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Internal reviews of homelessness decisions

A person has the right to an internal review of some decisions a local authority makes as part of a homeless application.

This content applies to England

When someone can ask for a review

A person who has made a homeless application has the right request that the local authority reviews certain types of decision.[1] This includes if the authority decides the person:

  • is not homeless

  • is not eligible

  • does not have a priority need

  • is intentionally homeless

The person can also request a review of a decision:

  • to end the prevention or relief duties

  • to refer the person to another local authority

  • that an offer of accommodation made under the main housing duty is suitable

There is no right to request a review of some other types of decision. For example, on the suitability of emergency accommodation.

Find out more about which decisions can be challenged by an internal review.

Time limits for requesting a review

The person normally must request a review within 21 days of being notified of the local authority’s decision.[2]

The local authority can accept a review request outside of 21 days at its own discretion.

Find out more about time limits to request an internal review.

The review process

The local authority only needs to carry out a review if the person has asked it to.

A review request can be made in writing, by email or verbally. It is best for the person to confirm in writing that they are asking for a review and what decision they want the authority to look at.

Who carries out the review

The review can be carried out by the local authority or someone acting on its behalf. The person carrying out the review must not have been involved in the original decision and should be senior to the person who made that decision.[3]

Most local authorities have a reviewing officer who carries out internal reviews.


The person can provide written representations to explain why they think the decision was incorrect.

Where the decision was on whether the steps taken under the prevention or relief duty were reasonable, or about ending the prevention duty, any representations must be submitted within two weeks of the decision. For other types of decision, there is no statutory time limit for making written submissions. They should be made within a reasonable period.[4] The local authority might require written submissions to be sent by a set date.

Where the reviewing officer finds a flaw in the decision

If the person carrying out the review finds that there was an error or deficiency in the original decision, but they are minded to make a negative decision they must notify the person. The notification should explain why they are minded to make a negative decision and tell the person they can make further oral or written representations.[5]

Time limits for carrying out a review

The amount of time a local authority has to carry out a review depends on the decision being challenged.[6]

The authority has three weeks to complete a review of what are reasonable steps under the prevention or relief duties, or ending the prevention duty.

It has eight weeks to review a decision about eligibility, priority need, intentional homelessness, referring someone to another authority or suitability of accommodation.

For some decisions relating to local connection referrals the authority has ten or twelve weeks to carry out the review.

The authority and the applicant can agree in writing to an extension of the time to carry out the review.

Find out more about the amount of time for the internal review process.

The review decision

The local authority must provide the person with the decision in writing.

The decision letter must give reasons if it is a negative decision or confirms a decision to make a referral to another local authority.[7]

The letter must tell the person they have the right to appeal the review decision to the County Court.[8]

Legal help with a review

Someone who wants to review a homelessness decision should try to get legal advice.

An adviser or solicitor could help the person:

  • gather evidence

  • request the person's housing file

  • identify what the local authority has done wrong

  • make representations to the local authority

Internal reviews of homelessness decisions are in scope for legal aid.

Find out where to get advice about homelessness.

Accommodation pending review

When someone requests a review of a decision, the local authority normally has a power to provide accommodation pending the outcome of the review.[9] This is at the local authority’s discretion and the authority does not have to provide accommodation, even if the person has a priority need.

In some circumstances the local authority has a duty to continue to provide accommodation pending a review. This is where the person is owed the interim duty, and they have requested a review of the suitability of a final accommodation offer or final part 6 offer to end the relief duty.[10]

Find out more about accommodation during a review.

Appeals to the County Court

A person can appeal to the County Court if they disagree with a review decision or do not receive a review decision within the time limit.

An appeal can only be made on a point of law. For example, if the local authority did not carry out the review correctly or ignored relevant facts.

The person must appeal within 21 days of being notified of the review decision. They should get legal advice from a solicitor.

Find out more about County Court appeals.

Template letter: Ask for a review

A person making a homeless application can use this template to request an internal review of a decision. The letter can be copied into an email to send to the local authority.

(Use the reference number on the council’s decision letter as the email subject).

I would like to ask for a review under s.202(1), Housing Act 1996.

I wish to review the council’s decision of (date decision was made) about my recent homelessness application. I received the decision on (date received).

The council decided that (include information about the decision).

Please provide me with a copy of my housing file. This request is made under s.106(5), Housing Act 1985 and s.45(1), Data Protection Act 2018.

I am seeking urgent legal advice and help with the review process.

Please delay making a decision on review until my legal adviser has had the opportunity to review my file and make written representations on my behalf.

(Delete if not needed) I also ask that you continue to provide temporary accommodation until a review decision has been made.

You can also send the letter as an email attachment or through the post:

Last updated: 30 January 2023


  • [1]

    s.202 Housing Act 1996.

  • [2]

    s.202(3) Housing Act 1996.

  • [3]

    reg 8 Homelessness (Review Procedure etc) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/223.

  • [4]

    para 19.17 Homelessness Code of Guidance, MHCLG, Feb 2018.

  • [5]

    reg 7(2) Homelessness (Review Procedure etc.) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/223.

  • [6]

    reg 9 Homelessness (Review Procedure etc.) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/223.

  • [7]

    s.203(4) Housing Act 1996.

  • [8]

    s.203(5) Housing Act 1996.

  • [9]

    s.188(3) Housing Act 1996.

  • [10]

    s.188(2A) Housing Act 1996.