Homelessness and Housing Advice

Domestic Abuse – Are you experiencing abuse or know someone that is?

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can come in many forms. It is rarely a one-off incident and it is not only about being physically or sexually abused. You may be subject to more subtle attacks, such a constant breaking of trust, isolation, psychological games and harassment. Emotional abuse is just as serious and damaging; many survivors will carry the emotional scars long after any physical injuries have healed.

Being assaulted or being forced or threatened to do something against your will by your partner, ex-partner or a family member, is as much a crime as being assaulted by a stranger. Anyone can experience domestic violence regardless of gender, race, ethnic or religious group, class, disability or lifestyle. It can take place in heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender relationships. Some people who experience domestic violence may feel afraid or ashamed to tell someone what’s happening. It is important to remember that domestic violence is not your fault; we will listen to you and treat you with respect. There are a number of other organisations which you can speak to if you need help or advice. The contact details of these organisations are listed below.

Staying in your home

You don’t have to lose your home if you have experienced domestic violence. You have done nothing wrong and you may want to stay close to friends, family, a local job, or local services. You’ll probably also want to minimise upheaval if you have children. Think carefully when making any decisions and always put safety first.

You need to get specialist advice as soon as possible as any rights you have to stay in your accommodation will depend on if you are a joint or sole owner or tenant, and what your relationship status is. In some circumstances you may be able to apply for an occupation order to give you rights to live in the home and/or exclude your partner. As well as occupation orders there are various other court orders and injunctions that you can apply for to increase your safety. The most common of these are non-molestation orders. These ban your partner from assaulting, harassing, or threatening you.

You can get advice locally from HARV, Lancashire Victim Services or consult a solicitor about this.

There is also a free phone 24 hour National Domestic Violence Helpline run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge. Telephone 0808 2000247. http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

GALOP run the national helpline for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people experiencing domestic abuse. Telephone 0800 999 247

Report the violence to the Police

The Police take domestic violence very seriously and have specially trained officers to deal with this area of crime.

Contact your local police station if you want to report domestic violence. They investigate all domestic violence incidents and can advise you on police action and other options that can be taken to protect you.

Security

When your partner has left, you may want to improve security in your home. This could include:

  • Fitting reinforced doors and/or window bars
  • Getting an alarm installed
  • Having a ‘safe room’ where you can take refuge if your attacker gets in – ideally this room should have a phone in it, and an exit.

HARV can offer advice on this and assist with some of this work.

Refuges or other temporary accommodation

If you don’t feel safe in your home and have nowhere safe to go to, you should contact HARV or the police to see if they can find you a space in a refuge. Refuges provide temporary housing for people fleeing domestic violence. You won’t have to have left your partner permanently and you don’t have to have children.

Some refuges are shared houses, while others offer self-contained apartments. You will usually have your own room, but if you have children you may have to share the room with them. You will have to pay rent but may be entitled to housing benefit. Refuge staff can give you advice about claiming benefits and finding a more permanent place to live.

Refuge places are limited, and you may have to go to another area of the country.

If you are not able to go into a refuge, or do not wish to do so, the Council may be able to offer you temporary accommodation.

Applying as homeless

You can contact the Housing Advice team at Hyndburn Borough Council. 01254 388 111.

You will need to attend a face to face interview, and give us some information about your situation and this can be with a member of the same sex if you feel more comfortable with that. Someone can come to the interview with you for support.

What will you do when I come to see you?

  • We will respect and believe you
  • We will not judge you
  • We will offer you the option to speak to a female or male worker if you wish
  • We will take you to a private room to discuss your case

We will help you find somewhere safe to stay on a temporary basis and work with you on longer term options. This might involve making arrangements for rehousing or returning home with additional security measures in place.

Alternative Housing Options

Apply for social housing

Complete a housing application for social housing via the B-with-us website. This is the sub-regional choice based lettings scheme. All social housing vacancies across the boroughs of Hyndburn, Pendle, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley and Rossendale are advertised via this website on a daily basis. www.b-with-us.com

Private renting

The main advantage of private rented accommodation is that you will have a greater degree of choice in terms of location and type of property and can usually move very quickly.

The Housing Advice team may be able to help with a bond and rent in advance.

You may also wish to start looking at suitable private renting options on websites such as ‘Right Move’ or ‘Spare Room.’

Help with Housing costs

Many people are reluctant to leave a violent relationship because they are worried that they won’t be able to support themselves financially. However, you may be able to apply for help with your housing costs and living expenses, such as:

  • Benefits or tax credits
  • A crisis loan to help you meet emergency expenses
  • Maintenance payments from your ex-partner if you have children

You may be able to claim housing benefit for two homes if you have to move out temporarily because of violence or threats. This can last for up to a year.

If you are receiving a state benefit or are on a low income you can apply for help towards your rent. In Hyndburn this will be through Universal Credit for working age people unless you live in supported housing.

If you are looking to rent a private rented property, the maximum amount of help you can get is set by the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). If you are under 35, you will only be able to get rent to cover you for a room in a shared house. Please see LHA rate on Hyndburn Borough Council website. https://www.hyndburnbc.gov.uk/housing-benefit-and-council-tax-support-2/3/

Help available from other agencies:

SHELTER

For homeless information across a range of topics and for legal housing advice, please visit Shelter’s website: www.shelter.org.uk