Housing advice - Domestic violence and abuse

Domestic violence and abuse is defined as; any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality

Examples of domestic violence can be:

  • threatening behaviour
  • violence
  • psychological abuse
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • financial abuse
  • emotional abuse

Domestic violence and abuse can affect anyone regardless of their age, gender identity or reassignment, race, religion, class, sexual orientation or marital status.

If you are in immediate danger call 999 and ask for the police

Housing options

Stay with family or friends

This may be a safe option for you and give you some support. However, it is possible that your abuser will guess where you are, which may cause problems and may only be a short-term solution.  If you do decide on this option and you live in social housing you must inform your landlord that you are unable to stay in your home as soon as possible.

Going to a refuge

Women's Refuges are safe houses for women and children who are escaping domestic abuse. Help will be available on matters such as welfare rights, legal issues and accommodation options.

Refuge addresses are confidential to ensure the safety of those who live there. Refuges accept all women, with or without children who have experienced or have been threatened with domestic abuse.

There is a considerable shortage of emergency refuge/safe house provision for male victims of domestic abuse including those with children. In these circumstances, it is likely that male victims may have to move a considerable distance to access a refuge or may not be able to access a place at all.

For more information, please see the following Reducing the Risk of Domestic Violence website 

Gaining control of your present home

There are a number of legal remedies that victims of domestic abuse can pursue, some of which are listed below. 

Shelter Legal have published a list of all the court orders available in England for a person experiencing domestic abuse to remove the perpetrator from their home and prevent abuse. It includes information about the process for applying for Family Law Act 1996 and Protection from Harassment Act 1997 orders, the difficulties with each, and how they are enforced. Read more on the shelter website. 

Occupation order

Under the Family Law Act 1996 you can apply to the courts to have your abuser removed from your present home (this is called an Occupation Order). Whether you decide to take this option will depend on how safe you feel you may be in your home.

If you are getting divorced, jointly-owned property will be sorted out as part of the divorce settlement. However, this may take a long time and you may wish to make alternative arrangements in the meantime.


You may be able to get an injunction to stop your partner or ex-partner from entering your home. You can:

The Council or the police could help to make your home safer through extra security measures such as changing the locks and installing an alarm.

Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPO)

Domestic Violence Protection Orders enable the Police and magistrates to put in place protection in the immediate aftermath of a domestic violence incident.

With DVPOs, a perpetrator can be banned with immediate effect from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days, allowing the victim time to consider their options and get the support they need.

Sanctuary Schemes

Sanctuary schemes offer victims of domestic violence the option to remain safely and securely in their homes, through the installation of free, tailored home security. Every Sanctuary is tailored to the needs and circumstances of the individual and property involved. Police Crime Prevention Officers visit the home and will recommend appropriate security measures, which is then completed by a private contractor. If your landlord is a housing association they may have their own sanctuary scheme.

If you are a tenant you will need your landlord's permission before any safety measures are installed in your home.

There is also a countywide Hertfordshire Home Security Service.  This allows access to basic home security checks/work (i.e. advice and fitting of additional locks on doors, windows, gates and garages), fire safety checks/advice (including installation of smoke alarms) and falls prevention advice to those classed as vulnerable. The service is free.

Homeless or threatened with homelessness

The Housing Act 1996 says that it is not reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic abuse or other violence against them or a member of their household. If it is not reasonable for you to continue to occupy your accommodation you meet the definition of homeless and are entitled to homelessness advice and assistance from the council.

If you are at risk of domestic violence or abuse from say, a person who is due to be released from prison, you are threatened with homelessness as it may not be reasonable for you to continue to occupy your home once the perpetrator is released.

All councils have a legal duty to give advice and help to homeless people. If you are at risk of further violence or abuse if you stay in East Herts you can apply to any other local authority in England.  For further information on homelessness and the work the Council will do, please see our Homeless or Threatened with Homelessness page

What the Council will do

We will try to help you stay in your home. If this is not possible or you are already homeless, we will work with you to find a suitable home.

You will be invited to an appointment with a housing options officer who will assess your housing and support needs and agree a personal housing plan with you. This is a plan of the steps you will be expected to take to remain in your current home if you have one or find somewhere to live. It will also set out how the council will support you and what other agencies you should engage with to help you find and sustain a home.

There are a number of ways that we may help, such as referring you to refuge or hostel accommodation or lending you the deposit for a home in the private rented sector. You will be advised on making an application to the Housing Register via the HomeOptions websiteif you have not already done so.

We will also assess whether you have a priority need under the terms of the Housing Act 1996. People who are homeless as a result of domestic abuse will automatically have a priority need.

Additionally, we may investigate whether you have a local connection. To have a connection to East Herts you must:

  • have lived in the district for six out of the last 12 months or three out of the last five years, by choice; or
  • work in the district; or
  • have a close adult family member that lives in the district and has done do for at least five years; or
  • have another special reason for needing to live in East Herts

If you do not have a connection to East Herts we may refer you to a local authority to which you do have a local connection. You will not be referred to another local authority where you have a local connection if you, or any person who might reasonably be expected to reside with you, would be at risk of domestic abuse in that district.

If you become homeless

If an applicant does not have a local connection, the council will usually refer them to a local authority to which they do have a connection. However, you will not be referred to a local authority in which you or a member of your household would be at risk of violence or abuse.

If you are not in priority need, the council will not have a duty to provide you with temporary accommodation. In these circumstances, we will continue to work with you for up to 56 days to help you to find somewhere to live.

If we decide that you are in priority need and have a local connection or that you do not need a local connection because you would be at risk of violence or abuse in another local authority area, you will be provided with temporary accommodation for up to 56 days. During this time we will continue to work with you to find a more permanent home. We will also look at the circumstances that caused you to become homeless and make a decision on whether you are intentionally homeless. You will not be intentionally homeless if you had to leave your home due to domestic violence or abuse.

If you are in priority need and not intentionally homeless, the council will continue to provide you with temporary accommodation until we are able to offer you more permanent accommodation either in the private rented sector or in social housing.

To access help or advice please complete our online Housing Advice Request form which is accessed through our Housing Assistance Referral Portal

Following completion of the form a member of the Housing team will make contact within five working days to discuss your housing situation.

Other support, information and advice services

National Domestic Violence Helpline - Tel: 0808 2000 247

The Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women's Aid and Refuge. It is a national service for women experiencing domestic violence, their family, friends, colleagues and others calling on their behalf.

Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline

Email: kim@mailpurple.org

The Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline is a confidential, free, support and signposting service for anyone affected by domestic abuse.  Tel: 08 088 088 088 between 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm at weekends and Bank Holidays

Herts Sunflower

Tel: 03301 025811 (24 hour service)

Herts Sunflower is a service supporting people who have been abused or people who know someone who has been abused.

Hertfordshire Beacon

Tel: 03000115555 (option 3).  Email: info@hertfordshirebeacon.org

Beacon Hertfordshire provides support for victims of crime, tailored to individual needs. You do not have to report the crime to the Police to access the service. 

Safer Places 

Tel: 03301 025811 (24 hr emergency line).  Email: info@saferplaces.co.uk

Safer Places is an independent charity which provides a comprehensive range of services to men, women and children affected by all forms Domestic Abuse who live in Mid, West, South and North Essex, East Hertfordshire and Southend.

Rehab 4 Addiction

Tel: 0800 140 4690 Email: info@rehab4addiction.co.uk

Rehab 4 Addiction was founded to assist those affected by substance misuse and their loved ones. They offer a range of services, and help signpost you to the most effective treatments. This includes alcohol rehab, drug rehab, detox services, intervention, aftercare and outpatient counselling. 

Men's Advice Line 

Tel: 0808 801 0327 freephone (Monday to Friday 10am-1pm & 2pm-5pm). Email: info@mensadviceline.org.uk

The Men's Advice Line provides a range of services aimed at men experiencing domestic abuse from their partner.

Rights of Women 

Email: info@row.org.uk - Tel: 020 7251 6577 (Legal advice line), 020 7490 2562 (Legal advice line - textphone) , 020 7251 8887 (Sexual violence & Asylum & Immigration legal advice line)

Rights of Women offer free confidential legal advice to women by their telephone helplines.

For further information and help, please see our independent organisations page

Future Living
Tel: 01992 537344  email: info@futurelivinghertford.co.uk
Future Living provides support and counselling to men, women, children and young people who are victims of domestic abuse from their centre in Hertford. 

If you've read the points above and would still like to ask for help or advice, please use the Housing Assistance Referral Portal to get in touch. 

Following completion of the form a member of the Housing team will make contact within five working days to discuss your housing situation.