Homeless: get help from your council

  1. Overview
  2. Who qualifies
  3. How to apply
  4. Challenge the council’s decision
  5. Help if the council won’t house you


Challenge the council’s decision

Ask the council to review its decision

You can ask the council to review a decision:

  • that you don't qualify for longer-term housing (for example, you're not in priority need or are intentionally homeless)
  • to refer you to a different council because you have links somewhere else
  • to offer you longer-term housing that's not suitable for your needs

Don't refuse an offer of housing without getting advice, or the council could refuse to help you with any other housing.

Send a review request letter

Use Shelter's template to email or write to your council.

You need to ask the council to review its decision within 21 days of getting the decision letter. 

The council only considers late review requests if you can show a good reason for not asking within the time limit.

Send further information

You'll need to provide further information after sending your review request letter. 

You're more likely to win if:

  • you can prove that you do qualify for housing (you meet all the council's conditions)
  • you have new information or your circumstances have changed (for example, your health problems are worse)
  • the council didn't take some information into account (for example, you lost your home because you lost your job)

Ask for a meeting

The council may write to tell you that your review is unlikely to succeed. You can ask for a meeting if you get this letter.

Final decision

The council should write to you within 8 weeks to tell you its final decision and the reasons for it.

Take court action

You can appeal to court if:

  • the council's review decision is legally wrong
  • you don't get a review decision within 8 weeks of asking for a review  

You must start your court appeal within 21 days of receiving the review decision or the 8-week time limit passing.

It could be months before your case is heard.

If you win your case, the court usually asks the council to look at the decision again. Sometimes the court will make its own decision and order the council to provide you with suitable housing.

Challenge a refusal of emergency housing

You'll need to take court action to challenge the council if it:

  • refuses to accept a homelessness application
  • fails to provide emergency accommodation when you meet the conditions 
  • puts you in unsuitable emergency accommodation

Housing while you challenge the council

You should ask the council to provide emergency housing if you need it.

The council doesn't have to provide housing while you challenge a decision. It must look at your situation and any new information. 

You'll need to take court action if the council refuses to house you during a review or appeal.

Get legal advice

You should get legal advice if you want to ask for a review or go to court. 

A housing adviser can help with a review. A solicitor to help with court action.

Find face-to-face advice in your area using Shelter's advice directory.

Check if you can get legal aid to help pay for legal advice.


How to apply


Help if the council won’t house you

Last updated - 01 Sep 2017

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