It is reported that more than 300 women a year in Edinburgh alone flee their homes to escape domestic abuse. The current housing legislation doesn’t equip social landlords with appropriate legal tools to evict perpetrators from rented accommodation, without serving the notice on their victims at the same time.
Housing groups, including Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland, have been calling on the Scottish Government to introduce legislative changes to better protect victims of domestic violence, and new proposals have now been submitted to Parliament for consideration in its current term.
The Domestic Abuse Bill
The bill proposes that social landlords should be allowed to transfer a joint lease of a property to a sole tenancy, from the perpetrator to the victim of domestic abuse, if they have been married or lived together.
It also outlines new powers for the police to prohibit suspected abusers from entering a property for a short period, and then apply to the courts for a longer term protective order, which would prevent the suspected abusers from returning to the property for up to two months. This would ensure that victims have much needed breathing space, free from the perpetrator’s compulsion and control, while they decide on their best future options.
Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is taking firm action to tackle this wicked blight – which scars the lives of too many families and diminishes our communities.
“This Domestic Abuse Bill is important because it lifts the burden of action from those already suffering or at risk from abuse by giving greater powers to police to intervene where necessary.”
Callum Chomczuk, National Director of CIH Scotland commented: “In Scotland, domestic abuse is given as the main reason by women for making a homelessness application, but at times victims are made homeless by the services that are meant to help them.
“Social landlords need the powers to help victims before it is too late. We want to see the upcoming Emergency Protective Orders Bill ensure experience of abuse or violence does not lead to someone losing their tenancy. This would allow social landlords to end a joint tenancy without making victims homeless.”
The proposals, which are to be debated in a few weeks’ time, will pave the way for similar legislation in private rented accommodation.