I’m pregnant – how can I get somewhere to live?

I'm 17 and pregnant. I live with my parents at the moment but there won’t be enough room in the house when the baby arrives. How do I go about getting somewhere to live?

Congratulations on your pregnancy. Working outwhere to live when you’re expecting a baby can be quite stressful, but you do have options.

Your housing options partly depend on if you are ‘homeless’ or not. You can apply as homeless if you are on the streets or have somewhere to live that isn’t suitable. In your situation, this might not be clear-cut. If your parents tell you to leave, you would be homeless. If the home is so overcrowded it’s unreasonable to continue living there, you might be considered homeless. But the levels of overcrowding may need to be very severe before your home was considered unsuitable.

If you are considered to be homeless by the council, it may have a duty to provide you with somewhere to live. To find out you’ll need to make a homeless application to the housing department of your local council. Making a homeless application can be quite complicated and it would be a good idea to get advice from your local CAB or housing aid centre before you do.

If the council decide you are classed as homeless, it will then decide if you’re in a priority need category; most young people aged 16 and 17 are. There are exceptions for those who are not eligible due to immigration status or those who have been in care. If you’ve been in care, social services might have the responsibility for helping you. Even if you’ve not been in care, they have a duty to help you if your health and welfare could suffer because of your homelessness.

If the council decide you’re not homeless, it must give you advice and information about your housing options. It must also give you a written decision telling you why it hasn’t found you homeless. If you disagree with their decision you can seek a review within 21 days. If the council decide you are homeless, in a priority need category and haven’t made yourself homeless deliberately, then it should find secure housing for you.

If you are not homeless there are other options you can investigate to find somewhere to live. For example, you can apply directly to the council to go on the council waiting list. If you do this, it’s important you tell the council as much as possible about your situation, including the fact you’re pregnant, and how many people live in your home at the moment.

Another option could be private rented housing but most landlords will not grant a tenancy to anyone under 18. This is because you can’t legally hold a tenancy until you are 18. But there are ways round this. Someone can hold the tenancy on trust for you until you are 18. This can be the landlord or another adult, such as a social worker if you have one. In addition a landlord may require a guarantor, who would be liable for the rent if you failed to pay it.

If you decide to rent privately you’ll need money up front to pay for rent in advance and a deposit. To find a property you can try estate agents/lettings agencies or advertisements in local newspapers. But remember, if you use an agency they might charge fees for things such as references and administration charges.

Finally, when you find somewhere to rent, you may be eligible for housing benefit. This helps pay the rent but restrictions to the amount paid could be made. For more information about housing benefit and other benefits you may be entitled to you should visit your local CAB.

Answered by Shelter on 06-Mar-2014

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