Young people looking for a place to live
If you're thinking of leaving home, there's a lot to consider. Much depends on whether you're over or under 16 years old.
Young people under 16 leaving home
If you’re under 16 years old your parents are legally responsible for your care. You can only leave home if your parents agree and if they have made adequate arrangements for your care, such as a safe place to live, clothing, food, education and medical care.
If your parents are worried about you they can apply to the Family Court to have you put under the guardianship of the Court. This means the Court can make all major decisions for you until you are 18 years old. However, even if this happens, the Court will only make decisions about where you live if there are really good reasons for doing so.
If you're not safe
If you're not safe or are being neglected at home, for example if an adult is hurting you, or you're being bullied at school, it's hard to know what to do. If you're having problems at home, talk to an adult you trust. This might include a guidance counsellor at school, or the Police. If you have no one you can speak to, the agencies and organisations below can help you.
If you have an emergency housing need, such as nowhere to stay tonight, please call 0800 559 009 as we may be able to help, and refer you to local services.
A helpline just for kids and teens. You can talk to counsellors who will listen to any worries or problems you have by calling 0800 942 8787.
Child, Youth and Family
If you're worried about your family, you can contact Child, Youth and Family. Call 0508 326 459 to talk to a trained social worker. They will be able to listen to you, and then work out what kind of help your family might need.
You can phone Youthline on 0800 376 633 and talk to a trained Youthline counsellor.
Young people over 16 who need a home
Leaving home means more independence and more freedom. It also means you need to be responsible for looking after yourself. You will have to find a place to live, learn how to manage on your own and start supporting yourself financially.
Before you leave
Before you leave, you should:
- talk with your family about the move
- sort out your finances and prepare a budget
- organise somewhere to live.
What you need
Being responsible means making sure you have the things you need to live away from home. Make sure you take:
- your passport or birth certificate
- your driver licence
- medication or personal items like glasses or inhalers
- bank debit and credit cards
- personal belongings such as clothing
- address book or mobile phone.
If you're under 18 you can enter into a legally enforceable tenancy agreement if you are, or have been, married or in a civil union.
If you're 16 or 17 and have never been married or in a civil union, you'll need to get approval from the Tenancy Tribunal or a District Court for the tenancy agreement to be legally enforceable.
To find out more, phone the Tenancy Tribunal on 0800 836 262.
Advice about living in your first home
Care Café is a network where you can share advice and tips with other young people about flatting, and living on your own for the first time.
Help with housing costs
You'll need money for board or rent, bond, power, phone, food and travel costs. If you don't have a job or money you will need to check if you can claim any benefits.
Youth Service provides help to young people who are in need of financial assistance. This includes Youth Payment to young people aged 16 or 17 who don't have dependent children, and Young Parent Payment to young people aged 16 to 18 with dependent children. However there are a number of things you must do to get these payments.
What are your rights?
Youth Law Advice Line is a free community law centre for children and young people nationwide. They provide free legal services to anyone aged under 25 years old who are unable to access legal help elsewhere. Call 0800 884 529.