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Prison or Youth Detention

People released from Prison or Youth Detention Accommodation

Keeping your home whilst you are detained

If you own your own home, or are the tenant of a private rented property, or a tenant with a Council or Housing Association, there may be a way of keeping your home whilst you are in custody. It may be easier to keep your home if you are serving a short sentence or being held on remand, but the options will depend on your circumstances and your ability to pay your housing costs whilst you are in custody. You may be entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit whilst you are in custody.

If you will accrue rent or mortgage arrears, leading to large debts, then it may not be a good idea for you to try and keep your home, particularly as legal action to end your tenancy or gain possession to your home may mean you lose your possessions.

You can contact your Resettlement Officer or Catch 22 if you want further advice on your options. They may be able to arrange a time for the Council's Housing Options Team to call you to help you to claim benefits or give you further advice on what help is available to help you keep your home.

Keeping private rented accommodation

Keeping your privately rented accommodation whilst you are in custody may be difficult, but not impossible.

You will need to be able to pay your rent and rates while you are in custody. If you are on remand, you can claim housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit for up to 52 weeks if you are likely to return home in a year or less. If you have been sentenced, you can claim housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit for up to 13 weeks if you are being released within 13 weeks.

For more information on housing benefit visit Housing Benefit & Council Tax Support

For information on applying for the housing element of Universal Credit visit GOV.UK Apply for Universal Credit.

If you have a joint tenancy with your partner, and are in receipt of benefits (income benefits, tax credits and housing benefit) your partner should contact the appropriate agency to tell them that you are not currently living at the property.

If you rent privately, you must tell your landlord about your absence and let your landlord know that you intend to return to your home after release. You should telephone or write a letter to your landlord or you can contact the Council's Housing Options Team who can try to contact your landlord for you. The Housing Options Team can be contacted on tel. 01237 428700 or by email at housing.options@torridge.gov.uk.

If you do not tell your landlord what is happening, they could think you have abandoned the property and take legal action to end your tenancy.

Your landlord does not have to agree to continue the tenancy whilst you are in custody, but will have to follow the correct legal procedure to end your tenancy. This means you will have to be given proper legal notice to leave the property and, if you do not leave the property and return the keys by the end of the notice period, the landlord will have to go to court to get an order to end your tenancy. It is likely that you will have to pay the court costs. It is advisable for you to contact the Housing Options Team to ask for support and advice if your landlord is considering ending the tenancy. The Housing Options Team can be contacted on tel. 01237 428700 or by email at housing.options@torridge.gov.uk.

Keeping a Housing Association tenancy

You may not lose your Housing Association tenancy because you have been placed in custody. Your landlord will consider the length of your sentence and nature of your offence. You may be in breach of your tenancy conditions if you have committed certain offences and the Housing Association may consider asking you to leave your home. The Housing Association will have to follow the correct legal procedure to end your tenancy.

You must notify your landlord of your absence as soon as you can. Let the Housing Association know that you intend to return to your home after release. You should ask a Prison Resettlement Officer or contact the Housing Options Team to liaise with your landlord on your behalf if you cannot do this yourself. If you do not let the Housing Association know that you are not currently living in the property, they may think that you have abandoned the property and could terminate your tenancy.

You may want to consider the possibility of asking someone to live in your home as a nominated person whilst you are in prison. This is someone appointed by you to live in your home and pay the rent in your absence. You will need the Housing Association's consent for this arrangement. You can get a family member or friend to live in the property and pay rent while you are in prison.

A nominated person will not usually be entitled to housing benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit unless he or she was living with you in the property as part of your household before you were sentenced. A nominated person has no tenancy rights unless you are married (Matrimonial Rights). All tenancy rights and responsibilities remain with you as the legal tenant.

If you have a joint tenancy with your partner, and are in receipt of benefits (income benefits, tax credits and housing benefit) your partner should contact the appropriate agency to tell them that you are not currently living at the property.

Keeping a home that you own

If you own your home and pay a mortgage on it, you will need to notify your mortgage lender that you are in prison.

Depending on the nature of your custody, you may be eligible for some help with your mortgage costs. Alternatively, you could try negotiating with your lender about freezing your payments for the duration of your prison term. If you miss your mortgage payments whilst you are in prison, you will end up in debt and your house may be repossessed. You may wish to consider selling your home to prevent this from happening, or you could think about letting the property to someone and using the rent to pay your mortgage, but you will need your mortgage lender's permission to do this.

Ask the Resettlement Team or Catch 22 for additional support with debt and mortgage problems or to contact the Council's Housing Options team for help. The Housing Options Team can be contacted on tel. 01237 428700 or by email at housing.options@torridge.gov.uk.

Paying council tax whilst you are detained

If you can show that you are in prison you can apply for an exclusion from paying council tax. Your house needs to be vacant and your only home to qualify for this exclusion.

If you have a partner and they are the only adult remaining in the home, they may be eligible for the Single Person Discount which is a 25% reduction in council tax whilst you are in prison.

For more information please visit Council Tax or telephone 01237 428700 and select the option for council tax.

Keeping a placement in supported accommodation

If you were living in supported accommodation when you were detained, the likelihood of this accommodation remaining available to you may depend on whether you had an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) or a licence agreement. Most supported accommodation is let on a licence, and this means that placements can be brought to an end quickly without the need to go to court.

It is important that you contact your accommodation provider to tell them what has happened; they will then advise you if the accommodation will be available to you on release. You can contact your Resettlement Officer for help and support in making contact with your support provider, or contact the Council's Housing Options Team. The Housing Options Team can be contacted on tel. 01237 428700 or by email at housing.options@torridge.gov.uk.

Preparing for your release

If you were homeless before you were detained and will have nowhere to stay when released, or you lose your home whilst being detained, it is important that you ask for information and advice about your housing options as early as possible. You do not need to know when you will be released in order to be given information and advice from your Resettlement Officer or the Council's Housing Options Team.

You can contact friends or family to see if you can stay with anyone when you are released. You should also discuss with your Resettlement Officer whether referrals to supported accommodation can be made for you. It is important that you tell your Resettlement Officer if you will not have anywhere to stay on release.

You should also consider contacting other services that you may need on release, such as the Together drug and alcohol service, your GP and social services.

If you are going to be homeless on release

If you are going to be homeless within 56 days and you are not already working with a local housing authority, the prison or youth detention centre is under a duty to refer you to a local housing authority of your choice. You will need to give your consent for a referral to be made and for your contact details to be given to the local housing authority so that you can be contacted. Before a referral is made you should be told about local connection, and how this will be a consideration if you become homeless.

If a referral is made to Torridge District Council, the Housing Options Team will seek to arrange a telephone assessment of your housing and support needs, and try to help you to secure accommodation on release from prison. You can be referred to supported accommodation if you have additional support needs and wish to be considered for supported accommodation.

For more detailed information about making a homeless application please visit Homeless or threatened with homelessness?

Will the Council offer me temporary accommodation on release?

If you have been in contact with the Council before your release, then it is likely that the Council would already have made some inquiries about you and told you whether you will be offered interim temporary accommodation on release.

If you have not been working with the Council before your release, the Council will have to make some inquiries before telling you whether you will be offered interim temporary accommodation.

You will only be offered interim temporary accommodation if the Council has reason to believe that you are:

  • Eligible for assistance - that you have a right to work and stay in the UK
  • Homeless - you have no accommodation available to you that you can access in the UK or abroad
  • In priority need - you are considered to be 'vulnerable'. You may be 'vulnerable' if, for example, you have a disability or a serious health condition and this would make it difficult for you to cope when homeless; putting you at greater risk of harm than an 'ordinary person' if they were homeless

If you are offered interim temporary accommodation, you may be offered shared accommodation, a room in a hostel, or bed and breakfast accommodation. If the Council decides, after further inquiries, that you are not in priority your interim temporary accommodation will be brought to an end, with reasonable notice, whilst work continues to help you find housing.

For more detailed information on making a homeless application please visit Homeless or threatened with homelessness?

What information will the Council need from me when I approach for help?

You will be asked to provide documents and information to support your homeless application and these will include:

  • proof of ID
  • proof of National Insurance Number
  • your address history for the last 5 years
  • proof of any medical conditions and medication that you have been prescribed
  • details of any other agencies supporting you

For more detailed information on making a homeless application please visit Homeless or threatened with homelessness?