New guidance has been published by the government this week to ensure that victims of domestic violence can more easily access safe long term accommodation.
The guidance is subject to a ten week consultation process which will run until 5th January 2018.
The aim of the guidance is to make it clear to local authorities that they should treat victims of domestic abuse as a priority need for social housing. It also makes clear that the local connection provisions should be disregarded for those fleeing domestic abuse from other parts of the country. It also sets out to encourage local authorities to use their existing powers to help victims of domestic abuse to remain in their home safely without their abuser if they so wish.
A number of research projects had shown that the current homelessness guidance does not go far enough to ensure that people fleeing domestic abuse are treated as a priority and that local authorities are not consistent in their approach leading to systematic unfairness and potential discrimination
Communities Minister Lord Bourne has said “Domestic abuse is a devastating crime with complex challenges that extend far beyond the boundaries of local authorities. That’s why we’re committed to providing local authorities with the robust guidance they need to improve victim’s access to long-term and secure housing they need to rebuild their lives”
The proposed guidance is generally uncontroversial and simply seeks to set out clearly the good practice that some local authorities are already following. Some authorities are not applying the previous guidance as intended leaving vulnerable people homeless or in unsuitable accommodation. It is hoped that the new guidance will remove any confusion and unnecessary suffering.
Stephensons have a specialist team of housing lawyers who can provide advice on homelessness. Call us on 01616 966 229.