16-18 year olds

If you remain looked after, we will make sure that you have a suitable place to live such as foster care, supported lodgings or semi-independent accommodation. If you are no longer looked after, we will make sure you have the most appropriate accommodation.

Foster care

If you are fostered you do not always have to leave at 16 or 17, especially if you can learn the skills you need, helped by your carer, you may be able to stay on after 18. This is called a Staying Put arrangement (explained below).

Supported lodgings

This is like foster care, where you live in a family home. You have more opportunity to develop your independence skills with support from the supported lodgings carer such as cooking, managing money and household chores.

Semi-independent accommodation

This is accommodation which you would share with other young people, but you would have your own bedroom. Staff at the accommodation are available to support you to develop your independence skills.

We can access semi-independent accommodation for you if you are aged 16-18 through our in-house placement team if this is identified in your Pathway Plan.

Your social worker will support you to register with your local housing authority in preparation for when you become 18 years of age.

Options for post 18

We have a duty to ensure that you live in suitable accommodation.

What is suitable accommodation?

Suitable accommodation is somewhere that is safe and right for you, that helps provide an environment where you can develop the skills you need to live independently. You should talk to your social worker or personal adviser about where you want to live.

Staying Put

This is for young people who reach 18 years old while in foster care and wish to remain with their carer under a Staying Put arrangement if that is what you and your carers choose. This arrangement can continue up until the age of 21.

Post 18 supported lodgings

If you have been in a supported lodgings placement before you reach 18 years of age, you can remain there if that is what you and your carers want. You can stay until the age of 21.

Supported accommodation

We'll assist you in accessing supported accommodation, based on assessed need, when you approach 18.

We'll help you apply to the Nacro Employment Support & Transition (NEST), who provide a range of supported housing options for care leavers who are over 18.

Shared Lives

Shared Lives is for those with greater support needs or a disability and would enable young people who cannot live alone without support, to remain with their previous carer. This option is available to young people who have eligible needs under the Care Act 2014.

Supported Living

Supported Living is housing for people with disabilities who want to live independently but may need some help and support. We will support you in this pathway if it is assessed as the option that best meets your needs. For more information, see Supported Living on the Essex Local Offer website.

Privately rented accommodation

Privately rented accommodation can be self-contained or shared. Rents can be expensive and landlords can be choosy about who they let their properties to.

You will need to sign a tenancy agreement. This is a legally binding document and it's important that you understand it before you sign it. Your personal adviser will be able to support you with this.

We can help with a one-off rent and deposit payment to secure private rented accommodation. This is a discretionary payment and will be considered by the local care and resource panel.

We'll support you to explore what is your best option and to register with the appropriate housing service.

Lodgings or sharing

Living in someone else’s house may be cheaper and less lonely than living in a place of your own.

It’s a good idea to have a written agreement with the people who you are living with about your rent, bills and responsibilities.

Informally living with family or friends

Staying with others may be right for you, and you'll be able to seek advice from us and the council housing services if later on you need to move or are in danger of becoming homeless.

Council or housing association accommodation

This is where the council or a housing association is the landlord and usually the tenant has more security.


We'll help you to find accommodation whilst studying and during university breaks if you need it. Usually you will have the option of living in accommodation provided by the university or renting from a private landlord. Funding can be explored and your personal adviser can outline this in your pathway plan.

What you need to know

Many young people feel like they must be given their own flat by law when they are 18, but this is not the case, and having the responsibility of a flat might not be right for you now.


A tenancy (or licence) is a legal document which entitles the person (tenant) to live in a property and outlines the responsibilities that go with this.

There are different types of tenancy agreements, which give you legal rights.

Whatever type of agreement you have, make sure that you are given a copy at the time it is signed.

Rent and Bills

You will need to use your own income to pay your own rent and bills through employment, benefits or a combination of both.

We have a benefits adviser in the Leaving and After Care service who can help and give you advice, alongside your social worker or personal adviser. The benefits adviser can be contacted via the Leaving and After Care Team.

Having found somewhere suitable to live it is very important to talk to your social worker or personal adviser if you have problems with understanding and paying your bills, such as rent, electricity or water.

Do not ignore official looking letters, they could be very important.

Council Tax

Once you reach 18 years old, you must register for Council Tax if you have your own tenancy or are the main householder in a property. You will need to inform the borough, district or city council that you are a care leaver and claim any council tax discounts that you are entitled to, such as Council Tax Reduction, Single Person Discount, or Student Exemption. If you are living in someone else’s household, it could also affect the discounts or benefits of the person you are living with.

If you live in one of the following areas, you will be exempt from paying council tax. Exempt means you do not have to pay. Your personal adviser will need to confirm your care leaver status with the Council Tax department, in order for the exemption to be processed.

This applies in:

  • Basildon
  • Braintree
  • Brentwood
  • Castle Point
  • Chelmsford
  • Colchester
  • Epping Forest
  • Harlow
  • Maldon
  • Rochford
  • Tendring
  • Uttlesford

In addition, if you are living in someone else’s household, your presence will not result in the householder having to pay more Council Tax.

Care Leavers living outside of Essex

After you turn 16 your social worker will begin to talk to you about accommodation for you when you turn 18, including whether it is possible to remain in the area you may be currently living. Different housing authorities have different local connection rules and this can be complicated to understand so having conversations with your social worker or personal adviser is important.

You can also still keep your local connection with the Essex area where you came into care and you can be placed on this housing register from your 16th birthday.


We have a designated personal adviser to support you if you are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

The Local Housing Authorities (LHAs) have a duty to give help and advice to prevent homelessness and to people who are homeless.

As a care leaver you're considered as a ‘priority need’ under the law, but other things need to be looked at too, such as if you're homeless because of something that you have or haven’t done.

The LHA may also check that you have a local connection to the area you are making an application in. While they investigate your situation you may be placed in temporary accommodation.

Presenting as homeless does not provide a guarantee of being offered social housing as the LHA can discharge a housing duty by supporting access to private accommodation that is available to you for 6 months or more.

If you are in danger of becoming homeless (in an emergency), contact the Shelter Advice Line on 0808 800 444, and/or call your local leaving and after care team if you are under 25.