We work closely with Youth Offending Services and children’s social care services to ensure joint and advanced planning for the needs of young people leaving custody.
Some criminal justice services are subject to the ‘Duty to Refer’, meaning they are required to refer service users in England they consider may be homeless or threatened with homelessness within 56 days to a local housing authority, with the service user’s consent:
- prisons (public and private);
- young offender institutions;
- secure training centres;
- secure colleges;
- youth offending teams; and,
- probation providers (CRCs and NPS).
The Duty to Refer form for Rother District Council Housing can be found here
Help to secure private rented accommodation
In order to determine what assistance the council can provide to help a person secure private rented accommodation the housing department first needs to fully assess the person’s circumstances and what they can afford to pay for housing. Following assessment and completion of a Personal Housing Plan (PHP) Rother District Council may be able to offer a loan of rent and deposit in advance and support from a tenancy sustainment officer to settle a person into accommodation. Before an appointment can be arranged, each homeless household needs to complete the online housing application which can be accessed here.
Maintaining an existing tenancy when going into custody
If you already hold a tenancy but are worried you could lose this when you go into custody, then the Shelter website can provide advice on retaining your tenancy whilst in custody and how to surrender a tenancy, if that is the best option, so you do not get into rent arrears.
It is important not to give up a tenancy when you could have kept it, so that the council doesn’t decide that you are intentionally homeless, because this would mean that you’d only be entitled to limited help from the council if you’re homeless when you’re released.
Housing Benefit can sometimes be paid to prisoners. You may get housing benefit if you are remanded into custody, sent to prison, bailed to an alternative address or given a home detention curfew. Housing Benefit can sometimes help pay your rent if you are in prison, but only for 13 weeks (if you have been sentenced) or 52 weeks (if you have been remanded in custody). You can only get housing benefit if you intend to return to your existing home and you’ll need to make a new claim if you are not receiving housing benefit already.
If you are a Rother resident and are already claiming Housing Benefit you must update your housing benefit account if you are remanded in custody, sentenced or released. It’s your responsibility to tell the council about any changes in your circumstances.
Tenancy rights and how to protect a tenancy
If you are worried that you may receive a custodial sentence and you live in a social housing tenancy you must seek support from your social housing landlord. They can advise you how to protect your tenancy whilst in prison. This may include you asking your landlord to:
- board up your home (you might have to contribute towards the costs of this);
- allow a nominated person to live in your home.
Any nominated person living in your home would need to pay the rent on your property, as well as look after the property, and this person might not be entitled to housing benefit to help with paying rent.
If your landlord does not allow a nominated person to look after your tenancy, you can still ask a trusted friend or a relative to keep an eye on your home from time to time, but if they move in, it will affect your housing benefit entitlement.
If you are not returning to your home, your landlord might store your belongings. If your landlord agrees to this it will likely only be for a short time and you will need to arrange somewhere else for them to go. Your landlord may also charge you for this service.
Rother Housing register
This is the link to the eligibility criteria for anyone wishing to join the Rother Housing register for social housing. However, anyone currently in prison is unable to join the housing register, as defined in Rother District Council’s Housing Allocation Policy.
What other sources of support are available to help me secure accommodation or keep an existing accommodation?
There are a number of organisations working at a national level to support young people and those with an offending history.
Shelter can provide assistance and advice for ex -prisoners and people who have been sentenced to custody. This information is varied and includes advice around emergency accommodation, applying to a local council and the tests that the council will assess a homeless person against, including local connection, benefit advice, including payment of housing benefit and supporting rent whilst in custody.
YMCA is the largest provider of safe, supported accommodation for young people in England and Wales. They offer more than 9,100 beds, which includes everything from emergency accommodation through to supported longer-term housing and youth hostels and may be an avenue for a young person who has left custody.
Over the last 50 years, Nacro has developed specialist housing knowledge and expertise in delivering housing solutions for vulnerable groups.
They currently provide a range of accommodation options including:
- Supported Housing
- Floating support services
- Nacro’s social lettings agency – Nacro Homes Agency
They also have expertise in meeting the specific needs of:
- People who have been homeless
- Care Leavers
- Young People (Including Teenage Parents)
- Former members of the Regular Armed Forces
- Victims of Domestic Abuse
- People experiencing Mental Illness or Impairment
- People experiencing Alcohol or Drug Issues
- People leaving prison
- People in wider contact with the Criminal Justice System
Depaul works in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities, looking to prevent homelessness and provide support to vulnerable young people at every step of their journey.
From emergency accommodation to longer-term housing and outreach services in the community, they provide immediate solutions for young people in crisis.
They support young people by:
• Offering a safe place to stay in a crisis,
• Helping them to take the step from homelessness into stable housing, and
• Providing specialist long-term support to help get lives back on track.
You need to know your rights and responsibilities in relation to any housing issue. The Citizens Advice pages can provide you with information about how to go about renting or buying a home or just finding somewhere to live. You can also find advice on handling problems with your landlord and help to avoid losing your home.