Published On: 19th May 2022Categories: Case Q&A, Domestic abuse, Housing, Judicial review

In a case brought by PILC on behalf of a domestic abuse survivor, the High Court has ruled that decisions taken by housing associations around the consideration and refusal of management transfers are subject to judicial review.  

In our latest blog, Izzy Mulholland explains the significance of the ruling both in terms of legal precedent and the practical implications for survivors.

What’s going on?

In 2021, our client T, a survivor of domestic abuse, applied for a management transfer that would allow her to move to new accommodation where she and her children would be safe from the perpetrator of the abuse.

When Network Homes refused to grant T’s request, she brought a judicial review challenge against the housing association involved, Network Homes.

What did the court decide?

The key finding in the decision handed down by the High Court in the case known as TRX v Network Homes Limited [2022] is that decisions taken by housing associations relating to the consideration and refusal of management transfers are subject to judicial review.

The court also found that when a council or housing association makes a decision on a a management transfer application, the decision must not be generic. Rather, it must explain properly and adequately why its own policy criteria have not been satisfied to ensure the applicant understands why their application is being refused. This was the main ground on which T’s judicial review challenge succeeded.

What are the other implications of the judgment?

Other key implications of the case include:

  • Clarification around the definition of domestic abuse: Network Homes agreed that domestic abuse does not solely constitute physical abuse. This was in line with the definition of domestic abuse outlined in section 1 of Domestic Abuse Act 2021. As a consequence, the housing association must in future deem all forms of domestic abuse to come within the definition of the term when considering management transfer applications.
  • Requirement to make a homelessness application: Network Homes also confirmed that in T’s case there was no policy or requirement that she make herself homeless in order to access accommodation. Therefore, if Network Homes suggest that an applicant should make a homelessness application before a management transfer can be processed, caseworkers can point to this judgment as a basis for challenging that assertion.
  • Non-molestation orders: the judge in the case noted that Network Homes ‘will have well in mind’ points relating to the relevance of non-molestation orders and the history of the perpetrator. In future Network Homes should consider whether a non-molestation order is enough to protect a survivor (they cannot assume it is) and must instead consider the history and nature of the of the perpetrator’s conduct towards the applicant and their children.
  • Requirement to provide police or MARAC reports: the court clarified that Network Homes’ policy on management transfers does not require a police report or MARAC report be obtained in every case.

How can I find out more?

We have produced two detailed factsheets on the implications of the ruling, one for legal professionals and one for non-specialists supporting survivors of domestic abuse.