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Challenge a council waiting list decision

You can challenge a housing waiting list application decision if you think a mistake was made or relevant information wasn't considered.

Decisions the council can review

You can ask the council to review its decision if you:

  • are told you're not allowed on the waiting list
  • disagree with the priority you've been given

You can ask for a review for example if:

  • your health and medical information was ignored
  • the council left out members of your household in its assessment
  • didn't take account of your connection with the area

A review of a decision may lead to the decision being changed.

How to request a review

The council should give you a deadline for requesting a review. This is usually 21 days from when you receive a written decision about your application.

Put your request in writing. You may need to provide new medical or supporting information to help your case. Include any information that shows the council has made a mistake.

If the deadline is close, you may need to phone the council to get your review request in on time. Follow up with a written request. Include the time, date and details of your phone call.

Ask the council how long the review will take. Eight weeks is considered reasonable. The council may say it wants a face-to-face meeting to discuss your case.

Reviews if you are not allowed on the housing register

Councils must allow homeless people and people with health, disability or welfare needs on the register. 

Ask the council to review its decision if it says that you do not qualify under the council's local policy.

Local connection

Local connection rules are set out in the council's allocations policy.

Check the rules and give the council any missing or overlooked evidence to prove your connection. This could include evidence of you or a family member living or working in the area for the required time.

Immigration and nationality eligibility questions

The council may say you can't go on the waiting list because of your immigration or residency status. Eligibility rules are complex and councils sometimes make mistakes.

Get an adviser to help you with your review request.

Health, disability and welfare needs

Ask health professionals, support workers or probation officers to write support letters if you feel the council didn't properly consider your health, disability or welfare needs.

Your child's school may be able to supply information collected to establish any special education needs.

Rent arrears

You might need to negotiate with the council to allow you onto the waiting list if you are excluded because of previous rent arrears.

Get money and debt advice to see if you can put forward a proposal to the council for repaying arrears or to persuade them to write off the debt.

Reviews if you are allowed onto the housing register

You can challenge the council's decision if you feel the council hasn't given you enough priority on the waiting list because it has:

  • wrongly assessed your health and welfare needs
  • not included everyone in your household
  • unfairly penalised you for rent arrears or antisocial behaviour
  • made a mistake about your local connection to the area

These factors can affect your priority for housing and the size or property type you can be considered for.

Ask a housing adviser to help you source supporting information from support workers or health professionals that explain your welfare needs.

Reviews if you are offered housing when homeless

If you are homeless and housed in temporary accommodation, you can request a review of an offer from the housing register if you don't think the offer is suitable.

Review findings

The council writes to tell you the outcome of its review. In most cases there is no further right of appeal.

Judicial review

In some cases a court can look at whether the council's decision or policy is lawful through a judicial review.

Judicial review is a legal action that challenges council decisions. It is a complex process and you will need legal help.

Most decisions cannot be challenged by judicial review.

Help with the review

A housing adviser may be able to help you prepare your review.

Ask an adviser what information to include in your request. Get as much information as possible to help the council change its decision. For example, you could include new medical information or proof you're paying arrears.

Use Shelter's directory to find a local advice service

Making a complaint

You can make a complaint if you're unhappy with the way the council treated you or processed your application.


Last updated 05 Oct 2016 | © Shelter

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