1. Local connection - advice for prisoners
Going into custody doesn't mean you have to lose your home. There may be ways of keeping your home if you own your home, rent privately, or are a tenant with a council or a housing association.
The options will depend on your individual circumstances and your ability to pay your housing costs while in prison. It may not always be the best option to try and keep your home. You may accrue rent or mortgage arrears leading to large debts when you are released from prison. Legal action may be taken to end your tenancy or gain possession to your home which could also mean you lose your possessions. It is important to get advice quickly to choose what is best for you in your situation.
We have a duty to provide advice and assistance on your housing options. If you are threatened with homelessness within 56 days any local council will be able to offer you what is known as the Prevention Duty. This will include taking a homeless application and providing advice and support to try and prevent you becoming homeless. However, if you are homeless when you are released from prison that authority may refer to what is known as the Relief Duty to the local authority where you have a local connection.
A local connection is usually where you normally live, where you lived prior to going into prison or an area in which you have immediate family members living. There are exceptions to these local connection rules, for example if the Police feel you would be at risk of violence if you were to return to your own area they may support you in applying to a different area for assistance.
If you were homeless before you went into prison, or you can’t go back to your former home, you will need to arrange alternative housing for when you leave prison. The worst case scenario may be you having nowhere to go on your release from prison.
Whatever your circumstances, it is very important that you get advice about your housing situation. Your prison may have resettlement officers or Catch 22 who can help you access advice. They may be able to assist you in contacting your local council Housing Options Team or other agencies that may be able to assist you whilst you are in prison. You can talk to these agencies if you're worried about your housing options or you can ask a friend or family member to contact us to discuss your options, provided that you give them written permission to talk to us about your housing situation.