Housing benefit while you are away from home

You might get housing benefit if you are away from home, with certain conditions. Check if you're eligible and how long you might be able to claim housing benefit for

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 inbetween, 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.

Prisoners on remand

If you are being held in custody 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 are sentenced for more than 13 weeks, you will no longer receive housing benefit.

If you are sentenced, any other benefits you receive will also be affected.

The above rules do not apply if you are detained under the Mental Health Act. In this case, you'll count as a hospital patient (see below).

Hospital patients 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 inpatient
  • you are receiving care approved by a doctor or health professional.

Staying in a care home

If you are away from home staying in a care home you may be able to get housing benefit for your own home for up to 52 weeks while you are away, so long as you intend to return home.

However, if you are in a care home on a trial basis, you can only get housing benefit for 13 weeks.

If or when you decide you will not be going home, your housing benefit will stop immediately.

Caring for others

You can get housing benefit for up to 52 weeks if you are away from home because you are:

  • providing someone with care that has been approved by a doctor or health practitioner
  • looking after a child because their parent or guardian is receiving care that has been approved by a doctor or health practitioner
  • receiving care that has been approved by a doctor or health practitioner.

Absent due to fear of violence

You can get housing benefit for up to 52 weeks if you are absent from your home because of:

  • fear of violence in that home
  • fear of violence 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. Find out about claiming housing benefit for two homes.

Absent students

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. If this is the case speak to an adviser in your local area, 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 if you will be entitled to housing benefit, you could either contact your local council's housing benefit department or speak to an adviser in your local area

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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