Leaving prison advice

Keeping your home while in prison

Paying your rent

You must try to keep up with your rent payments while in prison or you risk losing your home.

You may be entitled to housing benefit for up to 52 weeks while on bail or remand and up to 13 weeks if sentenced so ensure you report the change in circumstances to our housing benefit service. If you are on Universal Credit then the housing costs can be paid for up to 6 months. You may want to set up a direct debit to ensure payments go to your landlord.

If you are not able to pay your full rent then you should:

  • try to make an arrangement with your landlord to pay some of the rent
  • agree set up an arrangement to clear the arrears through wages or benefits when you are released

You may be able to get someone else to pay your rent for you in your absence. A partner, relative or friend may be able to claim.

You must not sub-let your property without the permission of the landlord or you may be evicted.

You must tell your landlord of the change in your circumstances and provide a contact address to ensure any letters relating to your property come to you. If you do not do this then you may not be aware if eviction proceedings start while you are in prison. If you know you will not be able to pay your rent then you should end the tenancy properly to avoid rent arrears; however, if you give up your tenancy when you could have kept it then this may restrict the help you get from us if you are homeless when released. You therefore need to explore all options before giving your tenancy up.

Mortgage payments

If you are already claiming Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) then this can continue for up to 52 weeks while you are on remand. It will end if you are sentenced.

A partner may be able to claim SMI but there will usually be a waiting period.

If you cannot claim SMI then you may be able to negotiate with your lender to reduce payments for a period of time.

Alternatively, you could consider renting out all or part of your home to cover your mortgage payments.

When released from prison

If you were recently released from prison find out about services that could provide practical support and help you find accommodation. You may also be able to apply to us for housing assistance as a homeless person.

If you apply to us for housing assistance we might not necessarily have to provide you with accommodation. Our duty to you might be limited to providing you with advice and assistance.

We will need to carry out enquiries to find out what, if any, duty is owed to you.

Help from probation services

Offenders serving sentences of 12 months or more are released on licence and live in the community supervised by the probation service until the end of their sentence.

If you are released on licence, your probation officer can help you find accommodation, as long as you have spent a continuous period of at least twelve months in custody.

Homelessness help when on bail or home detention curfew

If you are a low risk adult prisoner and eligible for release on bail or home detention curfew, but don't have suitable accommodation to go to, you may be able to get help with supported accommodation. Our housing options advisor will be able to tell you more.

You may want to look at your housing options, or if you know you will have nowhere to stay, request a housing needs assessment.

Page last updated: 01 May 2019
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