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.
Help in prison
Housing Rights has advice staff who work in Hydebank, Maghaberry and Magilligan prisons. You can ask these people for help sorting out your housing problems or you can get a friend or family member to call the Housing Rights advice line on your behalf.
If you're a Housing Executive or housing association tenant you can ask the housing adviser in your prison for help filling in a non-abandonment form. This form will tell the Housing Executive that you intend to return to your tenancy when you leave prison.
If you own your home and are still paying the mortgage, you need to tell your mortgage provider what's happening. If you fall behind with your mortgage payments, your lender may try to take possession of your house and you may lose your home due to arrears.
Paying for your home while in prison
When you tell your landlord or your lender that you have been imprisoned, it is likely that they will be concerned with how you plan to keep paying for your housing. Don't avoid this subject. You might be entitled to help from housing benefit or Support for Mortgage Interest. For homeowners, there might be steps that mortgage lenders can take to help you keep on top of payments - such as converting the loan to interest only for a while or extending the time on the mortgage.
If you feel that you need help talking to your landlord or your lender, staff at the Offender Management Unit or the Housing Advice Development Worker in your prison may be able to help you.