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National Homeless Advice Service

Access to housing and support for 18 to 25 year olds

Whether there is a duty to provide accommodation to a homeless young person who is 18 and over will depend on whether they are in priority need.

Homelessness duties to young people aged 18 to 25

Young people who are aged over 18 do not automatically have a priority need for accommodation (see below). They can make a homeless application and, under section 184 of the Housing Act 1996, the housing department must make inquiries to see what duty they owe the applicant. See:

If there is a reason to believe that the applicant is homeless, eligible for assistance (ie they meet the immigration and residence conditions) and is in a priority need category, the housing department must secure interim emergency accommodation. The authority must then try to ‘relieve’ the young person’s homelessness. If this is unsuccessful, and if the the young person is not found to be ‘intentionally homeless’, there may be a duty to provide longer term accommodation. See Dealing with intentional homelessness decisions if a young person is found intentionally homeless.

If a young person who is eligible for assistance is at risk of becoming homeless within the next 56 days, the housing department must take steps to prevent them becoming homeless.

Accommodation provided to young people pending and after a decision on a homelessness application can be in the private rented sector.

Note that children’s services have no duty towards young people aged 18 to 25 who were not previously in the care of the local authority, but they do have duties to care leavers. See Local authority duties to care leavers for details.

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Priority need categories

Only young people with a priority need for accommodation must be provided with any accommodation by the housing department following a homeless application.

A young person aged 18 to 25 will have a priority need if they:

• are pregnant

• have a dependent child who lives with them, or would do if they weren’t homeless

They may also have a priority need if they are vulnerable because they have:

• a physical disability or serious health problem

• mental health problems or a learning disability

• been in the armed forces or prison

• been in care and are over 20

• left their previous accommodation due to violence or threats of violence

A young person aged 18, 19 or 20 will have a priority need if they were looked after by Children’s Services, even for one day, when they were aged 16 or 17 (this does not apply if they are a full-time student in higher or further education whose accommodation is not available during the holidays).

For more information, including what it means to be legally ‘vulnerable’, see the page priority need.

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Preventing and relieving homelessness

If a young person does not fall into a priority need category, there is no statutory duty to accommodate them.

However, housing authorities have a statutory duty to take steps to prevent homelessness where a person is threatened with homelessness within 56 days, and to relieve homelessness if the person is already homeless. Before steps are taken, the housing department should work with the young person to draw up a personal housing plan. See the Shelter’s housing advice for more information.

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Applying to the local authority for housing-related support

Local schemes to provide accommodation and support for young people may be available and accessible directly or by referral from a partner agency.

For more information on accessing services, see advice and referrals.

For information on accommodation options in the short-term, see emergency accommodation for 18 to 25 year olds.

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Young people who are not eligible for help

Some young people, such as asylum seekers and newly-arrived migrants, may not be eligible for housing-related support. Further information on housing and homeless rights for migrants is available from the Housing Rights Information website.

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Difficulties in accessing emergency accommodation options

Young people may need additional support to access advice and services - see advice and referrals for further information.

If accommodation provided for a homeless young person is not suitable, they should be advised how to challenge unsuitable accommodation.

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