UK’s first protocol to decrease domestic abuse-related homelessness introduced in Hackney 

Pic: Rusty Frank 

A protocol to reduce domestic abuse-related homelessness in social housing has been introduced in Hackney which the council claims is ‘the first of its kind in the UK.’

More than 20 of Hackney’s social housing providers have agreed to follow the new protocol and support residents experiencing domestic abuse to stay in their homes.  

The protocol consists of standards and guidelines that are meant to help social landlords protect domestic abuse victims and prevent them from becoming homeless.  

The guidelines include taking practical action, such as changing the locks, installing a video doorbell, and breaking the joint tenancy agreement with the abuser.  

The protocol was created by Hackney Council’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Service, and also provides guidance for social landlords on how they can work together with the council and other domestic abuse support agencies to help tenants who are at risk.  

Councillor Susan Fajana-Thomas OBE, cabinet member for community safety and regulatory services, said in a statement: “No one should have to face becoming homeless to escape domestic abuse. We know that it’s highly disruptive to the lives of the victims and that it also isn’t an efficient way of managing our already stretched housing resources. 

This new protocol will help us overcome both these challenges by empowering social landlords to better safeguard residents and help remove the barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. At Hackney Council, our Housing Services have a duty of care to all of our tenants and we want to extend our ways of working across all social housing.” 

According to the domestic abuse charity Refuge, 40% of homeless women said that domestic abuse contributed to their homelessness. Their research shows that the cost-of-living crisis is making it harder for domestic abuse victims to leave their abusers, as some of them are forced to choose between staying with their partner or risking extreme poverty. 

Robi Bibi, domestic abuse area manager for Hestia, a charity supporting domestic abuse victims in London, told Eastlondonlines: “We welcome Hackney Council’s proactive approach to addressing domestic abuse-related homelessness. No victim of domestic abuse should have to choose between their safety and having a roof over their head, so this policy could make a huge difference.  

New standards and guidelines for social landlords are particularly important, to protect social tenancy rights, open up more housing options, and to avoid survivors being forced to make a homelessness application and subsequently being moved to other parts of the UK, away from their support networks. 

In the context of a national housing crisis, this policy is an important step, and we hope others will follow suit. But crucially this must also be combined with sufficient decent housing options for survivors of domestic abuse, as well as housing officers who are trained in the Domestic Abuse Bill and how to communicate with survivors in a trauma-informed way.” 

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