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Right to internal review

This content applies to England

When an applicant has the right to apply for an internal review of a homelessness decision.

Statutory review

Applicants have a right to request an internal review of most local authority homelessness decisions.[1] The review is carried out by the authority that made the decision, which should follow a specific procedure.

There is no statutory right to a second review of an original decision or to a review of a decision made on review although local authorities may exercise discretion to carry out either.[2]

Reviewable decisions

The key local authority decisions that can be reviewed are:

  • whether the applicant is eligible for assistance, homeless, in priority need, intentionally homeless or has a local connection, and therefore what duty the authority owes[3]
  • what steps the authority is to take in order to prevent or relieve homelessness, which includes having regard to the assessment of the applicant's case in the personalised housing plan[4]
  • to end either the prevention or relief duty[5]
  • to notify the applicant that s/he has deliberately and unreasonably refused to cooperate with the authority[6]
  • a notification that a local authority is going to make or has made a referral to another authority (before a decision has been made on whether the referral is successful) where this is made at the stage of main housing duty[7]
  • the decision made on whether a referral to another authority is successful, whether this decision is made at the stage of relief or main housing duty [8]
  • the suitability of accommodation  provided in discharge of the local authority's duties under Part 7 (ie while duties subsist) and offered in order to end duties.[9] The applicant may either accept or reject the offer and in either case still request a review.[10] Note that this right does not extend to a review of the suitability of interim accommodation.
  • whether a duty has been discharged towards the applicant.[11]

Decisions not subject to internal review

The most important decisions that are not subject to internal review are:

  • a refusal to accept a homelessness application
  • a challenge based on the length of time in accommodation to provided to people who are in priority need but intentionally homeless
  • the suitability of interim accommodation
  • the assessment of need and the content of the personalised housing plan (but an applicant has a right to request a review of the steps the authority is to take to prevent or relieve homelessness, as above). See Devising personalised housing plans for details.
  • a decision not to provide accommodation pending a review
  • decisions about the protection of property
  • a refusal to accept an out of time review or to carry out a discretionary second review.

These decisions can be challenged by judicial review.

Applications made before 3 April 2018

Where an application was made before 3 April 2018, the local authority was under no statutory duty to carry out prevention or relief work. Therefore, there will be no right of review in respect of these matters.

[1] s.202 Housing Act 1996.

[2] s.202(2) Housing Act 1996; R(B) v Redbridge LBC ex p B [2019] EWHC 250.

[3] s.202(1)(b) Housing Act 1996 as amended by s.9(2) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[4] s.202(1)(ba)(i) and (bc)(i) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.9(2) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[5] s.202(1)(ba)(ii) and (bc)(ii) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.9(2) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[6] s.202(1)(bb) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.9(2) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[7] s.202(1)(c) Housing Act 1996.

[8] s.202(1)(d) Housing Act 1996.

[9] s.202(1)(f) and (g) Housing Act 1996 and s.202(1)(h) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.9(2)(d) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[10] s.202(1B) Housing Act 1996 as inserted by s.9(2) Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.

[11] Ravichandran & Anor v Lewisham LBC [2010] EWCA Civ 755.

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