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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 which lists how long you can be temporarily absent either at home (Great Britain) or abroad and the circumstances which apply to each case.

We can usually only pay Housing Benefit to a person who lives in a property as their home. However, 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 decide that we can continue to pay you benefit while you are away, we must then decide how long we can continue to pay you. 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 from home 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 to find out whether, or not, 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
  • However, if they are then convicted, they will fall under the 13-week rule

If the person claiming has a partner who normally lives in the property with them, we may ask them to claim Housing Benefit in their own right during the period of absence as 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 fall under the 52-week rule
  • People who go into residential accommodation on a trial basis to see whether they would like to make it their permanent home fall under the 13-week rule

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

As soon as you have decided that you will be staying in residential care permanently, you must tell us immediately. We will cancel your benefit from the Sunday following the date which the decision to stay permanently was made.

People claiming who are in hospital

Hospital inpatients fall under the 52-week rule. As with all other absences from home, you must plan to return to your usual home and 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, or religious, or domestic reasons, you may be entitled to claim Housing Benefit on your usual home for up to 4 weeks. In some cases we may ask to see evidence of how you have paid for the trip and 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

Circumstances of Absence Within Great Britain Outside Great Britain
A person detained on remand pending trial or sentence upon conviction or as a condition of bail 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, 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 child whose parent or guardian is temporarily absent from the home of that parent or guardian and receiving medically approved care or medical treatment 52 weeks 4 weeks
A person who is receiving medically approved care 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 and is not staying on a trial basis to ascertain if the accommodation suits his 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 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 or a child for whom he or his partner is responsible, the person's close relative, a close relative of the person's partner or a close relative of a child or young person for whom the person or person's partner is responsible 13 weeks 4 weeks plus additional 4 weeks 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, holiday 13 weeks 4 weeks