Tell us if you're going to be temporarily absent from your home

You need to tell us if you are going to be temporarily absent from your normal address, as it may affect your Housing Benefit.

How long you can be absent from your home and continue to claim Housing Benefit depends on the reason why you are going to be away, and whether you will be remaining in Great Britain. But in all circumstances you must:

  • intend to return home
  • not be away from your home for longer than the period allowed for your circumstances
  • not sub-let your home while you are away
Circumstances of absenceWithin Great Britain*Outside
Great Britain
You are detained on remand pending trial or sentence, or are living somewhere else as part of the conditions of your bail 52 weeks 4 weeks
You are a patient staying in a hospital or similar institution 52 weeks 26 weeks
Your partner or dependent child is undergoing medical treatment or medically approved convalescence and staying away from your home 52 weeks 26 weeks
You are on a training course 52 weeks 4 weeks
You are providing medically-approved care for somebody else 52 weeks 4 weeks
You are caring for a child whose parent/guardian is temporarily absent because they are receiving medically-approved care or medical treatment 52 weeks 4 weeks
You are receiving medically-approved care that's being provided in accommodation, other than a care home 52 weeks 26 weeks
You are a student 52 weeks 4 weeks
You are receiving care in a care home (not as part of a trial stay) 52 weeks 4 weeks
You have moved into a care home on a trial basis to see whether it meets your needs, and intend to return home if the care home isn't suitable 13 weeks 4 weeks
You have left your home through fear of violence 52 weeks 26 weeks
You are absent due to the death of:
  • your partner
  • a child who you or your partner is responsible for
  • a close relative
  • a close relative of your partner
  • a close relative of a child or young person who you or your partner is responsible for
13 weeks 4 weeks
(plus an additional 4 weeks if we consider it unreasonable for you to return home within the first 4 weeks)
You are a member of the Armed Forces and have been posted overseas 13 weeks 26 weeks
You are a mariner or Continental Shelf Worker 13 weeks 26 weeks
Any other temporary absence (eg a holiday) 13 weeks 4 weeks

Great Britain refers to England, Scotland and Wales but does not include Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

If you are initially staying away from home within Great Britain, but then go overseas

A period spent away from home, but staying within Great Britain, can be followed by a period staying overseas without affecting your Housing Benefit claim, as long as while you are overseas you remain entitled to Housing Benefit according to the 'absence from Great Britain' guidance, as detailed in the table above.

For example:

  • A claimant is a reserve member of Her Majesty's forces. She is posted overseas.
  • Before she leaves Great Britain she spends 4 weeks training at an army barracks, staying away from home.
  • After she has completed the 4 weeks training she leaves Great Britain. She expects to be overseas for 8 weeks.
  • She returns home from overseas, having been away from home for 12 weeks in total. She has therefore been able to continue to claim Housing Benefit, as her total absence from home was less than 13 weeks.


  • If she knew that after her training she would then be overseas for more than 9 weeks, her Housing Benefit entitlement would end from the Monday following the start of her training. This is because she is going to be away from home for more than 13 weeks.
  • If she initially expected to be overseas for 8 weeks, but the period was subsequently extended to more than 9 weeks, her Housing Benefit entitlement would end from the Monday after she found out that the period she would be overseas had been extended.

If you know that you're going to be away from home for a temporary period, please let us know as soon as possible.

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Page last updated: 17 August 2021

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