I’m 16, can I legally move out of my parents?

I'm 16 years-old and I hate living with my parents because we have so many arguments. I have a full time job and I've seen an advert to rent a room in someone's house - is it legal to just up and go?

Family relationships can be a real headache, and arguing with your parents is horrible. If you aren’t getting on with your parents, you may be able to get help to sort out the problems, such as mediation and counselling. If nothing can be done, you’ll need to think carefully about what housing is available and what you can afford.

If you’re 16 and over you can leave home without your parents’ or carers’ consent. You’re unlikely to be made to go back home unless you are in danger. It’s not usually a good idea to leave home before you’re 18. If you’re feeling desperate, try to get advice before you pack your bags.

If the situation is bad and you need to leave home in a hurry, you may be able to apply as homeless to your local council. This would be the case if you were not safe at home due to violence or abuse. You should seek the help of a Shelter adviser if you’re in this situation. If you do become homeless at 16 or 17 you may be entitled to help with money, housing, education, and training from social services.

You won’t be legally entitled to a tenancy until you turn 18, so you’re likely to have problems finding a place to live. It may be possible to get someone to hold the tenancy ‘on trust’ for you until you turn 18. This can be the landlord or another adult, such as a social worker if you have one. If you’re under 18, a landlord may require a guarantor, who would be liable for the rent if you failed to pay it.

To find somewhere to rent privately, you can try estate agents/lettings agencies or advertisements in local newspapers. Remember, there are lots of extra costs to renting including the tenancy deposit which is usually at least the equivalent to one month’s rent.

Council housing, housing associations and housing co-ops can be cheaper, but in many areas you have to wait a long time to get a place. If you’d like to live somewhere where you can get help and advice, you could try foyers for young people or supported housing.

When you find somewhere to rent, you may be able to claim housing benefit to help pay the rent. If you’re under 35 you will usually only be able to get the average amount for a single room in a shared house in your area on housing benefit. There are exceptions: for example, if you have a child or live with your partner. Other restrictions could be made, for example if the rent is considered too expensive you will have to make up the difference yourself.

If you are studying for GCSEs, A-levels or for other further education qualifications, then you can claim housing benefit until your 19th birthday. Your rights to other benefits would depend upon your personal situation. To talk through your options you could try to find a local advice agency or you could call Shelter’s free housing advice helpline on 0808 800 4444.

Answered by Shelter on 21-May-2014

Next Steps