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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 to your 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 with agreement to set up to make 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 Housing Benefit or Universal Credit housing costs providing they are living in your property. You must ensure you have permission from your landlord if someone else will be living at your property.
  • 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 the Council 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.
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