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When everyone has a home

Housing advice for Northern Ireland

Release date

You need to sort out some sort of accommodation if you don't have a home to go or family that you can stay with after you've been released from prison.

It is not uncommon for a person to be released from prison with nowhere to live. Get an appointment with the housing adviser or staff at the Offender Management Unit in your prison if you think you may be homeless on release.

Going into custody doesn’t necessarily mean losing your home. Depending on your circumstances, there may be ways of keeping your home while you’re in prison.

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 ask the Housing Executive for help in the three months up to your release date. The housing adviser in your prison can help you with this. 

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.

If you pass all four homelessness tests, you will be given Full Duty Applicant status and will be entitled to offers of permanent accommodation from the Housing Executive and housing associations. If you fail the tests, you can ask to be assessed under the Selection Scheme. You can also challenge the Housing Executive's decision if you fail any of the tests.

If you have nowhere to live after your release from prison, you may need to look into emergency accommodation options, such as hostels and nightshelters.

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