Rehousing because of child abuse
You may be in a situation where the best way to protect a child is to get rehoused. Another option may be to get the abuser to move out. This page tells you more about your options.
If a child is being abused, the local authority may be able to:
- have the child looked after somewhere else (accommodate the child)
- rehouse the family away from the abuser
- take steps to remove the abuser from the home.
In some cases, a young person may already have left home because of abuse. In this case, they may qualify for housing from the local authority because it’s not safe for them return home. If you’re in this situation, you could consider asking the local authority to assess you as a child in need and rehouse you.
However, if you go to the local authority to ask for help with rehousing because of child abuse, you should be aware that the child protection team will be told and they have a duty to investigate if they have good reason to suspect that a child is suffering (or is likely to suffer) significant harm. Within one working day of the concern being reported, a social worker should make the decision about what sort of investigation is needed. This will happen even if you or the child don’t want any further action beyond getting rehoused.
If you’re being abused in foster care or a residential care
If you’re in foster care or in residential care, you have the right to be protected from significant harm.
If you’re a child who is being abused in foster care or residential care and you’re subject to a care order, you aren’t allowed to move out without the agreement of the local authority because they have parental responsibility for you. If you’re being accommodated by the local authority, your parents still have parental responsibility for you and they could remove you from the place where the abuse is happening. In either case, if you’re being abused in local authority care, you should get support, for example, from a specialist organisation.
Asking the local authority to find somewhere else for the child to live
In some cases, the local authority will assess a child and decide that the child is a child in need.
If you’re assessed as a child in need, you could be found somewhere else to live. You could be placed in a children's home or with foster carers. If you’re over 16, in exceptional circumstances and as a last resort, you may be offered supported or independent accommodation.
Asking the local authority to rehouse the family away from the abuser
If a child is being abused or is at risk of abuse, they could be assessed as a child in need by social services. Or they could be classes as homeless, because it’s not safe for them to live at home. Then the whole family may be rehoused so that the family can live together with the child, away from the abuser.
Removing the abuser from the home
There are a number of legal measures which can be taken to remove the abuser from the home:
- in cases of domestic violence, it may be possible to obtain a court order (an injunction or occupation order) to remove the abuser from the home. An occupation order is a temporary measure which usually lasts six months although it can be extended and will allow you time to look at other options
- immediately after a violent incident , the police could issue a Domestic Violence Protection Notice and then apply to the magistrates’ court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order to protect a victim from domestic violence. The abuser can be immediately banned from returning to the property and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days. This would allow you time to consider your options and get the support you need. If the order is broken, the abuser can be arrested without a warrant
- you may be able to apply for an injunction or occupation order as part of other civil court action such as assault or trespass or as part of divorce proceedings.
You should get legal advice from a specialist about which of these options might be available to you. Legal aid may be available.
If you rent your home with the abuser and the tenancy is not in your name (or if it is in your joint names), you may be able get the tenancy transferred into your name only. This type of order is called ‘a Part II Order’. You can apply for a Part II order if you’re renting privately or if you’re a local authority tenant. You can make this application if you’re married or civil partners as part of divorce, dissolution or judicial separation proceedings.You could also apply if you were living together and stop living together. But first you’ll need to check what sort of tenancy you have. If the court makes this order, and the tenancy is transferred to you, they can also order you to pay rent money to the other person.
If you are not in this situation, you could ask for an order under the Children Act. The court can order the transfer of certain tenancies if the main reason for the transfer is the welfare of 'any child of the relationship'.
You should get legal advice from a specialist about whether these options might be available to you. Legal aid may be available.
Getting an abuser evicted
You could try checking if the abuser is a tenant and if so, what sort. This is because some sorts of tenants can be evicted if they are abusing a child. This could include where a tenant:
- has been convicted of child abuse offences
- is violent towards their partner, who has to leave as a result of the violence
- uses their home for illegal or immoral activities - this could cover certain aspects of child abuse.
You should get legal advice about this option from a specialist. Legal aid may be available.
If you’re being threatened with eviction because of alleged abuse
If you’re being threatened with eviction because of alleged abuse, you should get legal advice from a specialist. You might get legal aid.