Domestic abuse not only affects how you feel and how you live your life but it can also affect where you live and who you live with. Deciding what options are open and right for you and/or your children can be difficult and confusing. Housing issues can sometimes seem like a reason to stay or return to the relationship even if you don’t want to. ESDAS can support you to decide what housing options are right for you and work with other agencies to help find you somewhere safe to stay.
The information contained in this section provides general advice about housing options; it is important that you seek help and advice about your individual circumstances. Please call one of the ESDAS Outreach Workers on 01737 771350 if you would like to discuss your housing options and rights.
I need to leave home due to domestic abuse - where can I go?
There are many things you need to consider if you are thinking about leaving home especially if you have children. Deciding to leave or end an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time so it is important that you have a plan so that even in an emergency you know where you can go and what to take. Please click for further information on Safety Planning.
I have left my home and I’m staying with family/friends but I can not stay here long term. What are my options?
It is very common for people to leave their partners and stay with friends or family as they feel this is their only option. However this may not be the most practical or safest option for you as your partner may know where your friends and family live or there may not be enough room for you and your children. Anything that increases the pressure faced by you and/or your children can lead you to question whether or not you have made the right decision by leaving.
My partner has moved out of the family home but I’m scared they will come back. What can I do?
Even if your partner has agreed to move out you may still be scared that they can return to the property to live or to frighten you. Sometimes not knowing where you partner is can be scarier than living with them so it is important that if they move out you find out how you can protect yourself living within the home.
If any of the questions above relate to you or someone you know, the options below are just some of the housing options open to those experiencing domestic abuse.
You may want to consider seeking an injunction from the courts in relation to your housing situation. An order relating to occupation of the home is known as an Occupation Order. This type of order will establish who has a right to stay in the home. An occupation order can order an abuser to move out of the home or to keep a certain distance from the home. To apply for this type of order, you will need to know if you or your abuser (or both of you) is legally entitled to occupy the property. You may also be able to deal with housing issues in relation to other divorce or separation processes. Click for further information on your Legal Options & Rights.
These are safe houses which offer crisis accommodation for women with or without children. They provide breathing space where decisions can be made and women can consider their options for the future. Most refuges have Case Workers who will work with a woman in the refuge in relation to longer term housing, injunctions, benefits, counselling, safety and so on. Some refuges even have a Children’s Worker who can support the children whilst they are living at the house. Most refuges will take women and families at any time of the day or night, however they will usually ask you to have a short telephone interview with them. The purpose of the phone interview is to find out a little more about you and your family, ensure that you understand what refuge is and to make sure they can accommodate the needs of you and/or your children.
There also some refuges for men experiencing domestic abuse across the country.
For help in finding refuge space please contact ESDAS, your local housing department, or the National 24hr Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
If you are fleeing domestic abuse you have a right to make an application to any council as homeless. If you have to flee your home because of domestic abuse they must help you find somewhere safe to stay in the short term. However in order for the council to provide you with permanent accommodation you do need to satisfy certain criteria. If you would like information about the Homeless Application criteria please contact ESDAS or your local housing department.
Private Rented Accommodation
Many local authorities now offer help with finding privately rented accommodation, by liaising with private landlords on your behalf and offering rent deposit schemes. Although privately rented accommodation does not provide you with the same long term security as social housing it has many benefits. For example it allows you to have more choice about where you would like to live as properties are not just available in certain areas. It may also be quicker to find appropriate privately rented accommodation than waiting for social housing to become available. You can also still apply to join the Housing Register with your local authority even if you are currently in a privately rented property. For more information about privately rented accommodation please contact ESDAS or your local housing department.
Surrey Mobility Scheme
This is a housing scheme specifically set up to help people experiencing domestic abuse within social housing. If you would like to move to another part of Surrey the Mobility Scheme may be an option for you. The scheme allows existing local authority tenants to transfer their tenancy to another local authority within Surrey. For more information about the Surrey Mobility Scheme please contact ESDAS or your local housing department.
The Sanctuary Scheme is designed to help anyone experiencing domestic abuse to stay safely within their own homes. Through the Sanctuary Scheme anyone who no longer lives with their partner can receive help to have security measures installed that will make them and/or their children safer. Security measures can include:
Lock changes or fitting additional locks to windows and doors
Purchasing mobile phones or credit
Installing a safe room within the home to provide added protection should the abuser attempt to return to the property
Installation of security measures will be carried out following a security assessment of your home by a police Crime Reduction Officer and fire & rescue service Risk Manager. Although the police are required to carry out the assessment it is not necessary to report the abuse to them to receive support via the Sanctuary Scheme.
The scheme is co-ordinated by ESDAS in partnership with Surrey Police, Surrey Fire & Rescue Service, Mole Valley District Council, Reigate & Banstead Borough Council, Tandridge District Council, Raven Housing Trust and Circle Housing Mole Valley. If you would like further information about the Sanctuary Scheme please contact ESDAS on 01737 771350.
Every local council offers Housing Advice Officers who will be able to offer you advice about your housing options if you are experiencing domestic abuse. Contact your local authority to find out how to make an appointment with a housing advice officer.
Mole Valley District Council
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 8.30am-5pm.
Contact a housing advisor on 01306 870614 / 879213 / 879210
Reigate & Banstead Borough Council
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 8.45am until 5pm, Friday 8.45am until 4.45pm.
Contact a housing options officer on 01737 276790
Tandridge District Council
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 8.30am until 5pm, Friday 8.30am until 4.30pm.
Contact a homelessness prevention officer on 01883 73281 or
Other support and advice
Shelter give housing advice for anyone with housing problems
Telephone: 0808 800 4444
National Domestic Violence - Freephone 24hr Helpline
0808 2000 247
This is run by Women’s Aid and Refuge and will be able to give you confidential advice, support and information and will be able to find a refuge place for you and your children if you need to leave your home because of domestic violence.
Fax: 0117 924 1703
These are safe houses, which offer temporary accommodation for women with or without children.
They provide a breathing space where decisions can be made and women can consider their options for the future.
Help can be obtained, often by working with outside agencies, on all issues, including housing, finances, legal assistance, education, medical help and counselling.
For help in finding a refuge or for advice please ring us (East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services) on 01737 771350 or call the 24hr National Domestic Violence helpline on 0808 2000 247.