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High Court rules on judicial review of decisions by housing associations on management transfers

The High Court has ruled that decisions taken by housing associations around the consideration and refusal of management transfers are subject to judicial review.

This arose in a case brought by the Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) on behalf of a domestic abuse survivor.

Izzy Mulholland, a PILC legal caseworker, said client T 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 it.

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Ms Mulholland said the key finding in TRX v Network Homes Limited [2022] was that decisions taken by housing associations relating to management transfers are subject to judicial review.

The court also found that when a council or housing association makes a decision on a management transfer application, the decision must not be generic.

It must instead explain properly and adequately why its policy criteria have not been satisfied to ensure the applicant understands why their application is being refused.

Ms Mulholland said this was the main ground on which T’s judicial review challenge succeeded.

PILC said the case gave clarification around the definition of domestic abuse.

Network Homes agreed that domestic abuse does not solely constitute physical abuse, in line with the definition in section 1 of Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

As a consequence, it must in future deem all forms of domestic abuse to come within the definition of the term when considering management transfer applications.

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.

Ms Mulholland said therefore, if Network Homes suggested that an applicant should make a homelessness application before a management transfer can be processed, caseworkers could point to this judgment to challenge that.

Other implications of the judgment, she said, were that in future Network Homes should consider whether a non-molestation order is enough to protect a survivor and must instead consider the history and nature of the of the perpetrator’s conduct towards the applicant and their children.

PILC said it had produced two detailed factsheets on the implications of the ruling, one for legal professionals and one for non-specialists supporting survivors of domestic abuse.

Mark Smulian

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