Local connection and domestic abuse

Expert Advice consultancy case study

Summary

Shelter's Expert Advice service helped the police support a person fleeing domestic violence. The person had tried to make a homelessness application but was told to return to their previous local authority area as they did not have a local connection.

We advised that the local authority has a duty to accept the application and to challenge the decision.

The situation

A police officer contacted the expert advice line about their client, a single person suffering with mental health issues and a history of substance misuse. 

The client had arrived in the area having fled an abusive relationship. They were facing homelessness after temporarily staying with friends and family. After approaching the local authority they were told to return to their previous local authority area.

The local police contacted our Expert Advice line to find out what could be done to help them client.

Our advice

Our adviser explained the rules about making a homelessness application to a local authority and how a local authority should handle such enquiries.

When someone is fleeing domestic violence the local authority has a duty to accept the application and carry out appropriate enquiries. The adviser emphasised that there should be no need to provide proof of violence to a local authority.  

If they are fleeing violence, a person does not need a local connection to the area they make their homelessness application in.

The local authority cannot make a local connection referral to another local authority if the applicant would be at risk of violence in that area.

The adviser explained the ways in which a local authority can be challenged if it fails to meet their responsibilities.

The outcome

The police contacted the local authority again, who accepted it had made a mistake. It placed the client in emergency accommodation and assisted them under a homeless application.

Further resources

Shelter Legal

Homelessness due to violence or domestic abuse - includes definitions of domestic abuse and other violence, and how local authorities should make inquiries

Local connection in homelessness applications - when a homeless applicant has a local connection to a local authority's area

Our free Expert Advice Service gives specialist advice on housing, housing debt, and welfare benefit issues. 

In this section, we highlight relevant enquiries about benefits, possession, domestic violence and other issues.