16 to 17 year olds


The homelessness rules for 16 or 17 year olds with nowhere to stay are slightly different, there are different steps you need to take.

If you’re over the age of 18 speak to someone at your local authority’s housing department. They may be able to assist with housing or just provide advice, depending on your circumstances. If you are aged between 18 and 20 and became homeless after leaving care, you have an automatic priority need for housing. Please refer to our web page ‘Homelessness.

Who to approach?

Social Services

Your local authority’s social services’ will be able to assist you, by finding you a safe and temporary place to stay while they work out what help you require. You should visit the local authority and ask to speak to the duty social worker.

Checks will be carried out to see if you are able to return home, but if you don’t feel safe to go back home they cannot force you to go. Help and support will be provided under the following circumstances:

  • You are not able to return home and you have nowhere else to live

  • Another family or friends you have been staying with have now asked you to leave

  • Your home is unsafe. You may be at risk of violence or abuse if you go back

Local authority’s housing department

You can approach the housing department within your local authority for assistance. They must:

  • Provide you with emergency accommodation if it is required

  • Make an assessment of your situation and draw up a personal housing plan suitable for your needs

  • Refer you to social services, as a 'child in need' assessment will be required

  • Be satisfied that you meet immigration and residence conditions (they may not be able to help if not, but should advise you of your options)

Available accommodation

Safe and available accommodation which the local authority may find for you may be one of the following:

  • Within a hostel or foyer

  • Placed in foster care

  • A shared house with other young people

  • At a volunteer's home, via a scheme called Nightstop

You should be aware of the following:

  • Even in an emergency you should not be housed in a bed and breakfast establishment if you are 16 or 17

  • You should accept any offer of accommodation even if you don’t want to stay there. You may not be entitled to any further help if you don’t

  • You should not be in a situation where you are left with nowhere to stay if you're under 18 and homeless

Benefits and help with benefits

You will usually receive help with your rent and living costs from social services. You are not normally entitled to benefits as well if this is the case.

You are sometimes entitled to claim benefits if you are living away from your parents because you’re at risk or estranged from them.

13 week rule

If you are 16 or 17 you are classed as being ‘in care’ when social services are providing you with accommodation because you are homeless.

After 13 weeks of being in care, social services should continue to give you advice and support under a 'pathway plan' up until your 25th birthday. This may also include providing you with accommodation during holidays if you go to university.

Help for under 16's

If you are under the age of 16, you should visit your local authority and ask to speak to children's services. They will normally try to help you find a way to stay at home if possible and if it is safe to do so. If this isn't possible, Children’s Services will find a temporary place for you to stay. This might be in foster care, for example.


https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council for where to locate your local authority.

www.turn2us.org.uk to use the benefits checker to see what benefits you may be entitled to.

www.shelter.org.uk for further advice from a housing specialist offering Legal Aid

www.nightstop.org.uk preventing homelessness through community housing