Thursday, 04 September 2014 00:00

Keeping your home

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Returning to your own home after imprisonment can really help you get back on your feet. However, this won’t always be possible. - See more at: http://www.housingadviceni.org/advice-prisoners#sthash.yTtKnmVM.dpuf
Returning to your own home after imprisonment can really help you get back on your feet. However, this won’t always be possible. - See more at: http://www.housingadviceni.org/advice-prisoners#sthash.yTtKnmVM.dpuf

Returning to your own home after imprisonment can really help you get back on your feet. However, this won’t always be possible.

If you're not entitled to housing benefit or you can't pay your housing costs while in prison, trying to hold on to your home can get you in serious debt and it might be best to let it go. Before you make any decisions, talk to a housing advice worker to see what your options are.

Whether it is reasonable to keep your home or not will depend on the type of housing that you have and the length of your imprisonment. There are special considerations for tenants and owner-occupiers, as well as persons on remand and sentenced prisoners.

- See more at: http://www.housingadviceni.org/advice-prisoners/keeping-your-home#sthash.ujmrYhSp.dpuf

If you're not entitled to housing benefit or you can't pay your housing costs while in prison, trying to hold on to your home can get you in serious debt and it might be best to let it go. Before you make any decisions, talk to a housing advice worker to see what your options are.

Whether it is reasonable to keep your home or not will depend on the type of housing that you have and the length of your imprisonment. There are special considerations for tenants and owner-occupiers, as well as persons on remand and sentenced prisoners.

Keeping your home while on remand

If you are on remand awaiting trial, it is usually best that you try holding onto your home. The court may decide to release you or you may serve only a short sentence, so having a home to get back to is very important.

You can spend a significant amount of time in remand custody before your trial. If you were renting or paying a mortgage before you went to prison, you will need to find ways to continue paying for these costs. If you don’t let your landlord or your lender know what’s going on and you fail to pay the rent or your mortgage, you may eventually lose your home. This may happen even if you are only in prison for a short time.
While on remand, you may be eligible for some help with your housing costs.

Let your landlord or lender know you are absent
You might not want to tell your landlord or your mortgage lender that you're in prison. However, if you don’t inform them of your circumstances you could end up losing your home.

If you suddenly leave your house and your landlord doesn’t know what happened, he/she may think that you have abandoned the tenancy and do not wish to live in your home any longer. This can happen whether you're renting from the Housing Executive, a housing association or a private landlord. Your landlord may assume that you have left and let the house out to somebody else.

Keeping your home if sentenced

You will only be entitled to housing benefit to help with your rent and rates if the total amount of time, including any time spent on remand, that you spend in prison is 13 weeks or less. 
Sentence of 13 weeks or less

You can claim housing benefit to help cover your rent and rates payments while you're in prison.   If you're on remand and you receive a sentence that will mean your total time in prison is going to be more than 13 weeks, your housing benefit will stop on the day you're sentenced.
Sentenced to longer than 13 weeks

You won't be entitled to housing benefit if you receive a sentence of 13 weeks or longer or the total time you're going to spend in prison once you've been sentenced is more than 13 weeks.  You may be able to get permission from your landlord to have someone else move into your home and take over paying rent.  In certain circumstances, this person might be able to claim housing benefit.
Homeowners

Sentenced prisoners aren't entitled to help with their mortgage payments.  However, if you live with a partner, your partner might be able to claim Support for Mortgage Interest to help with these payments, even if his or her name isn't on the mortgage.  Speak to one of the prison housing advisers to find out more about getting help to pay your mortgage.

Giving up your home

Keeping your home is not always going to be possible. You may need to consider giving up your home if you are building up large arrears, you're going to be in prison for a long time or you can't return home because of a threat or conflict.

In such instances, it may be best to end your tenancy or sell your home.
Deciding to give up your home

There are three main things to consider when determining whether giving up your home is the best course of action:

  • How long you'll be in prison and whether you can cover your housing costs during that time
  • Whether you're building up arrears and how your landlord will react to this
  • Whether it is safe or possible for you to return to your home; a community conflict or relationship breakdown might mean you shouldn't go back.

If you choose to keep a tenancy but you've got no way to pay the rent or mortgage, and there is still time to serve on your sentence you could end up being evicted due to rent or mortgage arrears.

If the arrears get to a point where you're not going to be able to pay them off, continuing the tenancy may be unwise. Building up massive debts of having a property repossessed because of debt might make it difficult for you to get credit in the future.  You could also find that you're excluded from applying for social housing if your last tenancy was possessed because of rent arrears.

If you decide to end your tenancy or sell your home, you need to be able to show that you didn't really have a choice in the matter.  Otherwise, the Housing Executive may decide that you're made yourself homeless on purpose.  This can make it very difficult to get help from the Housing Executive.

Don't make any decisions before you've discussed all your options with a qualified housing adviser. Make sure that you consider all the other options before you take the final and difficult step of giving up your home.


Read 2810 times Last modified on Friday, 19 September 2014 22:25

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

Resources for sentenced inmates

Legal Activities and Resources


Contact Us


Email: info@federalprisons.com

Back to top