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Housing advice and support for those leaving prison

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 make sure you report the change in circumstances to our housing benefit service.

If you’re on Universal Credit, your housing costs can be paid for up to six months. You may want to set up a Direct Debit to ensure payments go to your landlord.

If you’re not able to pay your full rent, you should:

  • arrange with your landlord to pay some of the rent
  • agree and set up an arrangement to clear the arrears through wages or benefits when you’re 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 sublet your property without the permission of the landlord, or you may be evicted. 

You must let your landlord know of the change in your circumstances and provide a contact address so that any letters relating to your property come to you. If you do not do this, then you may not be aware if eviction proceedings have started while you’re in prison.

If you know you will not be able to pay your rent, you should end the tenancy 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’re homeless when released. That’s why it’s important to look at all options before giving up your tenancy.

Mortgage payments

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

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

If you cannot claim SMI, you may be able to negotiate with your lender to reduce payments while you’re in prison.

Alternatively, 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 longer are released on licence and live in the community supervised by the probation service until the end of their sentence.

If you’re released on licence, your probation officer can help you find accommodation, if you’ve spent a continuous period of at least 12 months in custody.

Homelessness help when on bail or home detention curfew

If you’re a low-risk adult prisoner and eligible for release on bail or home detention curfew, but do not 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.