Eviction if you are sent to prison

What you can do if your landlord tries to evict you while you are in prison.

Reasons you can be evicted

If you have been sent to prison, you could be at risk of losing your home.

Your landlord may try to evict you if it appears that you have abandoned the property or no longer occupy it as your only or main home.

This can happen without giving you or the court any reasons. The landlord just has to give you a notice to quit of at least 28 days. It can be sent to your home, even after you have left.

You can also be evicted for rent arrears, whether they built up before or after you were sent to prison. Or you could lose your home because of your own or a family member's criminal or antisocial behaviour.

Your right to stay in your home depends  on your tenancy agreement.

Use Shelter's tenancy checker to find out what type of tenancy you have

Eviction from a private tenancy

Most private tenants have an assured shorthold tenancy and can be evicted easily with 2 months' notice.

If you have this tenancy type, you 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 immoral or illegal purposes such as selling drugs or allowing someone else to do so, or
  • for causing nuisance or annoyance to neighbours

Eviction other private tenants

Different rules apply if you have another type of private tenancy.

If you are a regulated tenant (with a tenancy that started before 15th January 1989), you may have more rights than other private tenants.

Get specialist legal advice if you have a regulated tenancy and are being evicted

If you have an assured tenancy, you have some protection from eviction. You  usually can't be evicted until your landlord has gone to court and the court has agreed to the eviction.

If you share your home with your landlord, you are probably a lodger and might only be entitled to reasonable notice.

Council and housing association tenants

Most council tenants have 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
  • subletting the whole property without permission
  • no longer living in the property

Your landlord must send you the correct notice and get a court order before you can be evicted you from a secure tenancy.

You can be evicted fairly easily if you have one of these council or housing association tenancies:

How to avoid eviction

You may not be entitled to any help from the council if you are homeless after release if you don't you try to do everything you can to:

  • avoid being evicted
  • make sure you have alternative accommodation when you are released

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

Keep in touch

You will need to decide whether you want to inform your landlord you are in prison. If you do, letters can be sent directly to you so you can be kept aware of any action that is taken to evict you.

Alternatively, ask a friend, family member or support worker to regularly collect your post and send it to you.

Go to court

If you end up going to court to defend your eviction, you may be able to argue to keep your home if you can show you:

  • intend to return to your home within a reasonable period, or
  • your possessions remain in the property
  • the rent is being paid
  • will be living there while on temporary release
  • plan to spend time in the property as part of a Home Detention Curfew

Apply for money to help with 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.

Find out more from Gov.uk about benefits you can claim.

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.

Contact a Shelter adviser online or by phone.

Last updated 09 May 2017 | © Shelter

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