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Benefit payments during a temporary absence from home

What if I temporarily leave my home?

Please see the table at the bottom of the page. The table lists how long you can be temporarily absent. This is either at home (Great Britain) or abroad and the circumstances which apply to each case.

We usually only pay Housing Benefit to a person who lives in a property as their home. In certain circumstances, we can continue to pay you benefit while you are temporarily away from home. To decide if we can pay you benefit while you are away from home, we need to know:

  • why you are away from your home, and
  • how long you will be away

If we continue to pay you benefit while you are away, we must decide how long for. Depending on the reason for the absence, this will be either 13 weeks or 52 weeks.

Qualifying conditions

To continue to receive Housing Benefit while you are away, you must meet the following conditions

  • You must be planning to return home
  • You must not re-let or sublet your home while you are away
  • You must not be away for more than 13 weeks or 52 weeks

People claiming who fall under the 13-week rule

  • Convicted prisoners serving a custodial sentence
  • People who are away from home doing paid or unpaid work in the United Kingdom or abroad
  • People who enter residential accommodation on a temporary basis. This to find out whether it would suit them as a permanent home
  • People who are on holiday or visiting relatives away from home or abroad

People claiming who fall under the 52-week rule

  • Prisoners remanded in custody, awaiting trial or awaiting sentence. This includes people in bail hostels
  • Hospital inpatients
  • People receiving medical treatment or medically approved convalescence for themselves, a partner, or child
  • People providing medically approved care. This means care certified by a medical practitioner
  • People receiving respite care in residential accommodation, but not a person who lives in a residential care home on a trial basis

People claiming who are in legal custody

  • A person on remand is entitled to receive Housing Benefit for up to 52 weeks from the date on which the absence started
  • If they are then convicted, they will fall under the 13-week rule

If the person claiming has a partner, we may ask the partner to claim benefit during the period of absence. They can be counted as being liable to pay rent while the person claiming is away.

You must tell us immediately if you are held on remand, released, or convicted.

People claiming who are in residential care homes

  • People who are in a residential care home to receive respite care. This falls under the 52-week rule
  • People who go into residential accommodation on a trial basis. This is to see whether they would like to make it their permanent home. This falls under the 13-week rule

You must tell us immediately when you are going into residential care.

If you decide to stay in residential care permanently, you must tell us immediately. We will cancel your benefit from the Sunday following the date which the decision was made.

People claiming who are in hospital

Hospital inpatients fall under the 52-week rule. You must plan to return to your usual home. The property must not be relet or sublet while you are away.

People claiming who have gone abroad

Abroad means outside of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

If you go abroad for:

  • a holiday;
  • religious reasons, or
  • domestic reasons

you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit on your usual home for up to 4 weeks. We may ask to see evidence of how you have paid for the trip. We may ask how you have supported yourself (and any family) while you are away from home. If you have told us that you will be away for a certain period of time, you must tell us when you return. If you do not tell us at the expected return date, we may suspend your claim.

Always get advice about all benefits before going abroad.

Temporary absence table

Reason for Absence Within Great Britain Outside Great Britain
A person detained on remand pending trial or sentence upon conviction. A condition of bail is to reside in a dwelling other than their home 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person in a hospital or similar institution as a patient 52 weeks 26 weeks
A person, their partner, or dependent child undergoing medical treatment. This could be medically approved convalescence in accommodation other than residential accommodation 52 weeks 26 weeks
A training course 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is absent and undertaking medically approved care of a person residing in Great Britain or elsewhere 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is caring for a child whose parent or guardian is temporarily absent from the home of that parent or guardian. They could be receiving medically approved care or medical treatment 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving medically approved care. This can be provided in accommodation other than residential accommodation 52 weeks 26 weeks
An eligible student 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving care in residential accommodation. The person is not staying on a trial basis to ascertain if the accommodation suits their needs 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who has left their home through fear of violence 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who enters residential accommodation on a trial basis to ascertain if it meets their needs. This is with the intention of returning home 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is absent from Great Britain in connection with:
  • the death of their partner
  • the death of a child for whom he or his partner is responsible
  • the person's close relative
  • a close relative of the person's partner
  • a close relative of a child or young person. That is, if this person, or the person's partner is responsible.
13 weeks 4 weeks, plus an additional 4 weeks. This is if the Decision Maker considers it unreasonable for the claimant to return home within the first 4 weeks.
A member of Her Majesty's forces posted overseas 13 weeks 26 weeks
A mariner 13 weeks 26 weeks
Continental shelf worker 13 weeks 26 weeks
Any other temporary absence. For example, a holiday 13 weeks 4 weeks