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.

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. You can find contact information in the Local Support and Contact Details section below.
  • 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.

Mecclink provides a list of local housing support services across West Yorkshire.

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.

Visit the Mecclink Housing and Homelessness page for information on how to refer someone in your area.

Children living in a damp home are up to 3 times more likely to have breathing problems. The most common cause of damp is condensation. Condensation happens when water in the air comes into contact with a cold surface e.g. wall or window.

Sometimes damp/mould happens when a house needs repairs e.g. a leaking pipe. First try to find out what is causing the damp and fix the problem. You may need advice from a damp specialist or a builder.

Tips to reduce damp in your home:

  • Dry clothes outside or use a vented tumble dryer
  • Keep lids on pans when cooking
  • Use an extractor fan when cooking or showering
  • Keep the kitchen or bathroom door closed and open a window so that moist air goes outside
  • Let fresh air circulate by leaving a gap between walls and furniture
  • Heat your home a little more if possible as very cold rooms are more likely to get damp or mouldy. It helps to keep your home above 15 degrees
  • Wipe down damp windows with a cloth and wring it out (don’t dry it on a radiator)
  • Open bedroom windows for 5-10 minutes every morning
  • Insulate your home e.g. your loft
  • Draft proof your doors

Damp can cause mould to grow on the walls. Mould is a type of fungus. Mould produces spores which your child can breathe in. This may worsen asthma.

Tips for treating mould in your home:

  • Remove the cause of the damp
  • Clean off mould using a mould spray e.g. containing bleach
  • Leave to dry overnight and then spray the area with an anti fungal wash following the manufacturers instructions
  • Redecorate using mould-resistant paint

What to do about damp and mould if you rent

Tell your landlord if you have damp especially if it is affecting your child’s health.

Further information and support:

Advice on condensation, damp and mould from the centre for sustainable energy.

Shelter provide advice on damp in rented homes and what to do if it is affecting your health.

You may also be able to get a housing assessment from your local council. You can find contact information in the Local Support and Contact Details section below.

Asthma UK also provide advice about mould and damp.

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. 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

Check if your local council provides a pest control service. Those that don’t should still be able to provide you with some advice. You can find contact information for your local council in the Local Support section below.

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.

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