Skip to main content
Shelter Logo

Keeping your home when in prison

It's important to try and keep your home so you have somewhere to live on release.

It can be difficult to find somewhere else to live if you give up a tenancy or get evicted.

If you have to ask for homelessness help on release, the council might decide you're:

They do not provide housing to everyone who is homeless and might just offer advice.

Pay your rent or mortgage

Try to make sure your rent or mortgage is paid.

Ask your partner or a family member to make the payments if you cannot.

Your wife, husband or civil partner can pay the rent or mortgage even if they're not named on the agreement. Your landlord or lender must accept payments from them.

Find out more about:

Claim benefits to help with rent

You cannot usually make a new claim for universal credit (UC) when you're in prison.

If you were already getting UC as a single person before you went to prison, you can usually continue to get the housing costs element for up to 6 months if you're:

  • on remand

  • sentenced but likely to return home within 6 months

If you have a joint UC claim with your partner, they need to tell the DWP that you're away. Find out more about universal credit after a change in circumstances.

Find out more about benefits and prison on GOV.UK

If your home is left empty

You may need to let your landlord know that you're away in case they think you've left your home permanently.

It could be an illegal eviction if your landlord changes the locks. But they might have a defence if they believe you no longer live there.

Council or housing association homes

Leave furniture and possessions to show you intend to return at the end of your sentence.

Ask a friend or relative to act as a caretaker while you're away. They could look after your home, manage your bills and send you any post.

Choose someone you trust. Your landlord could take steps to end your tenancy if occupiers or visitors to the property cause a nuisance.

Any caretaking arrangement must not create a subtenancy.

Subletting is against the law and break the rules of your tenancy.

Do not charge rent to anyone who stays in your home while you're in prison.

You lose rights to your home and risk eviction.

Private rented homes

Decide if it's realistic to try and keep your home.

Many private tenancies are short-term. But if you're serving a short sentence or on remand, you still need somewhere to live when you get out.

Landlords or agents might be happy for you to stay as long as the rent is paid. You do not have to tell them that you're in prison.

But if you share your home with your landlord, you are probably a lodger and it's much easier for them to evict you.

If you decide to give up your tenancy because you'll be in prison for a long time or cannot pay the rent, make sure you end it properly or you could still be liable for rent.

Find out how to end a:

Eviction through the courts

Eviction through the courts takes time. There may be things you can do to keep your home.

The eviction process starts with a notice from your landlord or letter from your lender.

Ask someone you trust to check your post regularly while you're in prison.

Get them to send you any important letters.

Find out more about:

Get legal advice before a court hearing

Act quickly if you're threatened with eviction or repossession:

Call Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 for telephone advice and casework.

A legal aid adviser can:

  • check if you have a defence to the eviction

  • write to your landlord, lender or court

  • refer you to a solicitor

It's important to get a legal representative before the hearing. Friends or relatives cannot instruct a solicitor or speak for you in court.

Find out more about legal aid for housing problems.

Last updated: 15 January 2024

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help