Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

What are the implications of renting to a 17 year old or someone who is under the age of 18? We have an application from a 17-year old that is keen to rent but I’m not sure this would be legal?

Many landlords and housing providers would be concerned and therefore refuse to let to anyone under the age of 18. However, despite some legal complications, according to the homeless charity Shelter, it is possible to grant a tenancy to a 16 or 17 year-old. Shelter is very much in favour of landlords taking younger tenants as this helps both the homelessness statistics and the individuals concerned.

Under English law a minor (someone under the age of 18) cannot be bound by a contract unless they are deemed able to understand it, and it must be for necessities. Shelter maintains that the vast majority of 16 and 17 year-olds are well able to understand a tenancy contract and therefore able to enter into one, with all the obligations placed on them as tenant. Also, accommodation is definitely “for necessities”.

Therefore a tenancy would be enforceable in a court under common law and, for example, rent arrears could be claimed against the 16 or 17 year old minor in the usual way, though it is recommended that a litigation or McKenzie Friend (MF) be appointed.

A complication arises under the Law of Property Act 1925 which says minors cannot hold a legal estate in land, a tenancy being just that. However, Shelter argue this can be overcome, pointing out that it has been held on appeal that a 13-year-old can succeed a secure tenancy, albeit only as an equitable tenancy, where the title is held in trust by an adult. This can be a relative, friend, social worker or even the landlord.

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Anyone contemplating this should seek legal advice and should be aware that a minor as a tenant may need more than usual in terms of supervision, help and guidance. The accommodation and occupant mix of the area should be suitable and the landlord should liaise closely throughout the tenancy with any organisation involved in placing the young person.

*A McKenzie Friend assists a litigant in person in court. The “friend” does not need to be legally qualified but offers guidance and moral support, e.g.: taking notes, helping with papers, prompting on questions. They cannot represent or cross examine.

Please Note: This Article is 7 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.
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4 COMMENTS

  1. if I where able to rent a flat at the age of 17 which I am, as I am homeless and staying with friends as I was kicked out for reasons and I have no family that can take me in and would I get help with rent and housing payments, does it work that I pay it back in the future when im more stable with money?
    teegan

    • Teegan
      Sorry to hear your difficult situation. If you were to rent and are currently claiming benefits or on a low income you can claim help with your rent and council tax from your local council by claiming housing and council tax benefits. These benefits do not need paying back. You can also sometimes get support from charities to help by deposits and for help with furniture. Although this sounds good remember you would have to pay all your other bills (gas, electric, water, TV licence, Internet, food, toiletries etc) from your income. It can be expensive renting so sometimes house sharing can be a good options to help split the financial costs until you are older and more financially stable.
      Good luck.
      Kelly x

  2. Me and my boyfriend are both 17 years of age and we are finding it very hard to rent a place as some landlords won’t take us on because we are 17, we are currently homeless as I’m having to stay at a mates house squashed and there’s hardly no room I don’t get on with any of my family and my boyfriends is also staying at his cousins but it’s squashed there, I’m not sure what steps I could take so that me and my boyfriend are able to rent I’ve been in touch with the social services and currently in intact with council and none of them are able to do anything. What do I do as I also suffer from atheritis?

  3. I am 17 with a 3 year old and one on the way I am finding it very hard to rent an apartment because the landlord won’t take me on it is hard to fined one due to my age please if you can please help me fined a place in Omaha Nebraska

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