What can you do if you are unhappy with a decision?
If you are unhappy about a decision that has been made about your application for council or housing association accommodation, you may be able to take action.
Which decisions can be challenged?
You can take action if you are not happy because:
- you disagree with a decision that’s been made about your case, for example because you’ve been given low priority on the waiting list, or
- you think you have been treated unfairly or discriminated against, or
- you are unhappy with the way your application was processed, for example if they took an unreasonably long time to make a decision.
Asking for a review
A review is where the council looks at your application again. A review must be carried out by a different and more senior person than the original decision.
Do I have a right to ask for a review?
You have a right to ask for a review of :
- any decision made by the council about the facts of your case
- a decision made by the council that you are ineligible to be considered for housing, whether because of unacceptable behaviour or because of immigration status.
You can ask for a review in other situations, but the council doesn’t necessarily have to agree to carry out the review. This would be the case if you want to review:
- a decision that an offer of housing is suitable
- a grade or recommendation made by the council’s medical adviser
- a decision about your priority for housing.
What do I need to consider before asking for a review?
Always get advice before asking for a review. If you have a right to a review, you must usually ask for it within 21 days of receiving the decision; so make sure you do this quickly.
If you have been offered a home, and you refuse it while the review takes place, you could lose that offer and your place on the waiting list. Bear in mind that just because you don’t like a decision doesn’t mean that it is wrong and a review may reach the same decision – or, in some cases, a worse decision.
Using the official complaints procedure
If you are not happy with the outcome of any review, or, the council or housing association have refused to carry out a review, you might be able to use their own complaints procedure. Contact the housing association or the council’s housing department or customer care department to find out how to make an official complaint.
Complaining to the Ombudsman
If you have a complaint you can contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
The Ombudsman is independent and investigates complaints about councils or housing associations not doing something they should have done or doing things in the wrong way. It can look into the way the council or housing association dealt with your application to make sure that it acted fairly and followed the correct procedures.
Usually you will have to make a formal complaint to the council or housing association before the Ombudsman will consider your complaint.
Examples of complaints the Ombudsman can deal with include situations where the council or housing association:
- took an overly long time to come to a decision
- discriminated against you when it made its decision
- gave you bad or misleading advice.
You have to complain in writing and should include copies of any evidence that supports your complaint, such as letters from the council or housing association.
Have a look at the Ombudsman fact sheet on Housing Allocation for further guidance.
Applying to court for a judicial review
Judicial review is a type of legal case that can be used to challenge the way that decisions have been made by public organisations such as the council. It is used to challenge the way that decisions have been made, rather than the decisions themselves.
Even if the judicial review is successful, the court can’t impose its own decision on your case (for example, it can’t award you more points), but it can overturn the council’s decision and make the housing department look at it again.
Judicial review is very complicated, so you should get specialist advice before taking any action.
You may be able to get help from a legal aid lawyer if you are on certain benefits or have a low income. Shelter Cymru has a legal team who can tell you whether you have a good case and, if so, might be able to help and represent you. Contact a Shelter Cymru adviser who can refer you to the legal team as necessary.
You may also contact the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345.
Have any papers you received from the council with you when you speak to an adviser.
We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 0345 075 5005.