Get help from the council

Challenge a council decision

You can ask for a review if the council decides:

The council must give you a letter that explains their decision.

You can ask for a review of the decision within 21 days if you think it's wrong.

Offers of unsuitable housing

You can ask for a review if you think an offer of temporary or longer term housing is unsuitable for you or your family.

You should accept the offer but ask for a review within 21 days if it's unsuitable.

The council must give you a letter that explains:

  • why they think the offer is suitable

  • what happens if you accept or refuse the offer

  • if it's a final offer (from the housing register or a private tenancy)

Find out about suitability requirements for offers of longer term housing.

Unsuitable emergency housing

You cannot challenge unsuitable emergency housing in the same way.

Raise any concerns about the safety or quality of the accommodation with the council. They should address any safety risks and may offer something more suitable.

You may have to accept lower standards than in longer term housing. Emergency accommodation has to be very unsuitable for a legal challenge to succeed.

Help under your personal housing plan

You can also ask for a review of:

  • the steps the council say they will take under your plan

  • a decision to end the help provided under the plan

How to ask for a review

You must ask for a review within 21 days of getting the council's decision or offer letter.

Send a letter or email and ask for a copy of your housing file. 

You do not need to give reasons for asking for a review at this stage.

Use our template letter to ask for a review of a council homelessness decision

Phone and ask for a review if you're close to the deadline. You can send further information later.

The council will only consider a late request if you have a very good reason for not asking within time, for example, you were in hospital.

Emergency housing during a review

Ask for emergency housing if you need it.

In most cases, the council can provide emergency housing during a review or appeal but they don't have to. They must consider your situation, any new information and what will happen to you if they refuse.

You can only challenge a refusal of emergency housing in court. A solicitor can tell you if you have a case.

If you ask for a suitability review, you should accept the housing offer anyway in case your challenge is unsuccessful.

Get legal advice

It's always best to get advice if you want to challenge a council decision.

You may qualify for free legal help if you're on a low income.

What happens next

The council informs you of the review procedure in writing.

You should send further information which shows why you think the decision is legally wrong or why the housing offer is unsuitable.

Ask for a meeting

The council may send you or your legal adviser a letter telling you that your review is unlikely to succeed. You can ask for a face to face meeting at this stage if you want one.

Final decision

The council must write to you with a review decision and the reasons for it.

There are different time limits depending on why you've asked for a review:

  • 8 weeks - to review if you qualify for the main housing duty

  • 8 weeks - to review an unsuitable housing offer

  • 12 weeks - if you challenge a local connection referral

The time limit is only 3 weeks if you ask for a review of the council's steps in your plan, or a decision to stop helping when you're threatened with homelessness.

The council might ask to extend the time limits. It's your choice whether to agree.

Appeal to court

You can appeal to court if the council's review decision is legally wrong or if the council does not give you a final decision within the time limit.

You must start a court appeal within 21 days of getting your review decision or the time limit for a review ending. It can take months for a case to be heard in court.

A solicitor can check if you have a case and provide representation.

Last updated: 16 November 2020

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