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National Homeless Advice Service

Accommodation and support options: what are the issues?

Providing accommodation and support to young people in housing need is rarely straightforward. Most local authorities will have to prioritise the help they can provide, and not all young people will be eligible, or able or willing, to access services. Some accommodation provided may also be unsuitable.

Issues faced by young people

Issues faced by young people trying to access housing and support when homeless can include:

  • the failure of one department to inform another of the outcomes of assessments
  • the failure to follow statutory guidance on completing assessments
  • problems with information-sharing
  • limited local authority resources
  • lack of suitable temporary accommodation and a lack of supported accommodation projects - there may be too few accommodation spaces or any available accommodation is inappropriate or too far away from a young person’s existing support networks
  • costs of supported accommodation may make them too expensive for young people in further education or training
  • lack of access to any support other than accommodation, this is particularly an issue for young people who lack basic independent life skills and require support to achieve successful independence
  • reluctance of landlord to rent to young people - those under the age of 18 cannot legally hold a tenancy (although they can hold a licence), and older young people are perceived as being too risky in terms of behaviour and the possibility of rent arrears and tenancy failure
  • lack of access to benefits, education and work advice
  • lack of access to support for problems that caused their homelessness, such as mental health or drug and alcohol issues, relationship breakdown, debts and rent arrears.

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Barriers to access

Many young people will face difficulties in accessing and retaining suitable accommodation and support options. This will include:

  • reluctance of some private sector landlords to accept tenants who pay their rent with housing benefit
  • insufficient resources to pay letting agent/landlord fees
  • insufficient resources to pay for deposits and rent in advance
  • lack of appropriate support to sustain their tenancies
  • previous rent arrears with housing providers
  • eligibility for a tenancy due to anti-social and offending behaviour
  • a shortage of available and affordable housing
  • benefit restrictions.

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Overcoming barriers to access

Young people can be helped to overcome barriers to accessing housing support through schemes to support tenants in their new homes.

Financial support

Young people may also be able to access financial support, for example from homelessness prevention funds, which help overcome immediate or short-term housing crisis issues such as rent arrears.

Access schemes

For more information on schemes to help young people start renting, see the sections on the private rented sector and the social rented sector.

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