How to challenge an overcrowding decision

You might think that an overcrowding decision or policy is unfair.

Depending on the situation you could:

  • ask for a review

  • make a formal complaint

  • contact your local councillor or MP

Check your council's policy

Ask the council for a copy of their allocations scheme or transfer policy.

The council must give you a summary of the rules if you ask for them.

The full policy should be on their website.

Find the right bit of the policy by searching for words like:

  • bedroom

  • reasonable preference

  • overcrowded or overcrowding

Check your overcrowding situation against the policy.

The bedroom standard is the recommended measure of overcrowding for the housing register. Not all councils use this and yours might use something different.

If your home is overcrowded by law the council must give you some priority on the waiting list as long as you meet the immigration conditions.

Ask for a review

You can do this if the council or housing association:

  • refuse your application for housing or a transfer

  • give you less priority or put you in the wrong band

  • offer a tenancy that is not suitable for your family

You often have 3 weeks to ask for a review of an offer or decision.

The letter from the council or housing association should tell you any deadline.

Choose a letter template

Complain to the council or housing association

You can do this if they:

  • ignore your emails

  • do not call you back

  • have a policy that seems unfair

  • treat you in a way that is rude or discriminatory

  • do not give you information you can easily understand

You can also complain if they do not follow the law or their own policies. But it's best to ask for a review first. You can complain later if you're not happy with the review decision.

How to complain

The council or housing association should make it easy for you to complain in different ways.

For example:

  • in person

  • over the phone

  • by email or letter

  • through their website

Ask for a copy of their complaints process.

You can often find this online but make sure you're looking at the most recent process.

Find your:

How soon a complaint should be dealt with

Most councils and housing associations have a 2 stage complaints process.

Your landlord's complaints policy should set out how long each stage should take.

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO) is a free and independent service that resolves disputes and complaints.

You can complain to them if you:

  • are not happy with the final response

  • experience unreasonable delays

The LGSCO says 12 weeks is a reasonable time for a council to give you a final response.

How to complain to the LGSCO

You can use the LGSCO online complaint form.

If you cannot use the form you can phone them on 0300 061 0614

Contact your local councillor or MP

Your local councillor can:

  • raise your problem with the council's housing team

  • help develop plans and policies to deal with overcrowded housing

Councillors are elected representatives for your local community. Their role is unpaid.

Your local MP can:

  • run local advice surgeries

  • vote on new laws in parliament

  • raise issues of concern from your area in the House of Commons

How to contact your local councillor or MP

Use WriteToThem to:

  • find your local councillor or MP

  • send them an email

Local councillors and MPs are there to represent you even if you did not vote for them.


Last updated: 11 June 2023

If you need to talk to someone, we'll do our best to help

Get help