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Domestic abuse victims and housing

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced:

• A further £125 million in funding so that English councils can ensure that safe accommodation spaces, such as refuges and shelters, are able to provide victims with vital support services including healthcare, social workers and benefits.

• A consultation which will consider removing Local Connection Tests for abuse victims, which can stop victims from applying for social housing if they do not have a connection to a local area.

• A second consultation which will consider whether and how to change current rules that make it difficult for victims to remove their perpetrators from joint tenancies, with the consequence that victims either feel forced to stay in their home or are at risk of being made homeless by their abuser.

Consultation on local connection requirements for social housing for victims of domestic abuse

The DLUHC is seeking views on:

• Proposals to introduce regulations to enable victims of domestic abuse who need to move to another local authority district to qualify for an allocation of social housing in the new area; and

• How local authorities are making use of the existing legislation and guidance to support victims of domestic abuse who wish to move within and across local authority boundaries.

During the passage of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021 concerns were raised relating to local connection tests for domestic abuse victims who apply for social housing. The consultation closes on 10 May 2022.

Consultation on the impacts of joint tenancies on victims of domestic abuse

The DLUHC is seeking views on the impacts of the law on joint tenancies on victims of domestic abuse in the social rented sector. It is interested in whether:

• Perpetrators are using their ability to end a joint tenancy to threaten the victim with homelessness;

• Victims feel trapped in their joint tenancy with the perpetrator;

• The current guidance for social landlords is sufficient to support victims in joint tenancies; and

• The law on transferring joint tenancies is functioning successfully for victims.

During the passage of the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, concerns were raised over the current rules on joint tenancies, which mean that victims of domestic abuse who are in a joint tenancy with their abuser can be vulnerable to the threat of being made homeless by their abuser. Should the victim want to stay in the family home, there is currently no straightforward means to remove the abuser from the tenancy and remove the risk of homelessness.

The DLUHC is gathering evidence from victims, landlords, the legal profession, advisory services and other organisations and individuals associated with the domestic abuse sector with an understanding of the issues impacting victims in joint social housing tenancies.

The consultation closes on 10 May 2022.

For the announcement of these measures, including comment by the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, click here. For the consultation document on local connection requirements, click here. For the consultation document on joint tenancies, click here.

15/2/22