A child’s health and education can suffer if they do not have a safe and warm home. 

No one wants to live in a damp, mouldy or cold home. You can ask the council for help if your landlord won’t deal with repairs or bad conditions in your home.

There are lots of helpful links concerning Housing on our Local Services page.

Living in a cold and damp home can lead to:

  • More respiratory infections
  • Higher levels of asthma
  • Effects on mental health such as depression
  • Slower growth and development for children
  • Less money to spend on food
  • Family stress

Children living in a damp home are up to 3 times more likely to have breathing problems.

Visit our page on damp and mould for more advice.

Children living in cold homes are twice as likely to have breathing problems such as asthma.

Some families need to make hard decisions about whether to buy things like food or use that money to heat their home.

Visit our page on keeping your home warm.

Problems with your home can sometimes lead to pests e.g. ants, rats, mites and bedbugs.

It isn’t always clear who is responsible for dealing with pests if you are renting. Your landlord will probably be responsible if the problem has happened because repairs are needed, for example fixing holes in the wall.

You might be responsible for dealing with the problem if it was caused by something you did, for example not disposing of rubbish properly.

Tips for avoiding rats:

  • Block up gaps around pipes
  • Repair holes in the pointing
  • Keep rubbish in your bin and avoid it overflowing
  • Don’t leave bin bags outside
  • Don’t feed the birds as it will also attract rats and mice

Further advice:

Citizens advice on pests and vermin

Shelter provide information about who is responsible for dealing with an infestation in your rented home and what you can do about it.

The National Pest Technicians Association and the British Pest Control Association can provide details of local pest control services.

Shelter provides advice on housing, including problems with repairs.

The home is the most common place for young children to get injured. Children who live in rented, older or overcrowded homes are at higher risk of injury.

  • Get a safe and well check from the fire service. They provide advice to those at low risk of fire. They may offer a home visit to those at high risk
  • RoSPA provides lots of useful information e.g. about blind cords, falls, fires, poisoning, suffocating and choking, drowning, scalds and burns

Everybody should have a safe place to live. It is a basic human right. However, we know that there are thousands of children across the UK who do not have this. You don’t have to be living on the street to be considered homeless. Some families live in temporary accommodation, with friends or sofa surf whilst others live in fear of losing their home.

If you are homeless or at risk of homelessness:

  • Speak to your local council as soon as possible
  • If you are struggling to pay rent speak to your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible
  • Speak to your social worker if you have one
  • Make a list of people you trust who you could stay with if you had to
  • Pack what you need e.g. warm clothes, phone charger, medication and I.D

If the council agrees that you are eligible then it must offer you accommodation. This is likely to be temporary accommodation. If you turn down an offer of temporary accommodation, the council may refuse to offer you anything else. In general it is best to accept it and challenge it later, unless you are at risk of harm there.

Where can I get help?

If you are in immediate danger, dial 999 and speak to the police.

Childline - if you are a child in need of help, call for free on 0800 1111.

Centrepoint - Advice and support for young people in England aged 16-25. Call free on 0808 800 0661 (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm).

Shelter - Support and advice if you are homeless, have nowhere to stay tonight, are worried about losing your home in the next 2 months or are at risk of harm. Call free on 0808 800 4444 (Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday 9am-5pm).

Citizens Advice - Get advice about housing, your homeless application and how to challenge the council’s homeless decision. Call the national advice line on 0800 144 8848.

Duty to refer

Some organisations such as hospitals and social workers have a duty to refer anyone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless within the next 56 days.