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Reviews of council homelessness decisions

If you think a decision the council has made about your homeless application is wrong, for example if you have been judged as intentionally homeless you can normally ask the council to review it. The council should let you stay in your temporary accommodation while the review is carried out.

What decisions can be reviewed?

Most decisions that the council makes in connection with a homeless application can be reviewed. This includes:

  • whether the council has a duty to help you
  • whether you should be referred to another council where you have a local connection
  • the suitability of accommodation provided after the council has completed its inquiries.

The council's decision was wrong

If you think the council's decision was wrong, you can ask for a review. This includes decisions about whether you:

  • are eligible for assistance
  • are homeless or threatened with homelessness
  • are homeless intentionally
  • can be sent to another council because you don't have a local connection.

The council has provided unsuitable temporary accommodation

You can also ask for a review if you think that the temporary accommodation you are offered after the council has finished its inquiries is not suitable for you. You can do this whether you have accepted the offer or not. However, if you don't have anywhere else to stay, it may be better to accept an unsuitable offer. 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.

Challenging the suitability of emergency accommodation provided before the council has finished its inquiries is much more difficult. It can only be done by going to court. Get advice if you are in this situation. An adviser can look into whether you have a chance of getting the council to offer you something else.

The council's offer of permanent accommodation is unsuitable

You can ask the council to review its decision if you are offered permanent accommodation that you don't think is suitable. However, talk to an adviser before you turn the offer down. If you refuse a final offer that the council thinks is suitable for you, it may not have to give you any more help. The offer will be withdrawn and you will have to leave your temporary accommodation.

In some cases, it may be better to accept an unsuitable offer because:

  • you can ask the council to review its decision about whether the accommodation is suitable after you move in
  • you will have somewhere to stay while the council reviews its decision
  • you will have somewhere to stay if your review is unsuccessful
  • if it is a council tenancy, you may be able to request a transfer, or exchange your home with another council tenant.

How can I request 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. You can request a review verbally or in writing. If possible, make the request in writing and keep a copy for your records.

Councils have to consider any requests made after 21 days have passed, but they don't have to agree to carry out a review.

What will happen during the review?

Once the council receives a request for a review, it has to acknowledge your request and inform you of the procedure that will be followed. You will usually be given a time limit for providing more information about your situation. 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.

The procedures vary from one council to another but you will normally be given the opportunity to put your arguments in writing or in person. The council should allow you to bring along someone else to provide support or to represent you, such as a friend or a housing adviser or legal representative. You also have a right to an interpreter, if you need one.

The review has to be carried out by a council officer who wasn't involved in the original decision and who is superior in rank to the person who made the original decision. There is no requirement for a person who is independent from the council to be involved in the review.

Will the council house me during the review?

It can take eight weeks or sometimes longer for a review to be completed, and the council should provide you with temporary accommodation while it is carrying out the review. If the council refuses to do so, get advice immediately.

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 on your review
  • how the council has come to this decision
  • which parts of the original decision (if any) have now been changed.

You should also get advice if you think the review decision is wrong.

Can I then ask for another review?

You can't ask the council to review a decision it has already reviewed. However, you may be able to complain to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman or to apply for judicial review.

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This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • Nearly any decision that is made on your homeless application can be reviewed.
  • Examples of what you can get reviewed are, what duty is owed you, or whether an offer of permanent accommodation is suitable or not.
  • You have 21 days from when any decision is made on your application to ask for a review.
  • Use the Advice Services Directory to get help with your review. 

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