Having children or being pregnant means you have to think about your additional responsibilities when finding a home. It can be tough, however make sure you get your housing situation under control.
Will the property be suitable for kids? Do you need to be somewhere close to family or friends who can lend a hand when things get tough?
Staying with friends or family
You may want to or you may have to live on your own once you have children. However, if you’re a young parent and you don’t feel confident living on your own ask if you can stay with family or friends until you find your feet. This support can be a great help if you’re new to being a mum or dad.
Help from the Housing Executive
If you’re pregnant or you have children you’ll be seen as being in Priority Need and may be able to get assistance from the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive must give you advice and assistance if you are homeless or about to become homeless. You may also be entitled to permanent accommodation if
- you are homeless or are going to be homeless within 28 days and
- you are eligible for social housing (people from certain countries and people with a history of anti-social behaviour are not entitled to housing assistance from the Housing Executive) and
- you are pregnant, have children or are vulnerable in some way and
- your homelessness is not due to something you intentionally did or failed to do.
Go to your local Housing Executive office and ask to be assessed for homelessness. If the Housing Executive turns you away, contact an advice agency like Housing Rights. You should get a decision letter from the Housing Executive within about a month which will tell you if your application was successful.
Once you get this letter, it’s a good idea to get some advice from a housing advice charity like Housing Rights. If the Housing Executive agrees that it has to help you find housing an adviser can help you make sure you get as many points as you can.
If the Housing Executive doesn’t think it has to help you are legally allowed to ask a senior member of staff to look at the decision again. An adviser may be able to get the decision reversed but you need to make your request within 28 days of getting the original decision.
Pregnancy and housing
Depending on where you’re living getting pregnant may mean that you have to find somewhere more suitable to live. If you’re living in supported accommodation or in a hostel for young people, you may not be able to stay there once the baby is born. Talk to your support worker as early as possible. The support workers at your accommodation can help you find somewhere suitable to move to once the baby comes.
If you’re pregnant and you’re homeless or have nowhere to go, the Housing Executive may have a responsibility to help you. Speak to a housing adviser at Housing Rights if you’re not sure what to do.
It may seem unfair, but the Housing Executive will not assess you as needing more than one bedroom until your baby is born. If you’re still living at home you may want to wait to apply to the Housing Executive until after the baby is born. Talk to your parents or carers to see what is best for you and your baby.
Help with housing costs
You may be entitled to some housing benefit to help you pay your rent and rates.
Access to children
You won’t usually be entitled to a bedroom for your children if you only have shared access to them and they don’t live with you permanently.
If you have shared access, the Housing Executive will usually decide that the parent who receives housing benefit is the parent who the children live with permanently. This means that you may not have a room for your children to stay in if they stay with you and, if you do, you may not receive enough housing benefit to pay for it.
If you’re living in a hostel or other type of shared accommodation it might not be suitable for your children to stay over with you. Some hostels may have a day room that parents can use when their children visit during the day, but kids can’t stay overnight. Chat to the support workers in the hostel to see what arrangements are in place to help parents with access to children.
Most single people who don't have dependent children will have their housing benefit restricted and will only get enough to rent a room in a shared house. If you've got access to your kids but they don't live with you all the time, you won't usually get housing benefit to cover a bedroom for them. If you're renting privately and your housing benefit isn't covering the full rent, you may be able to get extra housing benefit by applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
If you’re concerned about not being able to see your kids because of your housing, get in touch with Housing Rights to see if anything can be done.
Nowhere to go
It’s not safe for you or your children to sleep on the streets so if you’ve nowhere to go get help immediately. Call Housing Rights on 028 9024 5640 or the Housing Executive on 03448 920 900 and explain that you have nowhere to go and this is an emergency. If you're calling at night or over the weekend, call 028 95049999.
Private landlords must get a court order to evict tenants from a property. You can only be evicted by an officer of the Enforcement of Judgements Office. Your landlord cannot legally throw you out without this officer present. You can only be evicted by the Enforcement Officer if your landlord has applied to the courts to end your tenancy and you should have received paperwork about these court hearings. If you're due to be evicted by an Enforcement Officer you will receive official notification from the courts.
Call your local council to report your landlord if he or she tries this or call Housing Rights on 028 9024 5640. Illegal eviction is a criminal offence and your landlord could be prosecuted.