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National Homeless Advice Service

What the law says

This section looks at specific legal issues underpinning the provision of housing and support services to young people.

Local authorities can also find information about their legal duties in the Commissioning & delivering young peoples services section - see the Making it happen pages within each subsection.


Who is a child in need

Local authorities have a general duty and several specific duties towards children and young people in need and to their families.


Age disputes and age assessments

Sometimes, disputes over the age of unaccompanied and/or undocumented young asylum seekers may arise.


Child in need assessment

In order to determine what is necessary to meet the needs of a young person under 18, local authorities must conduct an assessment of needs. The assessment should be carried out by a social worker from the childrens social services department with inputs from all agencies involved.


Social services duties to 16 and 17 year olds

Any duty owed by a local authority to homeless 16 and 17 year olds under the Children Act 1989 takes precedence over the duties under the homelessness legislation, and the ongoing duty to accommodate and support will normally fall to childrens social services rather than the housing authority.


Social services duties to care leavers

The Children Act 1989 requires local authorities social services to prepare young people for leaving care and for supporting them up to a certain age.


Young peoples wishes

As part of the assessment of needs, a local authority should ascertain and give due consideration to the young persons wishes and feelings regarding the provision of accommodation.


Overview of homelessness law and guidance

Information about the law and the statutory guidance on homelessness.


Housing duties to 16 and 17 year olds

All 16 and 17 year old homeless applicants must be accepted as in priority need, except for an applicant who is a relevant child, or a child in need to whom a local authority owes a duty to provide accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989.


Supporting young peoples homelessness applications

Young peoples homelessness applications and how advisers can support a young person in making an application.


Eligibility for assistance

Upon receiving a homelessness application, a housing authority will first investigate into the immigration status and habitual residence of applicants in order to determine whether they are eligible for homelessness assistance.


Priority need

Local authorities will consider homeless applications to determine if a young person has a priority need for accommodation.


Intentional homelessness

What the law says about intentional homelessness, and how advisers can help young people who have been found, or are at risk of being found, intentionally homeless.