When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Keeping your home if sentenced

You may get help with your housing costs while you are in prison. But, the amount you will get and the length of time you can claim for depend on whether you already receive Universal Credit and on how long you will spend in custody.  

Already claiming Universal Credit

If you are already getting Universal Credit, you will be able to continue getting the help with housing costs element of this benefit as long as you aren't going to be in custody for more than six months. All other elements of your Universal Credit claim will stop. 

It's not possible to make a new claim for Universal Credit once you are in custody, so if you weren't receiving benefits when you were taken into custody you will probably not be entitled to any help with your rent, unless your home is in an area which doesn't use Universal Credit yet. 

Already receiving Housing Benefit or living outside Universal Credit area

If you don't live in a Universal Credit area, or if you were already receiving Housing Benefit when you were taken into custody, you may be able to get help to pay your rent from Housing Benefit, although this depends on how long you will spend in custody. 

You can claim housing benefit to help cover your rent and rates payments while you're in prison as long as your sentence is no more than 13 weeks.   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. 

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. 


If you live with a partner, your partner might be able to claim Support for Mortgage Interest to help with mortgage 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.