Eviction if you are sent to prison

Your landlord may try to evict you while you are in prison. You can take action to challenge this.

Reasons for eviction

Your landlord may try to evict you if you've been sent to prison if:

You may not be entitled to any help from the council if you're homeless after release if you don't try to do what you can to avoid losing your tenancy.

Keep in touch

After you've been sent to prison, it's important that you are able to find out about any action or decisions affecting your tenancy, such as letters from your landlord, the court or the housing benefit department.

Depending on what type of tenancy you have, you might not get very much notice of court action if the landlord decides to take steps to end your tenancy.

You need to decide if and when you tell your landlord you're in prison. If your landlord knows where you are, letters could be sent directly to you in prison and you could be aware of any action your landlord takes.

You could ask someone such as a family member, friend or support worker to regularly collect your mail and send it to you.

Private tenants

Use Shelter's tenancy checker to find out what type of tenancy you have and the procedures and timescales the landlord has to follow to evict you.

Court action to evict you can be started quickly. You will need to know about it so you can take action if needed.

If you are an assured shorthold tenant

Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy and can be evicted after two months' notice. Your landlord must also get a court order.

Assured shorthold tenants can also be evicted:

  • for rent arrears
  • if you have abandoned the property or no longer occupy it as your sole or main home
  • for using the property for illegal or immoral purposes (this could include dealing drugs from the property) or allowing someone else to do so, or
  • for causing nuisance or annoyance to neighbours

Find out more about the eviction of assured shorthold tenants.

Assured tenants

If you are threatened with  eviction from an assured tenancy, you usually can't be evicted until your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to the eviction.

Regulated tenants

If you are threatened with eviction from a regulated tenancy (tenancies that started before 15th January 1989).

You usually can't be evicted until your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to the eviction.

Lodgers

If you are a lodger in your landlord's home, you are only be entitled to reasonable notice. Your landlord doesn’t need to get a court order.

Council and housing association tenants

Most council tenants have a secure tenancy. Your landlord must send you the correct notice and get a court order before it can evict you from a secure tenancy.

If you are sent to prison for any length of time, you might risk being evicted from a secure tenancy for:

  • rent arrears – these may already exist or could build up when you are in prison
  • sub-letting the whole property without permission
  • no longer living in the property

You can be evicted fairly easily if you have:

Get advice immediately if the council or housing association tells you it is going to apply for a court order to evict you. You won’t have much time to take action if you want to stop the eviction and will probably need help from an adviser to challenge the decision.

Contact an adviser in your prison or call Shelter's advice helpline.

Eviction if you abandon your home

As a council, housing association or private tenant, you have some legal protection from eviction, as long as you occupy the property as your only or main home.

If the landlord can show that you no longer occupy the property as your only or main home, they can evict you without giving you or the court any reasons. To do this, the landlord must give you a notice to quit of at least 28 days. The notice can normally be sent to your home, even if you have left.

At the end of the notice period, the landlord can start court proceedings to evict anyone else who may be living in your home. In some circumstances the landlord can evict them without going to court.

Get advice immediately if your landlord tells you they're taking back your home because you don't live there anymore. Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your local area.

Illegal eviction

The landlord must follow the rules to evict you. If they do not, they could be illegally evicting you.

Get advice to check that your landlord has followed the rules for eviction. Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your local area.

Argue your case in court

Get advice if you're being taken to court over eviction. 

The court sometimes has the power to let you keep your tenancy if you can show that:

  • you intend to return to your home within a reasonable period, and
  • your possessions remain in the property
  • the rent is being paid

If you are allowed home on temporary release, this can be used as evidence that you continue to live in your home and that you intend to keep living there.

Prisoners with a sentence of between three months and four years may be allowed to spend some of their sentence on Home Detention Curfew (HDC). If you qualify for HDC, you may be able to argue that you:

  • intend to use your home as the address needed for the HDC
  • will be living in the property while on HDC
  • intend to return there when your sentence comes to an end

Get help to pay your rent

You must make sure that the rent is paid while you're in prison. If you don't pay your rent you could be evicted for rent arrears.

You may be eligible for housing benefit to help pay the rent.

If you were getting universal credit to help pay your rent you can continue to get it if you expect to be released within 6 months of going to prison.

Your husband, wife, civil partner or cohabitee may be able to claim housing benefit or universal credit instead of you.

Get advice

Get advice immediately if you have been threatened with eviction.

Ask an adviser in your prison for help or use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

 

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