Requesting a review of a homelessness decision

You might be able to ask for a review of decisions the council made about your homelessness application.

Homelessness decisions that can be reviewed

You may have the right to ask for a review of council's decision about your homelessness application.

You can ask for a review if:

  • you disagree with the council's decision about your homeless application
  • you disagree with how it was reached
  • the council failed to take relevant information into account

Most decisions that the council makes in connection with a homelessness application can be reviewed.

This includes the suitability of accommodation provided after the council has completed its enquiries.

You can't ask the council to review a decision it has already reviewed.

Get advice before turning down any offer the council has made you. The council may not help you further.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice in your local area.

Reviews if the council's decision is wrong

If you think the council's decision is wrong, you can ask for a review.

For example, if the council gives you a decision letter which says you:

Reviews if the council has provided unsuitable accommodation

You may ask for a review if you feel you have been offered unsuitable accommodation. This applies to:

You can ask for a review of suitability whether you have accepted the offer or not.

However if you don't have anywhere else to stay it may be better to accept an offer of unsuitable housing. This is because:

  • there is no guarantee that you will be offered something more suitable
  • you will have somewhere to stay while the council reviews its decision
  • you will have somewhere to stay if your review is unsuccessful.

It can be difficult to challenge the suitability of emergency accommodation provided to you while the council looks into your situation. This can only be done by going to court.

Get advice before you refuse an offer of accommodation. An adviser may be able to ask the council to offer you something else.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice in your local area.

New information

Tell the council if you have more information which you think should have been taken into account when the council's original decision was made.

This information should be considered during your review.

Requesting a review

You have to ask for a review within 21 days of getting the written decision letter.

The 21 days starts from the date that you receive the letter, not the date printed on the letter. You can request a review verbally or in writing.

A request for a review can be made by another person on your behalf.

Use Shelter's template letter to request that the council look again at its decision.

Councils have to consider any requests made after 21 days have passed, but they don't have to agree to carry out a review.

Get advice immediately if you want to ask for a review after the 21 days have passed.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice in your local area.

The review procedure

The council must acknowledge your request for review and tell you about the procedure that will be followed. You are usually given a time limit for providing more information about your situation. If you don't tell the council any extra information within that time limit the review is based on the facts that are already known.

You should also be given a date by which a decision on your review will be made. This is normally 56 days (eight weeks) from the date that you asked for the review (although this can be extended with your agreement).

You should be given the opportunity to put your arguments in writing or in person. For example, you can ask for an interview so that you can discuss the issues and put any new facts to the council.

Councils should allow you to have someone else to represent you, such as a housing adviser. Your case is reviewed by a senior officer of the council who was not involved in making the original decision. There is no requirement for a person who is independent from the council to be involved in the review.

Housing from the council during the review

It can take eight weeks or sometimes longer for a review to be completed. The council can provide you with accommodation while it is carrying out the review, but it doesn't have a legal responsibility to do this.

If you need accommodation while the review is being carried out, ask the council to provide it. Get advice immediately if they refuse to do this. An adviser can help you to negotiate with the council.

If the council still won't provide accommodation, you may be able to challenge the decision in court through judicial review

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face legal advice in your local area. 

If the council take too long with its decision

Get advice if you don't get a decision letter within eight weeks from the date you asked the council to review its decision.

You may be able to apply to the county court to force the council to make a decision. If you want to do this, you must apply to court within 21 days of the end of the eight-week period.

Use Shelter's directory to find face-to-face advice in your local area

What the council can decide

There are three options for the council after it has reviewed its decision. It can:

  • accept your appeal (it may need to have another look at your homeless application to decide what to do next)
  • reject your appeal, which means that their decision stays the same
  • issue a new decision based on the new information you gave to them

Information on the review decision

Once the review has been completed, you must be informed in writing of the decision the council has reached. The letter must be sent to you or made available at council offices for you to collect.

The letter must explain:

  • what decision the council has made on your review
  • what information the council used to come to this decision
  • the reason for the decision
  • that you can appeal against the decision to the county court if you think the decision is legally incorrect, and the time limit for doing so

Get advice if you think the review decision is wrong. You might be able to appeal to the county court.

Use Shelter's advice services directory to find a face-to-face adviser near you.

If you want to appeal to the County Court, you must do this within 21 days of the notification of the review decision.


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