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Rent Issues: Occupying - Other Absences
Any reason for absence not specified in the Regulations as a 52 week absence comes under the 13 week rule by default (or 4 weeks if outside Great Britain*).

In other words, so long as the claimant has not sublet the property and intends to return home, they can continue to receive HB on their normal home as long as their total absence is not going to exceed 13 weeks.  If it is, then no HB is paid. For instance if someone goes on holiday in Great Britain* for 14 weeks, no HB is paid at all as their total absence exceeds 13 weeks.

It is the intention to return that is crucial: as soon as it is apparent that the claimant does not intend to return, HB ceases from the point at which there was no intention to return within the 13 week period.

However if they intended to return within 13 weeks but their stay had to be extended for a reason specified in the Regulations as allowing 52 weeks' absence, then they will retain entitlement to HB for up to 52 weeks. This would include being held on remand, being in hospital or receiving medically approved care, or giving medically approved care to someone else.

*NOTE: Absences outside Great Britain are restricted to 4 weeks (with a few exceptions) - click here.
Property closed by the police
If the claimant's home has been served with a closure order by the Police, you may wonder if HB can be paid during the period of the closure.

It is the claimant's circumstances that are relevant here as their absence from the property falls under the general rules; however the HB Office may look into whether or not the property was indeed the claimant's home or just a place for dealing / taking drugs.

In other words, so long as the claimant:

  • Was living in the property as their home.
  • Intends to return.
  • Is able to return within 13 weeks (unless being held on remand or is in hospital).
  • Has not sublet the property (highly unlikely!!!!!!). And
  • Is not claiming HB elsewhere.

They can continue to receive HB as long as they have a 'live' HB claim for the period of the absence (see below for more info).

If there is no intention to return or they are unable to return within 13 weeks, no HB is paid at all during the period of the closure.

It is the intention to return that is crucial: as soon as it is apparent that the claimant does not intend to return, HB ceases.

So if the claimant can return within 13 weeks from when the house is first closed but then the Police obtain an extension of the closure so that the claimant is not going to be able to return within 13 weeks, they will not be entitled to any HB from the date the extension was approved.

HB on 2 homes

If the claimant has moved into rented accommodation and is claiming HB on this second property, they will not be able to claim HB on the closed home unless they can show that the main reason they left the property was because they were fleeing violence.

13 weeks

Most closures are for three months* - so theoretically the claimant should return within 13 weeks. But to be sure, you will have to find out the exact date the claimant first left the property, the date they will be able to return and the date they intend to return.

The rules say they must intend to return within 13 weeks, so if they left the property on a Wednesday, they would need to be considered back in the property by the Tuesday at the end of the 12th week. In CH/0378/2011 the Judge decided that when looking at the 13 weeks 'the day a claimant leaves his or her home is to be included. Conversely, the day of return must then be excluded' ie the period of absence would end on the day before they return to their property.

*Three months is three calendar months, eg three months from 5th July is 4th October.

What if the closure could be extended by the Police?

It is not the Police's intentions that count, but the claimant's. As long as the claimant has an intention to return and could do so within 13 weeks, HB should be paid. As soon as it becomes obvious that the claimant cannot return within 13 weeks then HB would stop at this point, but any HB already paid prior to this point would be 'safe'.

Some HB Offices may argue that the intention to return is dependent upon the actions of a third party and therefore an intention to return cannot be shown. However, they could apply this to many of the temporary absence rules eg fleeing violence, but do not, and so if your HB Office is taking this approach it should be challenged.





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