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:
- it looks like you have abandoned your home or that you don't live there anymore
- you have rent arrears
- you or a family member are guilty of criminal or antisocial behaviour
You may not be entitled to any help from the council if you're homeless after release if you don't try to do everything you can to avoid being evicted or to make sure you have alternative accommodation for when you are released.
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 bailiffs.
Depending on what type of tenancy you have, you might not get very much notice of court action if the landlord decides to evict you..
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 to try to evict you.
You could ask someone such as a family member, friend or support worker to collect your mail and send it to you. Make sure that this is done regularly.
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.
Make sure you can receive letters from your landlord. 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 easily with two months' notice.
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.
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.
If you are threatened with eviction from a regulated tenancy (tenancies that started before 15th January 1989), it is difficult for you to be evicted.
If you share your home with your landlord, you are probably classed an excluded occupier. You might only be entitled to reasonable notice.
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:
- an introductory council tenancy
- a starter tenancy with a housing association
- a demoted council tenancy
- a demoted housing association tenancy
Get advice immediately if the council or housing association tells you it is going to apply for a court order to evict you. You may only have a few days to take action if you want to stop the eviction and will 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.
But 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 be sent to your home, even if you have left.
At the end of the notice period, the landlord can take possession of your home without going to court or can start court proceedings to evict anyone else who may be living there.
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.
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 going to court over eviction. Use Shelter's directory to find an advice centre in your local area.
You may be able to argue in court court to keep your home 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.
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.