Housing Systems: Combating poverty and sustaining tenancies.
Rent Issues: Occupying - Intention to Return


HB can continue for absences of 4, 13 or 52 weeks so long as the claimant intends to return - the time limit will depend on the reason for absence - click here.

Intention to return within the given time limit ie 4, 13 or 52 weeks, is crucial to the decision whether HB can be paid.  

  • So if it is apparent from the starts of the absence that the claimant does not intend to return within the specified maximum period they are not entitled to HB for any of that period.

  • The intention to return has to be realistic. CSHB/405/2005.

  • And if HB is in payment whilst the claimant is temporarily absent as they are due back within the 4, 13 or 52 week time limit, but then has a change or circumstances / or a change of heart, from the moment when it appears to the HB Office that the claimant does not intend to return, HB entitlement ceases (ie where rent is due weekly HB will only be paid up to the Sunday of that week)., - although they may (unless they are claiming UC in another home) be able to get HB for their notice period.

  • A return home of at least 24 hours, finishes that period of absence, and any further period away starts a new period. (HB Guidance Manual A3, 3.460) and R v Penwith ex parte Burt. This rule does not apply to prisoners on temporary release.   HB Regulation 7 para 14

  • If the claimant has left, and does not intend to return then in certain circumstances a person left at property can be treated as liable for the rent even if they are not the tenant. They can then claim HB themselves if they are in one of the categories of people who can claim HB - otherwise they will need to claim UC.

What is Intention to Return?

In deciding if HB can be paid for a period of temporary absence the HB Office must decide if the claimant has an intention to return home within the specified period (ie 4, 13 or 52 weeks - click here).

The intention has to be to return to their normal home ie the one on which they are getting HB. If they intend to come out of hospital (or similar) into a different rented property which is more suitable to their needs, this will not be classed as an intention to return home.

It is the claimant's intentions which are relevant (not the intentions of relatives, social services etc), however those intentions must be capable of being realised (CSHB/405/2005).

No intention to return

Where the claimant has no intention to return, they cannot be classed as temporarily absent and so HB will normally end. If they are leaving the property, then, so long as they are not moving to a new property where they will be claiming UC, they may be entitled to HB for their notice period.

Or, it may be that when the claimant went away they fully intended to return home, but after a spell away decided that they are not gong to be able to return to their home. In these cases the HB that was paid whilst there was an intention to return is safe, and they may be entitled to 4 weeks HB for their notice period as well, so long as they are not moving to a new property where they will be claiming UC,

For Standard Letters to use where someone is temporarily absent and intends to return go to this page- find them in the Rent Issues box.

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