Housing associations back bill to evict domestic abusers

The bill could see abusers tenancies end to allow victims to stay in their own homes.

Housing associations back bill to evict domestic abusers Getty Images

Housing association bosses have backed proposals from the Scottish Government that would allow them to end the tenancies of those who commit domestic abuse.

Justice secretary Humza Yousaf has put forward new legislation at Holyrood that, if passed, would mean councils and housing associations could end or transfer the tenancy of abusers, in order to allow victims to remain in their own home.

The measure is included in the Domestic Abuse (Protection) (Scotland) Bill, which was published in October.

The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) said the Bill could also give social landlords more confidence about when to intervene and would send out a message of “zero tolerance” to abusers.

Stacey Dingwall, senior policy manager at the SFHA, said: “We are supportive of an additional power being made available to social landlords to enable the removal of a domestic abuse perpetrator’s interest in a Scottish secure tenancy in order to protect the victim.

“Domestic abuse is clearly a complicated issue, and the introduction of this power – and Scottish Government guidance, if the bill passes – would provide social landlords with more confidence with regards to how, and when, to appropriately intervene.

“The power would also, crucially, support a message of zero tolerance to perpetrators, in that they risk losing their home if domestic abuse happens.

“It also removes the onus from the victim to take action, if their landlord has the power to remove the perpetrator’s interest or to transfer the tenancy.”

She continued: “The requirement to provide information and assistance to the evicted tenant, as opposed to a duty to rehouse them, is welcomed. While we support the intention that no-one should be evicted into homelessness, the priority must be to offer support to the victim to safely sustain their tenancy.”

The Scottish Government introduced the legislation in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown having highlighted the importance of protecting women who were left “isolated and vulnerable due to the actions of an abusive partner”, Mr Yousaf said.

The Bill, if passed, will give senior constables the power to issue a domestic abuse protection notice against someone if they have reasonable grounds for believing abuse has occurred.

The police would then have to apply to the courts for such a notice, which would require the person who is believed to have committed the abuse to leave the home of their victim – even if it is also their home – barring them from entering the property.

Abusers would also be prevented from approaching or contacting their victim and any children under the terms of the notices. Breaching such a notice could result in a jail sentence, according to the proposed legislation.

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