Housing options for young people

Two 16-year-olds, Nioni Robertson (above right) and Amy-Leigh Sorrie (above left), spent time at the Scottish Government under the Career Ready scheme. As part of this, they visited Shelter Scotland, as well as Wheatley and Hillcrest housing associations to research and write the following housing guide for young people like themselves.

Life can be hard as a young person, especially when you’re looking to find your own home and don’t have the help you need. Here’s what we found out about some of the housing options available to young people and how to run your house.

Age is important

There are different options for you depending on your age. If you are under 16 you won’t be able to apply to rent or buy your own house as you are still considered a child. Once you are 16, you can legally get your own house but if you’re still in education it will take longer as you will still need the support and wouldn’t be bringing in as much money. But when applying for housing make sure you have an income or receiving benefits as the money will be needed for service charges, food, rent etc. Your local council can help.

What if you are homeless?

The different types of accommodation a homeless person might use are as follows;

  • Supported accommodation – this is where you are given a case worker for the time you are in the accommodation to help you with any sort of problems. You can get supported accommodation through your local council.
  • Temporary accommodation – this is provided through your local council until they can find a suitable house for you.
  • Hidden homelessness  – this is where people spend the nights on a friend’s or their family’s sofa.

What if you want to rent?

There are different types of tenancy choices;

  • Social rent – social rented housing is owned by local authorities or private registered providers such as housing associations. The function of it is to provide accommodation that is affordable to people on low incomes.
  • Mid-market rent – Council and housing associations also provide ‘mid-market’ rent homes across Scotland. Mid-market rents are usually lower than rents charged by private landlords but higher than council or housing association rent.
  • Private rent – private rentals are generally provided by private landlords. As a tenant you have the right to occupy the property as your home which can then often roll on until one party ends the tenancy. Private market rents tend to be higher than social rents but can be one of the quickest ways to find accommodation as there is no waiting list.

How do you access these types of tenancies?

  • Social rent – apply for this through your local council, housing association or citizens advice.
  • Mid-market rent – apply for this through housing associations. Some councils also provide ‘mid-market’ rent homes across Scotland.
  • Private rent – Look for places to rent in letting websites. When viewing private rented sector properties, use a “tenant checklist” to ensure you have vital information about the property and the landlord, including that they are registered, have provided an appropriate safety and energy certificate, have installed fire safety systems in the property, and have signed up to keep your deposit safe in an approved tenancy deposit scheme.

Here’s a useful checklist

Other Options

If things go wrong and you find yourself not being able to afford or not being able to find a place then agencies like “Dundee Homefinders” will be able to help. They can liaise with landlords on your behalf, they can provide landlords with a written deposit ‘bond guarantee’ on your behalf, they accompany you to the viewings, they can provide independent inventories agreed by both you and the landlord and they will assist you at the signing of your tenancy. There will be agencies like this in your local council area.

What do you need if you are setting up a home?

When setting up a house, keep in mind that tenancies can be furnished differently – some come fully furnished; others don’t even include carpets. It is most likely if you are moving to social rented property that it will not be furnished with anything but it can happen with any type of tenancy. Here’s a list of most of the things you will need when setting up a house (your own needs may differ depending on your circumstances and preferences);

Curtains, curtain poles, iron, cups, plates, cutlery, kitchen utensils, pots and pans, kettle, cooker, fridge freezer, washing machine, washing powder, mirror, TV, hairdryer, clothes, storage for clothes, bed, mattress, bedding (duvet, duvet cover, sheet, pillows, pillow cases), table and chairs, lights, light shades, carpets, sofa, toiletries, towels, hoover, cleaning products.

In mid-market rent, some landlords will provide “white goods” (washing machine, fridge freezer, cooker), while many private rented properties  come fully furnished so you will only need to bring bedding, towels, crockery, pots and pans etc.

If you need home furnishings but cannot afford them, some local charities can help – for example, Starter Packs Dundee donate  good, unwanted basic household goods received from churches in the area, other organisations and individuals. The items are gathered into starter packs ready for people and families looking to move into a tenancy.

You can often get help locally. For example in Dundee you can get help from Dundee City Council Social Work and Housing Departments, Tayside NHS Social Work and Family Centres, Hillcrest Housing Association, Action for Children, the Salvation Army, the Criminal Justice Service, Dundee Homefinder, Positive Steps and many other agencies caring for re-settling homeless and needy individuals and families. There will be similar help available in your own council area.

Another way to get help for home furnishings is to apply for a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund. There are two types of grant;

  • Crisis grants – apply for this if you are in a crisis because of a disaster (such as a fire or a flood) or an emergency (such as where money has been lost or an unexpected expense has arisen).
  • Community care grants – these help vulnerable people set up a home or continue to live independently in their community. They are specifically aimed at: families under exceptional pressure, people following a period of care or homelessness, to help people to continue to live independently where there’s a risk of care or homelessness, to meet additional costs associated with looking after someone on temporary release from prison or a young offenders’ institution.

You must be 16 or older and on a low income to be eligible for a crisis or community care grant

Budgeting 101

Before taking on a home of your own, you need to know how to manage your money. It’s often more expensive to run a home than you think. Budgeting apps, like  “Toshl Finance” (which is available on both Apple and android phones) can help you.

Another way of managing your money is making lists of your bills and expenses as it helps you keep track of what ones you have paid and which ones you still have to pay.

Some common bills include; gas, electricity, council tax, rent, service charge, home contents insurance, TV licence, Netflix/Sky/Virgin, travel pass, food, phone, Wi-Fi, clothes and shoes.


You may find the Shelter website helpful.