What rights do you get at 18?

Published: 23rd Mar 2018

In brief


You need to be 18 to get married on your own.


Correct for England and Wales. You can get married or enter a civil partnership at 16 and 17 but you still need parental consent.


You need to be 18 to buy a house.


Correct for England and Wales, though you can have one owned in trust by a trustee.

Claim 1 of 2

“I definitely think they should be 18 [to vote]. As a consenting adult, that is the age you can buy a house or get married on your own, legally.”

BBC Question time audience member, 22 March 2018

The figures in this article apply to England and Wales. We haven’t been able to look at the case for Scotland and Northern Ireland here.

You can’t buy a house yourself until you’re 18, because in general you can’t legally enter into a contract until that age. People under 18 can still have an ‘estate in land’ owned in trust by a trustee. According to the House of Commons Library:

“At 18 an individual has complete contractual capacity; they can make binding contracts in their own right. They can own land, buy a house or flat, hold a tenancy or apply for a mortgage. They will also become entitled to any property that has been held in trust for them.”

You may also have certain rights to being housed by your local authority if you’re under 18. Local authorities usually have to secure housing for unintentionally homeless 16 and 17 year-olds, and you can also get help if you’re under 16 and having serious problems at home.

You can legally get married, or enter into a civil partnership at 16, although parental consent must be given in both cases if you are under the age of 18.

We’ve previously summarised some of the key legal age limits in England and Wales.

If the issues in this article are relevant to you and you’re looking for advice about your own circumstances wherever you are in the UK, you can contact Citizens Advice.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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