Preparing for an internal review of a homelessness decision
How a homeless applicant or their representative should prepare when requesting a review of a local authority decision.
Obtain the housing file
The applicant or their representative should request a copy of the housing file from the local authority. This shows how the decision was made in respect to the application. The relevant sections of the Housing Act 1985 and the Data Protection Act 2018 can be used to obtain the file.
If the file is provided late or not at all, and this leads to unfairness, this may be held to be an error of law and the county court may uphold a subsequent appeal.
An authority will not have acted unreasonably if it provides a file late and the file has no information relevant to the review
Key points and inquiries
The applicant or their representative should identify the key points in dispute and check whether the authority has considered all the relevant circumstances and made sufficient inquiries.
The applicant or their representative should consider who may have evidence to support the applicant's case and where evidence (documentary or oral) may come from. It is important to gather evidence to support the case. Fresh evidence will often need to be obtained in the form of letters or signed statements from family members or friends or acquaintances. Expert evidence may be needed from doctors, psychiatrists or other professionals. Put all relevant evidence to the local authority. An authority cannot be criticised for failing to take into account evidence that has not been put forward
Ask for an extension of time
If someone acting for an applicant needs to make some relevant enquiries but lacks the time or resources to do so, they should tell the local authority what the enquiries are and why they may be relevant.
If an extension of time is needed (for example to consider the housing file or to gather evidence) the applicant or representative should request it and explain why extra time is needed.
Check legal position
The applicant or their representative should check the legal position, in particular
what the legislation says and whether it has been accurately applied and interpreted
the duties owed and whether they have been complied with
any relevant information in the Homelessness Code of Guidance and whether the authority has had regard to it
relevant case law
Identify potential remedies available
The applicant or their representative should identify the full range of potential remedies, for example, review, appeal or judicial review.
Chronology of events
A chronological version of events can be particularly useful in intentionality cases to help establish the applicant's version of events.
Income and expenditure
Affordability of the lost accommodation may be an issue when a case involves intentionality. Affordability may also be relevant if an applicant is seeking a review of the suitability of accommodation.
An income and expenditure sheet dealing with, for example, the relevant period during which arrears accumulated will be needed, along with evidence of the applicant's savings (if any) at the time in question.
Last updated: 19 March 2021