Advice to get the perpetrator out of the house
If you have suffered domestic violence, you may want to stay in your home, and get the perpetrator out.
In some cases, the best way to get the perpetrator to leave will be to get her/him arrested. This may only get her/him out of the way for a short time but, if s/he is charged, then s/he may be either held in custody, or may be given bail only on condition that s/he does not go near you. If a criminal offence has been committed, s/he may also be prosecuted and given a custodial sentence.
Changing the locks
You may want to change the locks to stop the perpetrator getting into your home.
However, you need to be aware of two things:
- simply changing the locks is unlikely to stop a determined attacker, except when combined with other security measures
- if the perpetrator has rights to occupy the home (if you have a joint tenancy, for example), you could be illegally evicting her/him.
Occupation orders are court orders that extend or restrict a person’s right to occupy a home. They can, for example, give you the right to stay in the family home where you didn’t previously have that right (for example, where the tenancy is a sole tenancy in the perpetrator’s name), or exclude the perpetrator from the home.
An occupation order can be applied for separately, or as part of other family law proceedings (divorce or custody proceedings, for example). The details of the order you can apply for will depend on your relationship to the perpetrator and the type of accommodation you live in.
Occupation orders can have a power of arrest attached so, for example, if the perpetrator has been excluded from the home, s/he can be arrested if s/he tries to gain entry. The perpetrator can be given a custodial sentence or fined for breaching the order.
You will need to seek the advice of a solicitor to get an occupation order. They cannot guarantee your safety, and will only last for a limited time, so you will need to take further action to settle who stays in the property in the long term. You will need advice from a family solicitor about this.
If you and the perpetrator have a joint periodic tenancy (eg. one that’s not for a fixed term), you can end her/his rights to occupy by giving notice to quit to your landlord. The notice will have to be valid – there are rules on how a tenancy can be ended.
This will, however, also end your rights to occupy. Your landlord might be willing to grant you a sole tenancy when the joint tenancy ends. You should check with the landlord and get further advice before giving notice.