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National Homeless Advice Service

Challenging unsuitable accommodation

Any accommodation provided for homeless people must be ‘suitable’ This means it must be appropriate to their needs. For 16 and 17 year olds, bed and breakfast accommodation should only be considered suitable in an emergency.

Unsuitable accommodation

Accommodation may be unsuitable for a homeless young person because, for example:

  • it is in a homeless hostel or other shared accommodation with a mixed age and needs range of clients, which may place a vulnerable young person in potentially harmful situations
  • the young person may be vulnerable to exploitation or harassment and the accommodation provided places them in danger of this
  • it is located far away from the young person’s family, school, college, work, or other support network
  • no support is available, or the support provided is insufficient or of the wrong type.

See Shelter Legal: Suitability of accommodation

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Challenging unsuitable accommodation

The provision of unsuitable accommodation can be challenged.

The local authority must inform a young person that they have a right to request a review of the suitability of accommodation offered. This remains the case even if they have accepted the offer of accommodation.

Refusing accommodation that the local authority says is suitable for the young person could mean that the authority doesn’t have to give them any other accommodation, so it is usually best to accept the offer and request a review. If the local authority then accept that the accommodation is unsuitable they must find the young person somewhere else to live.

Young people and their advisers should check whether the accommodation can be made suitable. For example, it may be possible for the council or another agency (such as a housing association that provides a floating support service, or social services) to provide extra support or services (such as a bus pass to help the young person get to college from their accommodation). These steps could make the accommodation more suitable.

A formal challenge of the suitability of interim accommodation provided whilst the local authority makes its inquiries into the young person’s application can only be made by way of judicial review.

For more information, see Requesting a review of a homelessness decision.

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