Appeals to the county court
If the council reviews its decision about your homelessness application and you are still not happy with the decision, you may be able to appeal to the county court. You may be able to get accommodation from the council until the appeal is completed.
You will probably need advice and help with the appeal. Contact Shelter Cymru if you are considering an appeal.
What decisions can be appealed?
You can only appeal to the county court if you can show that the council has come to a decision that is legally incorrect. This includes decisions about:
- whether you are eligible for help;
- what help the council is, or is not, going to give you;
- whether the council is going to send you to another area because you don’t have a local connection;
- whether the council is going to end the help that is being given to you (sometimes known as a decision to ‘end a duty’);
- whether accommodation offered to you is suitable.
To be legally incorrect you need to be able to prove that the council did something legally wrong when they made their decision, for example, they did not follow the right procedure or they did not consider a piece of information that you provided. It is not enough just to state that you do not agree with the decision.
You can also appeal to the county court if you have not received a review decision and 8 weeks has gone by since you asked for a review.
When can I appeal?
County court appeals have to be started within 21 days of you being notified of the review decision. The 21 days start from the day that you receive the letter, not the date printed on the letter.
In some circumstances, it is possible to begin an appeal after the 21 day time limit has passed, but this is unusual. It is normally only allowed if you have a very good reason for not applying sooner. This might be because you have been seriously ill or did not receive the council’s decision letter. Get advice immediately if you need to make a late appeal.
If 8 weeks has passed since you asked for a review and you have not received any review decision from the council, you can appeal to the county court to try and force a decision. This appeal must be brought within 21 days of the date that you should have had the review decision. If this applies to you, get urgent advice as you will need someone to help you with this.
Will I need help?
Appeals in the county court can be very complicated, so you should get independent advice before taking any action. When you receive written confirmation of the review decision, get advice from a Shelter Cymru adviser, who can:
- check whether the council’s decision was legally correct
- check whether you have a good case for an appeal
- check whether you are eligible for help with legal costs from the Legal Aid Agency
- if appropriate, refer you to Shelter Cymru’s legal team.
Will the council house me during the appeal?
If you need accommodation until the date of the appeal, ask the council to provide it. The council may be willing to provide accommodation even if it hadn’t done so before you started the appeal.
However, councils don’t have a legal responsibility to do so and in areas where there is very little housing available, many councils will refuse. If you are in this situation, get advice immediately. An adviser may be able to:
- persuade the council that it should provide accommodation
- help you to make a separate appeal to the county court if the council still refuses to house you until the appeal.
The court can order the council to provide accommodation until your main appeal hearing if it believes that you have a strong case, which you will have difficulty bringing without accommodation, and will suffer particularly badly if accommodation is not provided.