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To Sam

Forced to pay rent at 16

My friend has just informed me that she might soon be forced to pay rent by her own parents in order to live with them simply because she now has a part time weekend job aside of college. I dont think that these sorts of actions coming from her parents are in any way acceptable or justifiable. I was wondering if any of this is in any way legal (which hopefully is not the case).

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Sam

Hi there

Families are all different and have their own rules and expectations. There’s no right or wrong way to manage family finances and parents might ask you to help pay towards living costs if you can afford to.

Any young person with a paid job might be asked to pay rent where they live, even when they live with their parents. Your parents still have a duty to look after you until you turn 18 whether you pay rent or not. And they should still provide essentials like food, clothes and heating even if you don’t pay rent.

There are laws about when and how long young people are allowed to work. The law is in place to protect children and help make sure they’re able to study and have free time as well as having a job.

There are lots of reasons a parent or carer might ask for rent. Sometimes families struggle to pay for everything that’s needed and might rely on certain benefits or food banks to help them manage. They might decide that it’s reasonable to ask everyone within the family home to help out where they can and ask you to do chores or give up part or all of your earnings if you have a job.

Sometimes parents decide to ask for money for bills or rent when the family appears to be doing okay. This could help you understand the value of money and help you learn how to budget and save up money for things in the future like university or getting your own home.

If you don’t agree with being asked for rent, or how much they expect you to give, you could ask them about their decision and whether there’s a another way to help that you’re all happy with. It can help if you let them know what you need your money for or you could offer to pay for things like your own bus pass, toiletries or lunches at school or college.

When families disagree it’s good to try and understand the other person’s point of view and to express what you think in an assertive and calm way. Show them you’re taking responsibility, using your money sensibly and let them know if you’re planning to save for something important so they can take that into account if possible.

If you can’t come to an agreement and your parents are saying you have to pay rent or move out then it’s best to talk to someone for support. You can try talking to a counsellor at Childline or someone at your local Citizens Advice.

I hope this helps, take care.

Sam

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