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Temporary absence from the home

You can continue to receive Housing Benefit if you are temporarily away from home for up to 4, 13, 26 or 52 weeks, depending on your circumstances. 

In order to be eligible to receive housing benefit when absent, you must:

  • usually live in that home
  • intend to return to your home
  • not rent out your home while you're away

You must tell the housing benefit service in advance if you know your stay away will last more than the rules allow you. If you don't tell the housing benefit department about any change in circumstance you could be overpaid housing benefit which will then be recovered from you.

You can tell us of any changes by completing our online change of circumstances form.

Housing benefit if you are going abroad

Rules on claiming housing benefit when you are going abroad have now changed. From July 28, 2016 most applicants will only receive housing benefit for up to four weeks if you are abroad.

It counts as going abroad if you go anywhere outside of Great Britain; visits to Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man count as going abroad.

In certain circumstances however you may be entitled to benefit for a longer period, for example:

  • 8 weeks where your absence is connected to the death of a close relative
  • 26 weeks when you are getting medical treatment
  • 26 weeks where you  are a mariner, a continental shelf worker or you're a member of the Armed Forces posted overseas
  • 26 weeks if you are fleeing domestic violence

Housing Benefit for up to 13 weeks temporary absence

You could be eligible for housing benefit for up to 13 weeks of temporary absence if you:

  • are on holiday in Great Britain
  • are staying in a relative's home to look after them while they are ill
  • move into a care home on a trial basis to see if it meets your needs

Housing Benefit for up to 52 week temporary absence

You could be eligible for housing benefit for up to 52 weeks of temporary absence if you:

  • are fleeing home due to violence or a fear of violence
  • are a patient in hospital
  • are on a government-approved training course
  • are receiving care in a residential home
  • are providing care for a child whose parent or guardian is away from home receiving medical treatment

If you are absent from home again

If you return to your home for at least 24 hours, your period of absence away from your home may start again.

For example, you were in hospital for six months and were discharged, but after a week you had to go back into hospital, you can then get housing benefit for up to another 52 weeks.

This does not apply to if you are a convicted prisoner allowed home on temporary release.

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