07 Dec 2020

CIH Scotland calls for Domestic Abuse Bill to be strengthened to improve the housing rights of victim-survivors

Woman crying on her sofa

CIH Scotland has commended the proposed Domestic Abuse (Protection) Bill going through the Scottish Parliament but called on its provisions to be strengthened to improve the housing rights and better protect victims of domestic abuse.

The legislation as drafted would allow a court to place a Domestic Abuse Protection Order on a named individual for up to a maximum of three months. Such an order would stop the person from entering the prescribed domestic setting. The legislation will also allow for social landlords to apply to a court to end a perpetrator interest a joint tenancy and transfer the tenancy to the victim.

CIH Scotland is calling for further scope for Courts to extend the Order beyond the proposed three month maximum set out in the Bill, in limited circumstances, such as when it is combined with the powers to end a joint social tenancy in part 2 of the legislation.

The Institute is concerned that a three-month limitation on a protective order would not give enough time for the court system to fully consider and conclude on the evidence of ending a joint tenancy. CIH believes such a flexibility could allow social landlords and police to swiftly remove an abuser and in turn keep them out of the victim’s home until the tenancy has been transferred/ended.

Callum Chomczuk  |  National director, CIH Scotland

CIH Scotland very much welcomes the draft Domestic Abuse (Protection) Bill being considered by Parliament and we stress the importance to all Parliamentarians of passing the legislation before the end of the Parliamentary term to ensure both police and social landlords can take appropriate steps to remove perpetrators from a tenancy.

We believe the Bill as it stands would do much to improve the housing rights of victims of domestic abuse, although we would note in particular the value in allowing courts the scope for flexibility to extend a Protection Order where a social landlord is seeking to end interest in a tenancy.

However, we also recognise that legislation alone cannot improve housing outcomes for victims of domestic abuse and believe the development of the accompanying guidance, including provisions on how to rehouse perpetrators, will be crucial in supporting social landlords improve housing and homeless services.