East London sing Domestic Violence Reciprocal Arrangements in the SE London sub-region 1. Purpose 1.1 To ensure appropriate and safe rehousing of housing applicants or tenants fleeing serious domestic violence or harassment and threats of violence from outside the home where suitable housing would not be available in the home borough. Households will usually have been accepted for rehousing by their own local authority – i.e. they will normally be households for whom a duty under the Housing Act has been accepted and they will not necessarily only be existing tenants. 1.2 To ensure the smooth running of a simple reciprocal arrangement whereby boroughs offering properties to assist households from partner boroughs will be offered properties in partner boroughs in return. 1.3 To enhance good working practice, promote trust across the region and dispel attitudes that some local authorities are not fulfilling their duties/responsibilities towards applicants/tenants. The arrangements are in accordance with Code of Guidance and Housing Act, 1996 (s213) and are derived from the SE London Joint Working Agreement on Domestic Violence. 2. Referrals 2.1 Referring agencies will alert named (DV) borough officers about forthcoming referrals. The existence of named officers and of an up-to-date and shared record of those officers’ contact details is central to these arrangements. Request from home borough/Housing Association Police – serious crime MAPPA Social Services MARAC 3. Procedure 3.1 When an applicant approaches a borough as homeless due to domestic violence, the assessment will be carried out by the borough approached. The responsibility for completing the investigations lies with this authority. In cases where it is not their ‘home’ borough, the housing options service in the applicant’s home borough will assist by providing any information they may have that will be of use to investigations. 3.2 When an applicant makes their first approach to the home borough but cannot safely live there, (established through a risk assessment) the home borough may make contact with a partner borough requesting housing on a reciprocal basis. Officers will use the contact list of allocations and homelessness colleagues available on the SELHP website. It is expected that all housing options will be fully explored prior to a decision that the applicant needs an out of borough move. 3.3 When looking to re-house a high risk applicant in another borough, the case will be discussed with the Senior Housing Options Managers (highest listed contact) to work together to ensure a swift move. In lower risk cases officers will follow the procedures using listed contacts. We are looking at a quick resolution of these cases so the receiving authority should be satisfied that circumstances of case have been investigated thoroughly and there should be no need to re-investigate the case. 3.4 The referring (home) borough will provide supporting documentation and reports and details of the household’s needs in writing, together with their contact details. 3.5 The receiving borough will register the applicant and will place them in a high priority band on the register in accordance with the borough’s own allocations criteria for domestic violence and will advise and assist them to bid for accommodation. Temporary accommodation including Women’s Aid refuge will be provided as necessary – and is the responsibility of the referring (home) borough. The receiving borough agrees and records details of the type and size of property owed by referring borough. 3.6 Responsibility for reviewing cases remains with the referring (home) borough. A review will normally take place 3 months the referral if the applicant has not been re- housed. At this point, through the named officer contacts, the referring (home) borough may request that the receiving authority make a direct offer. 3.7 Once the initial Domestic Violence case is rehoused the referring borough will then offer a property of similar size to the receiving borough to advertise on their CBL scheme (Bexley will take part, but not through Choice Based Lettings) by sending details of the available property to the receiving borough as soon as possible. At the close of bidding the borough that has advertised the other borough’s property will send details of the successful bidder to the other borough or landlord in order that a tenancy may be set up. Detailed procedures for inter borough lettings already exist due to the SE London ‘Inter Borough Mobility pilot’ and these may also be applied to moves arising from Domestic Violence Reciprocal Arrangements. 3.8 Alternatively, properties owed can be ‘banked’ for up to a year and called upon when needed. Properties are not restricted to households fleeing domestic violence. 3.9 Applicants will be expected to relinquish their tenancies at the point when they have secured alternative permanent accommodation. 3.10 In cases where there are rent arrears the referring borough will negotiate a repayment plan with the client prior to re-housing. 4. Monitoring 4.1 Cross borough moves will be monitored by the nominations group, as part of overall moves. The named borough officers will also take part in monitoring by notifying the SE London Housing Partnership homelessness coordinator of any moves. The homelessness coordinator will maintain a monitoring sheet to be reviewed at the end of each quarter at the SELHP Domestic Violence sub-group meetings. 4.2 In the unlikely event that boroughs cannot reach agreement the disputed case should be referred to the appropriate named officer and the homelessness co- ordinator in the first instance. Failure to resolve at this juncture will result in referral to the boroughs’ representatives on the SELHP Directors’ Group .