If a young person does not agree with a housing department’s decision on their homelessness application, they can appeal against the decision by requesting a review.
A homeless applicant can request a review of many decisions made by a local authority under homeless law. This includes decisions where the young person is found:
A review can also be requested into the suitability of any accommodation offered (except interim accommodation). A review of the accommodation’s suitability can be requested whether or not the applicant accepts the offer.
Where there is no right to request a review of a decision, it may be challenged by way of judicial review.
A review must usually be requested within 21 days of being notified of the local authority’s decision.
The local authority should make its decision within fixed deadlines; see Shelter Legal for details of the time limits that apply.
Who should conduct the review?
The review must be conducted by a person who was not involved in the original decision. This could be:
Most reviews are based on paper evidence, but in some circumstances local authorities may hold an oral review hearing.
The decision on review may:
The local authority must inform the young person of its decision in writing. If the decision is negative, the letter must give reasons for the decision. There is a further right of appeal to the county court on a point of law (see below).
The local authority does not have to provide accommodation for the young person pending a decision on review. It does, however, have discretion to do so, and this discretion must be exercised reasonably, having regard to:
A failure to consider providing accommodating during a review, or failure to exercise discretion reasonably, can be challenged by way of judicial review.
There is no right to request a review of a decision made on an earlier review. However, a young person can appeal a decision on review to the county court on a point of law. An appeal must be lodged within 21 days. A solicitor will be needed to help with this, so the young person should be referred to for legal advice as soon as possible to avoid missing the deadline.
Young people may need some assistance in understanding the review process.
Advisers can write to the council on the young person’s behalf requesting a review - a request for a review does not have to be made in writing; however, it is good practice to do so, as it keeps a record of the request (see our standard letter requesting a review). Enclose with the letter any evidence available that challenges the decision.
Young people and/or their advisers can request accommodation during the review - in the letter requesting the review, advisers should also request accommodation during the review. Arguments in support of this can include the consequences of not providing accommodation, which may be that the young person has to sleep rough. Accommodation during the review can be requested again if new evidence or argument becomes available.
It may be appropriate/necessary to gather additional evidence in support of a client’s review - this should be enclosed with the written representations.
When making written representations on behalf of clients, advisers should agree a deadline with the local authority for receipt of any further written representations to put the young person’s case. Representations can include:
Advisers will usually be able to accompany clients to an oral hearing.
If the decision on review is against the young person’s interests, and an young person and their adviser/advocate believes that it is a wrong decision, the young person can be referred to a solicitor for consideration of whether there is a case for a county court appeal.
This should be done as soon as possible because of time limits.
If the young person claims certain benefits or has a low income they may be entitled to legal aid. They can call the Civil Legal Advice helpline on 0345 345 4 345 for more information.