Tenancies and young people under 18 years old

This section explains the legal position of young people under the age of 18 regarding holding a tenancy.

This content applies to Scotland

Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991

This Act deals with the legal capacity of young people under the age of 16 to enter into legal contracts. Someone under 16 does not have the legal capacity to enter into a contract unless that contract is of a kind commonly entered into by persons of her/his age and circumstances. [1] As a tenancy is not of this kind, a person under 16 cannot legally hold a tenancy.

A person aged 16 or over has the legal capacity to enter into any transaction, and thus to hold a tenancy. [2]

Housing Benefit and 16 and 17 year olds

There are no age restrictions on claiming Housing Benefit. If a young person is living independently and responsible for paying the rent s/he will be eligible, subject to restrictions applying to persons of any age, for Housing Benefit. 16 and 17 year olds will fall within the single room rent restrictions imposed on those aged under 25.


To succeed to a secure tenancy as a member of the tenant's family, the potential successor must be at least 16 years old when the tenant died. [3] A 16 or 17 year old can succeed to a Scottish secure tenancy [4] and to an assured tenancy [5] as the deceased tenant's husband or wife, or cohabitee.

For more information, please see the section on succession.

Last updated: 29 December 2014


  • [1]

    s.1(1)(a) & s.2(1) Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991

  • [2]

    s.1(1)(b) Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991

  • [3]

    s.52(2)(c) Housing (Scotland) Act 1987

  • [4]

    s.22 Housing (Scotland) Act 2001

  • [5]

    s.31 Housing (Scotland) Act 1988