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Choosing where to live as an adult with SEND

We want you to live as independently as possible. You must decide what is right for you and consider where and who you want to live with.

Young people with learning disabilities should be able to choose:

  • where to live
  • who to live with

Whether you want to continue to live with your family, or live with others independently or with support, there is much to consider. After finding somewhere to live, you and your family will need to consider the time scales for any move, financial issues and the level of support you need to live as independently as possible.

Living independently means having the right support to do things when and how you want. As you get older, you are able to make decisions about your life and how you live it.  This includes deciding where you want to live.

If you are planning on moving into your own home it is important that you have the following:

The Government housing information webpages offers advice on all areas of moving house like benefits advice, mortgage advice, help with renting a private property and more. 

Staying at home and changes that may need to be made for you to stay at home

You may decide that you would like to continue living with your family.
To continue living at home you may need some changes to be made to the home, or you may need some extra support. 

To make changes to your home you can:

•    apply for adaptions or equipment for your home
•    apply to get a Disabled Facilities Grant 
•    find out more information on Shelter’s guide to help with adaptions to your home

To get support for daily living like:

  • washing and dressing
  • shopping
  • preparing and making meals
  • getting around
  • communicating with others

you may need a support worker. You could be able to pay for the support you need from the benefits you recieve or you may be entitled to support via Adult Social Care and a personal Budget. Even if you qualify for support from Adult Social Care it is likely that you will have to pay a contribution towards the support provided.

Renting from a private landlord

This means renting from someone who owns a property. Some rents will be above the levels covered by housing benefit, so it is important to choose a property you can afford.  Make sure you consider carefully how much you can pay when you are looking at properties. You should work out how much rent you can afford.

Private landlords advertise their properties in these places:

  • a letting agency or an estate agent;
  • an advert in the local newspaper;
  • on a sign outside the property;
  • on the internet; or
  • on a shop noticeboard.

There are different ways in which you can rent:

  • Directly from the landlord- if deciding to rent directly through a landlord make sure they belong to an accreditation scheme. Your local authority can advise you of this. If the landlord is subletting (renting you a property that they are renting from the home owner) make sure that the owner has consented to the subletting
  • Through a letting agent- if renting through a letting agent, you will need to find out the fees, costs and when you need to pay them by.

There are a number of options which may suit you and your household:

  • renting a room in a shared house – you would have your own bedroom but would have to share other facilities such as the kitchen, bathroom and living room.
  • lodging – when you are renting in another person’s house, usually the landlord.
  • bedsits – one larger room used for sleeping, living, eating and cooking. Often there are other bedsits in one large property making it cheaper than other options. You may be sharing some facilities, such as a bathroom and toilet.
  • living on your own in a studio - a flat with the bedroom, lounge and kitchen often in one room with a separate, private bathroom and toilet. The flat will be self-contained and it is likely that you will have to pay rent and bills separately so you should factor this into your budget.
  • sharing a house with family members – renting a whole house and sharing it with members of your family or relatives. To keep costs down, you might consider sharing bedrooms with family members. Your whole family will be responsible for paying all the bills separately.

If you are relying on Housing Benefit to help with your rent, you will need to know how many bedrooms you are entitled to and your Local Housing Allowance rate. Some landlords will not accept people on Housing benefit, so it is always best to check.

If you live on your own or with a friend in rented accomodation you will also need to budget for Coucil Tax. Coucil Tax may be reduced if you qualify for Council Tax benefi.

You will also need to budget for paying bills for things like water, electric, gass etc. unless any of them are included in your rent.

Before you move in you must be aware of:

  • Holding deposit (Sometimes called a retainer): This is an amount of money an Estate agent can ask to 'reserve' a property and take it off the rental market (usually in a city where property goes quickly).  The amount varies but is usually around one week's rent.  This amount is normally taken off your deposit, which will be returned, once you leave the property or end the tenancy.  You MAY lose this money if you change your mind and never move in. 
  • Contract/administration fee: This is a fee the estate agent will charge to create a contract between you and a landlord.  This price also includes the work needed in administration phone calls/photocopying, etc.
  • Reference Checks: This pays for the cost of running checks on you. This is usually with your current employer and/or previous landlord. 
  • Credit Checks: This is the cost for running checks on your credit history.  A check is done via a credit reference agency, for example, Experian or Equifax. 
  • Deposit: When you are renting a property, you have to leave a deposit with the landlord/estate agent, which can only be used, if you damage the property or have unpaid rent.  This deposit is taken by the estate agent/landlord before you move in and kept in a separate account.  This money is returned to you after you leave your tenancy.

After you have moved in you may need to consider:

  • Tenancy Renewal:  You will have selected a period of time you wish to live at the property.   Once this time has passed, you will have to renew your contract.  Please be aware this could also be the time your landlord decides to put your rent up;
  • Changes to contract:  If you need to change your contract because a housemate has moved out or if you wish to change the contract period length;
  • Unpaid rent: If you have set up a standing order or direct debit and there is not enough money in your account when rent is due, your estate agent/landlord can charge you (your bank can too!);
  • Early termination of contract:  If you wish to cancel your contract before the agreed time period, then you can be charged the full amount of rent owed for the months remaining in your contract, plus a termination fee. 

You can find more information about finding a private rented home from Shelter.

Renting a housing association property

You can apply to join the waiting lists for a housing association property by registering with Devon Home Choice.

The number of properties available is limited and there is a long waiting list so most people will not be successful in getting a social housing property.

If you are successful it can typically take 18 - 24 months, so if you need to move quickly then you should not rely on a Devon home Choice application to find a home.

Full details on how Devon Home Choice works and how to apply can be found on our join the housing waiting list page.

Buy your own home

Having your own home can help you feel secure and independent. 

Home ownership

This is when you own the home you live in, either yourself or with a mortgage. A mortgage is when you borrow money to buy a house and pay the money back over many years. You can also use your savings. You could inherit a home which could be yours alone or it could be left to you and your family.

Shared ownership

This is when a Housing Association owns part of your home and you own the rest. You have to pay rent to the Housing Association for the part you do not own and pay the mortgage for the part you do own.


There is a scheme in operation called HOLD(link opens in new window) that stands for Home Ownership for people with Long-term Disabilities.

This is a way that someone with a disability can own their own home. It is run by some Housing Associations, which are Registered Social Landlords.

The disabled person finds a property they would like to buy. The Housing Association buys the property, so the disabled person only deals with them.

The Housing Association sells part of the property to the disabled person. They might be able to buy more of it in the future.

They rent the other part from the Housing Association, who looks after things like repairs and making sure the property is in good condition.

If you have a disability, the HOLD scheme can help you buy on a shared ownership basis.

You can search on the house shop for properties that are accessible or have disabled access 

Supported living

Supported living can mean and be different things to different people.

An individual flat

For some, supported living can be living on their own with minimal support, living in an individual flat as independently as possible within the community with few hours of support a week. You will have your own tenancy and receive benefits which you will need to use toward daily living, bills and rent and paying towards the cost of any support needs you have.

Shared accomodation

For others, supported living can mean living with several other people with similar needs and sharing some support. It can mean having access to support 24 hours a day. You will have your own tenancy and receive benefits which you will need to use toward daily living, your share of bills and rent and paying towards the cost of any support needs you have. You may also have shared responsibilities with housemates towards daily chores like cooking and cleaning.

Shared lives

In a 'shared lives scheme' someone is matched with a host family and lives as part of that family. They share family life and live with, or near to, the host family. The host family gives support and care.

This can be for:

  • long-term support
  • a short break
  • daytime support or
  • family support for someone who lives nearby, but not with the host family.

If you are eligable for the shared lives scheme your social worker will have to make a referal before you can be matched with appropriate support. Find out more about shared lives visit Carers who have space in their home to care | Shared Lives South West (

Residential care home

For some people, residential care is more appropriate. This tends to be for young people with more complex needs, because of their physical need, health need or support with their challenging behaviour.  Residential care means having a room in a building shared with a number of other people. Twenty four hour care will be provided on site as will meals.

Specialist residential care homes may be considered after all other options for remaining at home have been explored and tried. Access to specialist residential care is based on an assessment of your needs by your Social Worker. Residential care means having a room in a building shared with a number of other people. Twenty four hour care will be provided on site as will meals. You will pay most of your benefits towards the cost of this care and be left with a small allowance.

Residential homes are owned and managed by public, private sector or charitable bodies. Some specialise in particular forms of provision, for example for people on the autistic spectrum or those with sensory impairment in conjunction with a learning disability.

NHS England has more information on care homes on their website