Housing support for young parents
Housing is a big issue in the UK, especially in bigger cities such as London.
This may mean that finding housing for young mums and dads is a little more difficult than in the past, but if you’re patient and open to all the options available, there is a lot of help out there.
A lot of young parents in the UK are placed in temporary accommodation before they are provided with a more permanent room or property, so you may need to be prepared to stay in a hostel, bedsit or parent and baby unit for a while.
If you’re homeless
If you’re homeless and need somewhere to stay urgently, the first thing you should do is to contact the housing department of your local council.
If you’re pregnant or have children, your local council is legally obliged to find you somewhere to stay in an emergency while they assess your situation, even if you are under 18. You don’t have to be sleeping on the street to get help! For more information on emergency housing if you’re homeless, please visit Gov.uk.
The housing charity, Shelter, has some information about how to apply for emergency housing, and they also list other emergency housing options to consider.
Non-emergency housing options for young parents
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay but you’re not homeless (if you want to move out of your parents’ home, for example) you might be able to find a home through your local council if you are over 18, or you can look for a place to rent through a landlord.
Before looking at places to rent it’s a good idea to list what you earn and what you already spend. This will help you to work out what you will realistically spend on bills, food, childcare and other costs that come with living on your own. You will then have a budget for how much money you can afford to spend on rent. The Money Advice Service has useful information on how to work out how much rent you can afford here.
Applying to a local council
You can apply for housing through your local council if you’re over 18. The first thing to do is to choose the council(s) you want to apply to.
You can apply to any council’s waiting list, and you can be on several lists at the same time but each one will have its own rules to decide if you qualify and some will prioritise people who live in the area. Waiting lists may be shorter in some areas.
If you’re not sure which council you live in now, you can search your postcode on the Gov.uk website to find out. It’ll then redirect you to the housing support section of your local council’s website.
Most councils will have application forms on their websites, or you can contact them to request one. If your application is accepted, you will probably be put on a waiting list for housing. Find out more information about how to apply for council housing on Shelter’s website.
If you live with your partner, or are married/in a civil partnership, you can make a joint application and both of you will be assessed to see whether you are eligible for housing.
Applying for help from social services
You should be able to get help on housing from social services if you:
- are under the age of 18
- have a disability
- have been in care in the past
- are homeless
If you have problems dealing with the housing department or social services, you can contact a local advice centre for advice. Shelter have a list of local advice centres to contact.
Applying to a housing association
You can also apply for housing through a housing association. This works in a similar way to local council housing; you can apply to more than one housing association to be put on a waiting list. The housing association will assess your situation and the suitability of their available homes based on your needs.
For more information on housing association homes and how to apply, visit the Gov.uk website here.
Finding a privately rented home
A privately rented home is a house or flat that you rent from a landlord, without the need to apply to a third party such as the council. The landlord will sometimes use a letting agent as well, who will handle things such as rent or maintenance on behalf of the landlord.
The first thing to do to find a rented home is decide where you want to live. Keep in mind that the rent for different properties will depend on the location (some areas are more expensive to live in than others, and you normally pay more rent if you live near a train station, for example).
Property search sites such as Rightmove or Zoopla usually list houses or flats that are rented through a letting agent. Private rental search sites such as SpareRoom will usually include more houses or flats that are rented directly through a landlord without an estate agent.
There are a few things to consider when renting your own home:
- Safety: Always consider your safety when going to view houses or flats to rent. Find out who will be meeting you beforehand, and ask someone you trust to come with you. If this isn’t possible, leave details of where you’re going with someone you trust and arrange to contact someone when you are finished. Spareroom has more advice on keeping safe while you view properties here.
- Signing a contract: You should always have a contract (also known as a tenancy agreement) that is signed by you and your landlord when you rent a property, whether through a letting agent or directly through a landlord. This will include things like the rent you will pay, when it’s due, the deposit that is required and who is responsible for paying bills and handling repairs. The Gov.uk website includes lots of information about tenancy agreements and what you can expect here.
- Your rights as a private tenant: Your landlord is required by law to provide you with a safe place to live that is in a good state. As a tenant, you have responsibilities required by law as well. Find out more about your rights and responsibilities as a private tenant here.
Financial help with housing for young parents
If you’re on a low income, or do not work, you may qualify for housing benefits to help you pay the rent. There are a lot of restrictions, so visit Gov.uk to see if you qualify for help.
Local housing allowance for under-35s
As a young person under the age of 35, you may be able to apply for local housing allowance if you rent through a landlord or letting agent. This will apply while you are pregnant, but other rules will apply once you have children. Find out more about local housing allowance from the Shelter website.
Financial support for care leavers
If you’ve been looked after by social services in the past, you may be able to apply for long-term financial support. Find out more at the Shelter website here.
If you need more advice on benefits and housing, use Shelter’s directory to find a local advice centre.