Everyone has the right to live somewhere safe and be protected from the elements.
There comes a time when we all want to leave home. Some of us feel the need to spread our wings and strike out on our own or find a home with a partner. Some of us might need to live independently if we take up a place at university or find a job away from home.
You might feel that having your own space, keeping your own hours and being your own boss is better than living with your parents, but remember that you'll also be responsible for your rent and bills, cleaning up after yourself and household chores such as laundry and ironing.
If you feel unsafe or unwelcome in your home environment or have an argument with a parent or other family member, you might feel upset, but leaving home may not be the best thing for you.
Nowhere to sleep?
If you are a young person that has nowhere to live or sleep you can get help from your local authority housing or social services department. Sleeping rough is not to be recommended - you will face many threats to your health and personal safety, including physical assault. You'll have difficulty finding food and drink, keeping yourself clean and accessing healthcare.
The Homelessness Act (2002) gives priority to young people who are homeless and local councils must provide all the help they can.
The Children Act (1989) applies if you are 16 or 17, or under 21 and have been in local authority care. It places a duty on social services to help you find accommodation if you can demonstrate that you have become homeless as a result of a direct threat to your well-being, such as leaving home to avoid physical or sexual abuse. If you think this applies to you, you should contact your local social services department and ask for an interview.
The Housing Act (1996) places a duty on local authorities to help people who are homeless, providing that they meet certain conditions:
- You didn't become homeless intentionally
- You have a connection with the local area
- You don't have any alternative accommodation
To find out if you are eligible you should contact your local council's homeless unit.
Nightstop supports a network of accredited services throughout the UK, providing safe emergency accommodation for homeless young people aged 16-25 in the homes of approved volunteer hosts.
If you are a young person aged between 16-25 and are in need of emergency accommodation, Nightstop may be an option for you. Contact Nightstop North East on Telephone 0191 253 6161 or visit the Nightstop website.
Council and Housing Authority Accommodation
Your local council can advise you about the accommodation it can provide. This may include council houses, flats or other accommodation.
Local authority or council houses and flats are owned by your local council. The length of time you can stay in council owned accommodation is normally much longer than you can stay in privately rented accommodation.
The type of accommodation you can get and the length of time you can stay will vary depending on your circumstances.
Your local council's housing department can advise you further.
Private rented houses and flats are owned by private landlords and let to tenants for a weekly or monthly rental charge. This can also include rooms in shared houses or bedsits, Bed and Breakfast accommodation or lodging with a home owner. This type of accommodation is normally less secure than other forms of housing as the tenancy (the length of time you can stay) can be quite short.
The rent for private accommodation is normally higher than that for council or housing association accommodation. You may also have to pay a month's rent in advance. Most private landlords ask for a deposit to cover any damage to the property. This deposit is returnable when you leave. You need to find out what the deposit covers and get a receipt for it.
You also need to check if you are responsible for paying household bills like gas, electricity, water, TV licence and Council Tax. Some landlords might also want to take up references or do a credit check on you.
You will normally sign an agreement for a set period, but you should check how much notice you need to give if you decide to leave before that period is up. Some landlords ask you to pay rent in advance, in case you do leave early.
Do not sign anything until you have read it carefully. Get a friend or parent to go through it with you to make sure there are no hidden charges.
For further information
Home Group are the fifth largest housing association in the the UK and are primarily based in the North East and Newcastle area. Home Group are also one of the largest providers of supported living services in the UK, to help support vulnerable people who have a variety of short term needs, including homelessness and domestic abuse.
Action for Children offers support to the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people in the UK, including information on youth homelessness and accommodation.
Refuge works to help victims overcome many different forms of violence and abuse. The National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Refuge and Women's Aid, can help you access services and find emergency accommodation or a space in a refuge. Call Freephone 0808 2000 247, 24 hours a day.
The Citizens Advice service offers free, confidential, impartial and independent advice with legal problems, including housing and accommodation, debt, consumer issues and benefits.