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How the Pan-London Housing reciprocal prevents survivors of domestic abuse from becoming homeless

How the Pan-London Housing reciprocal prevents survivors of domestic abuse from becoming homeless

How the Pan-London Housing reciprocal prevents survivors of domestic abuse from becoming homeless

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Lauren Page-Hammick, Domestic Violence Project Coordinator (Policy & Housing), at Safer London explains the Pan-London Reciprocal:


Domestic abuse workers know all too well that housing is a huge issue, and often a barrier to fleeing abuse. With shrinking local authority budgets and high demand for accommodation, survivors in London very often have long periods of housing instability, lose their secure tenancy or become homeless.

For survivors with a secure social housing tenancy, holding on to that tenure can be the difference between whether they stay with the abuser or not. We know that often perpetrators are remaining in family sized homes after a survivor flees abuse.

Safer London is centrally coordinating a new Pan London Housing Reciprocal which is a framework to help survivors to move borough, without losing their tenancy.

Lucy’s story

Lucy* had a secure tenancy in her home borough in North London. In 2016 she was working with a charity that provides specialist support for women experiencing domestic violence. At this point she had been in a physically and emotionally violent relationship for 18 months and her abuser was using her addiction to drugs and alcohol to further control her.

The charity advocating for her made a referral to a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC), where it was decided that she needed to be supported to move away from the borough to help her flee her abuser and break the cycle of abuse. The charity worked with the local authority housing team and Safer London to utilise the Pan London Housing Reciprocal to make use of existing available housing stock across London and find Lucy somewhere suitable to live. All of the partners worked together to set up flat viewings within the next couple of weeks.

The Pan London Housing Reciprocal

Independently coordinated by charity Safer London, the Pan-London Housing Reciprocal agreement is an alternative housing route that increases options for people with a social housing tenancy who are at high risk of harm in their borough and need to move to another area of London.

Its aims are to reduce homelessness, make better use of housing stock, and ensures that those at risk do not lose their tenure. Local authorities and registered providers can request properties in identified safe areas for their tenants at high risk of harm. In doing so they agree that they will reciprocate with a property to the scheme when needed. It is not a housing exchange scheme: the local authority or registered provider offering a property is owed a property in return, but does not have to accept the property vacated by the tenant moving through this scheme.

As well as for survivors of domestic abuse, the Pan London Housing Reciprocal is suitable for other forms of violence against women and girls (VAWG) including sexual violence and exploitation (including prostitution and trafficking), so called ‘honour’ based violence, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and stalking, as well as hate crimes, gang or serious youth violence and other community safety risks.


Last year Safer London conducted a needs assessment on domestic violence support in London with a key section on housing. We found that more needs to be done to prevent survivors from becoming homeless, and as a result Safer London are now centrally coordinating a Pan London Housing Reciprocal.


How to use it

If you are working with an individual or family who could benefit from the Pan London Housing Reciprocal visit the website to find out more or contact housingreciprocal@saferlondon.org.uk

*Note: The name has been changed to protect the identity.

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