Council tenants in East Renfrewshire who are victims of domestic abuse will be given a choice of housing options under a new policy.

More than a fifth of homeless applicants in East Renfrewshire cited a “violent or abusive” household dispute as their reason in 2022/23.

In total, 94 of 446 applicants (21%) gave that reason — up from 17% in 2020/21 — and 85% of those were women.

The new policy, approved by East Renfrewshire Council’s cabinet, aims to provide “better housing options” for victims, including remaining in their home “where appropriate”.

If a victim chose to remain at home, safety advice and equipment could be provided at “no charge to the victim”.

A report by officials stated the policy is based on a good practice guide for social landlords, which is underpinned by the principle that “victims of domestic abuse have the right to have control of their life outcomes including whether to remain in the home or move out”.

They added the “wishes of the victim will remain at the centre of the council’s approach”, which intends to be “sensitive, consistent and equitable”.

Officials said, in the past, those fleeing domestic abuse were encouraged to present as homeless, which can be a “traumatic and daunting experience”, especially for those with children who move away from homes, schools and support networks.

Under the new policy, victims will be “assisted to make informed choices in respect of their housing situation”. This could include safety measures at their own home to allow them to remain.

Other options will include social housing, private rented sector homes and access to temporary accommodation or refuge.

The policy, which applies to all council tenants and all residents at risk of homelessness, will provide options based on “individual assessed needs and circumstances”.

Support with homeless applications, transferring a tenancy to their own name, accessing legal advice or obtaining permanent housing would be available. Removing a perpetrator, where possible, will also be considered.

Help to access specialist domestic abuse support could also be provided. If the victim wishes to remain in their home, the property could be assessed with the help of Police Scotland to provide advice on how to improve safety.

Housing services would provide equipment and fitting “at no charge to the victim”. Personal safety planning support would also be offered. The costs of procuring and installing security measures are currently “unknown”, but are “not anticipated to exceed £3000”, the council report added.

When a victim chooses to leave their home, the council will offer emergency temporary accommodation and monitor the situation to review whether “more suitable” accommodation is appropriate.

Staff would also help victims access support services and reduce the “financial consequences of homelessness as a result of domestic abuse”. Support to remove and storage belongings and financial advice would be provided The policy added: “Any decision regarding council intervention will be taken in consultation with the victim, police, legal services and support services.  “Where there is sufficient evidence of a relevant ground for repossession we will consult with legal services and continue to work with the perpetrator throughout the process in regards to their housing options.”

The policy has been drafted with input from partners including East Renfrewshire Violence Against Women Partnership and a group of service users with lived experience of domestic violence.

Staff training needs will be identified during a review.