You normally have to be living in a property in order to claim and receive housing benefit. However, in certain circumstances you may be able to claim for a property that you're not actually living in. The length of time that you can claim for depends on why you can't live in the property.
You may be able to get a loan to help with your mortgage payments while you are in prison. But, this depends on what benefits you were claiming before you went in and on how long you'll be in prison for. Someone who was living with you may be able to claim help to pay the mortgage if you cannot.
You might not be able to keep your home if you are going to be in prison for a long time, or you can't go back to it because it isn't safe for you or someone else. Talk to the housing adviser in your prison if you want to give up your home.
If you pass all four homelessness tests, or hurdles, you will be awarded Full Duty Applicant status. Full Duty Applicants are entitled to offers of permanent accommodation from the Housing Executive and housing associations.
The Housing Executive will have a duty to offer you accommodation if it is satisfied that you are a Full Duty Applicant. You will be a Full Duty Applicant if you pass all 4 homeless tests also known as “hurdles”.
You can present as homeless to the Housing Executive either on the outside, after your release from prison, or from inside the prison while you are still in custody. The Housing Executive must help you if it thinks you are homeless, or about to become homeless in the next 28 days.