Housing Benefit while away from your home
In some circumstances you can continue to get housing benefit even if you’re temporarily away from home.
To keep getting housing benefit when you’re temporarily away, you must:
- usually live in that home
- intend to return to your home
- not rent out your home while you’re away
The length of time you can get housing benefit for depends on your situation.
If you have not moved into a new home
Housing Benefit is normally only paid from the date that you actually move into your home. If your tenancy agreement starts before you move in, you will have to pay the rent yourself for the period in between, unless there were exceptional circumstances that prevented you from moving in earlier – for example, you accepted a new tenancy but were then taken into hospital.
See the page on Housing Benefit for two homes
Prisoner on remand
If you are being held in custody, on remand, pending your trial or sentencing, or have to stay somewhere that is not your home as a condition of bail, you can continue to get housing benefit for up to 52 weeks.
If you have been sentenced and are in prison, you can only get housing benefit for up to 13 weeks. It is likely that any other benefits you receive will also be affected.
Hospital patient or receiving medically approved care
You can have housing benefit paid for up to 52 weeks if you are away from home because:
- you are a hospital in-patient
- you are receiving care approved by a doctor or health professional
- you are receiving care in a residential home
- you are providing care for a child whose parent or guardian is away from home receiving medical treatment.
If you are in a care home on a trial basis, you can only get housing benefit for 13 weeks. If and when you decide that you will not be going home, your housing benefit will stop immediately.
Absent due to fear of violence
You can get housing benefit for up to 52 weeks if you are temporarily absent from your home because of:
- fear of violence in that home, or
- fear of violence outside the home from a former family member.
You may also be able to claim housing benefit for the accommodation you are staying in while you are away from home. See the page on Housing Benefit for two homes to find out more.
If you are a student who gets housing benefit and you need to be away from your home, you may be able to get housing benefit for that home for up to 52 weeks. Seek advice, as this is a rare situation.
Where can I get help and advice?
If you are going to be away from home and you are not sure whether you will be entitled to housing benefit, you could either contact your local housing benefit department or speak to an adviser.