Asking for a review of a council’s decision
If you think a decision the council has made about your homelessness application is wrong, you can normally ask the council to review it. You must ask for a review within 21 days. The council must then look at the decision again.
It’s always best to get urgent legal advice if you want to ask for a review. Contact Shelter Cymru for help and advice.
What decisions can be reviewed?
Most decisions that the council makes in connection with a homelessness application can be reviewed. This includes:
- Any decision about whether you are eligible for help;
- Any decision about what help the council is, or is not, going to give you;
- A decision to send you to another council because you don’t have a local connection;
- A decision to end the help that is being given to you (sometimes known as a ‘notice of end of duty’ letter);
- Any decision about the suitability of accommodation offered to you.
Decisions about the suitability of accommodation
You can ask for a review if you do not think a property offered to you is suitable. You can do this whether you have accepted the offer or not.
You should accept the offer but ask for a review within 21 days if it’s unsuitable. This is because:
- there is no guarantee that you will be offered something more suitable
- you will have somewhere to stay while the council reviews its decision
- you will have somewhere to stay if your review is unsuccessful.
For more advice about the suitability of accommodation, click here.
Notice of end of duty decisions
You can ask for a review of a council’s decision to end their duty to you.
If the council are making this decision because they believe that reasonable steps have been taken, any review should consider:
- whether the reasonable steps taken took into account your needs
- the council’s resources
- how the council undertook the agreed steps
- the likely success of the reasonable steps
- the reasonableness of your expectations
- your cooperation and capacity to undertake the reasonable steps.
If the review officer decides that reasonable steps were not taken, the ‘help to secure’ duty will start again and a new 56-day period will run from the date that the review decision is notified to the you.
How can I ask for a review?
You have to ask for a review within 21 days of getting the written decision letter. The 21 days start from the date that you receive the letter, not the date printed on the letter. It is always a good idea to keep the letter and envelope in case there is any dispute about when you received it.
You, or someone acting on your behalf, can ask for a review verbally or in writing. If you ask for a review verbally, get the council to confirm in writing that they have received the request from you. Where possible, it is best to ask for a review in writing and keep a copy of the letter. Use our sample Homeless review request letter.
If you want to ask for a review after 21 days has passed, get advice immediately. It will be up to the council to decide whether to accept a late request so make sure you explain the reasons why you did not ask for the review within the 21 days.
What will happen during the review?
Once the council receives a request for a review, it must, within 5 working days:
- tell you about the procedure that will be followed in the review; and
- invite you, or someone acting on your behalf, to give further information in support of the review. They should inform you that this information can be given in writing or verbally. This is your chance to give the council more information about your situation and the reasons why you disagree with the decision. If you want to give your information verbally the council should allow you to have someone else to represent you, such as a housing adviser.
The review has to be carried out by a council officer who wasn’t involved in the original decision.
You should also be given a date by which a decision on your review will be made. This is normally 56 days (eight weeks) from the date that you asked for the review.
‘Minded to’ letters
The council may write to you to tell you that they are ‘minded to’ make a negative decision against you ie: that your review is unlikely to be successful.
The letter should tell you:
- the reasons why they think the review is not going to succeed, and
- that you can send more information in, or make further representations verbally.
This is your opportunity to ask for a face-to-face meeting if you want one.
Will the council house me during the review?
It can take 8 weeks or sometimes longer for a review to be carried out. Ask the council for emergency housing if you need it during that time – they can provide you with housing although don’t always have to.
If the council refuses to give you emergency housing during the review, get advice immediately. An adviser can help you negotiate with the council. If the council still won’t provide accommodation, you may be able to challenge the decision in court by way of judicial review. However, this can be difficult and you will need specialist help.
How will I find out about the review decision?
Once the review has been completed, you must be informed in writing of the decision the council has reached. The letter must be sent to you or made available at council offices for you to collect. It must explain:
- what decision the council has made
- the reasons for the decision, if the decision is unfavourable
- that you can appeal against the decision to the county court if you think the decision is legally incorrect, and that you have 21 days in which to do so.
You should get advice if you don’t get a decision letter within eight weeks from the date you asked the council to review its decision. You may be able to appeal to the County Court to force the council to make a decision. If you want to do this, you must apply to court within 21 days of the end of the eight week period.
You should also get advice if you think the review decision is wrong.