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Homelessness: Females

Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if her Department will revise the Homelessness Code of Guidance for local authorities to classify women fleeing domestic violence as unintentionally homeless and in priority need. (157402)

The “Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities” provides guidance in respect of women fleeing domestic violence which accords with legislation and case law. Under the homelessness legislation (Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996), a person is homeless if they have accommodation available but it would not be reasonable for them to continue to occupy it. It is not considered reasonable for a person to continue to occupy accommodation if it is probable that this will lead to domestic violence or other violence against that person (or against someone who normally resides as a member of that person's family, or any other person who might reasonably be expected to reside with that person).

In 2002 the Government extended, by Order, the categories of housing applicant who has a priority need for accommodation. These include a person who is vulnerable as a result of ceasing to occupy accommodation because of violence from another person or threats of violence from another person which are likely to be carried out.

Broadly, the Code of Guidance states that a person fleeing a probability of violence is not to be considered intentionally homeless even if they were aware of measures that could have been taken to prevent or mitigate the risk of violence but decided not to take them.