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3. Keeping your private rented tenancy

Keeping your privately rented accommodation can be difficult, but not impossible. You'll need to have enough money coming in to cover the rent and rates while you’re in custody. You may be entitled to housing benefit or Universal Credit housing element while you’re in prison. 

If you are on remand, you can claim Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing Element 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 Universal Credit Housing Element for up to 13 weeks if you are being released within 13 weeks. 

If you have a joint tenancy with your partner, they must notify the Department of Work and Pensions (Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance), HMRC (Tax Credits) and Housing Benefit to advise them 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 your local council’s Housing Options Team who can try to contact your landlord for you.

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

Your landlord doesn’t have to agree to continue the tenancy, but the landlord will have to follow the legal procedures to end it. This means you'll have to be given proper legal notice to leave the property and, if you don't leave the property and return the keys by the end of this notice period, the landlord will have to go to court to get an order to end your tenancy. You will then have additional court costs when you are released from prison to pay. It is essential you contact your local Housing Options Team if your landlord is considering ending the tenancy.