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Temporary absence from home

What happens if I'm temporarily absent from my home?

Housing Benefit cannot normally be paid unless you're living at the property where you're claiming.

This means that if you're temporarily absent from your normal home, you must advise the Revenues & Benefits Service immediately.

There are different rules depending on whether the address that you're temporarily staying at is within Great Britain or outside Great Britain. Great Britain means England, Scotland and Wales but does not include Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Generally, if you're absent from your home for less than 13 weeks and temporarily living somewhere else within Great Britain you will continue to be entitled to Housing Benefit in respect of your normal home. In some circumstances you can be absent elsewhere in Great Britain for up to 52 weeks, but in all situations:

  • You must intend to return home; and
  • Your home must not have been sub-let to somebody else; and
  • Your total period of absence must not be intended to exceed the time limits shown below:
Circumstances of absenceWithin Great BritainOutside
Great Britain
Someone who's detained on remand pending trial or sentence upon conviction or as a condition of bail to live somewhere other than in their normal home 52 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's 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
Someone who's on a training course 52 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's providing medically-approved care for somebody else 52 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's caring for child whose parent/guardian is temporarily absent from the home of that parent/guardian, and the parent/guardian is receiving medically-approved care or medical treatment 52 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's receiving medically-approved care that's being provided in accommodation other than a care home 52 weeks 26 weeks
Someone who's an eligible student 52 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's receiving care in a care home provided they're not staying on a trial basis to decide whether the care home suits their needs 52 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's left their home through fear of violence 52 weeks 26 weeks
Someone who's moved into a care home on a trial basis to decide whether it meets their needs and they intend to return to their normal home if the care home isn't suitable 13 weeks 4 weeks
Someone who's absent due to the death of:
  • Their partner
  • A child for whom they or their partner is responsible
  • A close relative
  • A close relative of their partner
  • A close relative of a child or young person for whom the person or their partner is responsible
13 weeks 4 weeks 
(plus an additional 4 weeks if we consider it unreasonable for you to return home within the first 4 weeks)
A member of Her Majesty's forces who has been posted overseas 13 weeks 26 weeks
A mariner or Continental Shelf Worker 13 weeks 26 weeks
Any other temporary absence (eg a holiday) 13 weeks 4 weeks

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What happens if a period of temporary absence is initially within Great Britain and then outside Great Britain?

When considering the 13 week period under the 'general rule' for absences within Great Britain, a period of absence within Great Britain may be followed by a period of absence outside Great Britain provided that, whilst outside Great Britain you remained entitled to Housing Benefit under the absence from Great Britain rules in the middle column of the table above.

For example:

  • A claimant is a reserve member of Her Majesty's forces and is posted overseas
  • Before she leaves Great Britain she spends 4 weeks undertaking refresher training at an army barracks in Great Britain
  • She leaves Great Britain after the 4 week training and expects to be overseas for 8 weeks
  • She returns to her normal home after 12 weeks so her Housing Benefit entitlement would continue because her total absence from home was less than 13 weeks

However, if:

  • It was known that the period overseas would be more than 9 weeks, her Housing Benefit entitlement would end from the Monday following the start of refresher training. This is because the total period of absence would exceed 13 weeks
  • If the period overseas was initially expected to be 8 weeks but was subsequently extended to more than 9 weeks, her Housing Benefit entitlement would end from the Monday following the date when it was known that the period overseas would be extended

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What should I do if I'm going to be temporarily away from my normal home?

As soon as you know that you'll be away from home for a temporary period, please advise the Revenues & Benefits Service immediately.

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