and/or require accommodation, MHCLG/DfE, April 2018.

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