Worried about a young person?
What do I need to know?
A young person may display subtle signs of being at risk of losing their home.
A young person, over the age of 16 and living with their parents, has no legal right to stay in the family home if his or her parents ask them to leave.
A young person staying with friends, or ‘sofa surfing’, is likely to have no legal right to stay if asked to leave.
A young person doesn’t have to be sleeping on the streets to be considered homeless.
Even if they have a legal right to live in their accommodation, it might not be reasonable for them to remain there and their local council should provide help.
Find Out More
A young person may not want to talk openly about their problems, but there are often signs that can alert you to a potential housing issue.
Some of these signs include:
- a recent relationship breakdown
- recently coming out to their friends or family
- struggling with money
- living in poor housing conditions
- struggling with their mental or physical health
- difficulty finding a place to live
- changes to their work pattern, or looking for new employment
- changes in the law or benefit system that may have impacted on them
- a change in their household, such as a new member of the family, a bereavement or a new step parent.
There might be ways you can help prevent a young person losing their home.
For example, if they are :
- in rented accommodation and being asked to leave, they may be able to negotiate with the landlord
- in rent arrears, they may be able to come to a repayment agreement with their landlord. In certain circumstances they may be able to get extra help with payment of their rent , above anything they already receive in housing benefit or universal credit housing costs
- asked to leave because their landlord is unhappy with their behaviour, they could ask for time to put things right
- staying with friends or relatives, they could ask if they can stay for a bit longer while they try to find somewhere else to live.
By getting the right advice early on, you might be able to prevent them from becoming homeless.
Some young people lose their accommodation because of a relationship breakdown. If they were living with parents who want them out, then their only option might be to talk things through. It might be easier to sort out the issues with the help of a trained mediator.
If there has been a relationship breakdown with a partner, they will not have automatic rights over an ex’s accommodation. If they are married, have a civil partnership or children together then they might have rights over the other partner’s accommodation.
If a young person is in immediate danger or has been abused, encourage them to report the matter to the police. You can also contact Live Fear Free helpline if you are concerned about a young person who may have experienced domestic abuse or sexual violence.
There are a number of support services that can be accessed for help, search our Wales wide Support Near You tool to find an appropriate service.
In some situations a young person may have no option but to leave home in a hurry. Perhaps because of abuse or threats within the home or harassment from a landlord. Encourage them to take essential items with them, to help with this you can download our leaving home in a hurry checklist to the right of this page.
If a young person has nowhere to stay, or cannot continue to live where they are, the council’s homelessness department may have a duty to help. Remember, a young person doesn’t have to be sleeping on the streets to get help.
The young person needs to contact their local council and ask to make a homelessness application. You can do this on their behalf if necessary. The help that they can get if they are homeless or threatened with homelessness will depend on their particular circumstances. A council must accept an application from any person over the age of 16 who appears to be homeless or is likely to become homeless within the next 56 days.
Take a look at our step-by-step guide to making a homelessness application.
Those who are under 16, disabled or have been in care in the past, should be referred to Social Services who should carry out an assessment of their needs. Social Services can work with the housing department to help the young person.
In urgent cases, where the young person has nowhere to stay the council may have to provide emergency accommodation whilst they assess their application.
The most important consideration for the young person is whether they can afford a place of their own.
They will need to work out what, if any, benefits they are entitled to. Use Entitled to calculator to see what they could be eligible for.
Encourage them to draw up a budget. This will help them to work out what they can afford, and to think through all the practicalities of setting up a new home.
There are other things to consider too, such as who to rent from. Read our Setting up your first home page for more tips and to download a budget sheet to work out costs of renting a place.
If they have found a place that they wish to rent, its important that they understand their rights and obligations as a contract holder. An occupation contract is a legally binding contract, it is important to know what they are signing. You can find out more about tenancy agreements here .
Sometimes a young person wishes to leave home but still needs support to help them live independently – it may be that supported housing is an option for them. The type of supported housing that will be suitable for them will depend upon their needs.
The first step should always be the council’s housing department. If the council won’t help, then call Shelter Cymru advice line for help.
If the young person finds themselves sleeping on the streets, make sure that they are safe. Contact Streetlink who will help to connect the young person with services in their area.
You can read more about sleeping on the streets and what help is available, here.
Llamau also provide a youth homelessness helpline for advice and support.
Use the Support Near You tool to find other services that might be able to help.
There are a number of resources available:
The Right Track Pack is a youth practitioners guide to housing and homelessness. It contains information on a range of housing issues faced by young people.It provides practical, basic information and guidance.
Our Education Project provides free resources to schools and youth work professional.