Your right to a homeless review
If you disagree with the decision made on your homeless application, you can ask us to review it. Below is how to request a review and explains what happens next.
What is a homeless review?
By law you can ask the Local Authority to look at a decision that was made on your homeless application. The review can either change the decision made on your homeless application or uphold it. A Reviewing Officer who is senior to the person making the decision and had no prior involvement with your case will check to ensure the right decision was made.
You can ask for a review on the following decisions:
A decision that you are not homeless
A decision that you are not threatened with homelessness
A decision that you are not eligible for help (because of your immigration status)
A decision that you don’t have a priority need
A decision that you became homeless intentionally
A decision about the steps you are to take in your Personal Housing Plan at the Prevention or Relief Stage
A decision about whether you are owed the Prevention, Relief or full duty
A decision to end the Prevention or Relief
A decision to end the full s. 193 duty (discharge of duty)
A decision to end the duty towards you where you are considered to have deliberately and unreasonably refused to cooperate with the steps taken to prevent or relieve your homelessness
A decision that your case has been transferred to another Council because you don’t have a local connection with our area but have a connection with the other council’s area
the suitability of accommodation offered to you under the Relief or full, s. 193 duty
the suitability of accommodation offered to you as a final accommodation offer
What if I’m unsure whether a particular decision can be reviewed?
The decision letter we send you will tell you if you can ask for a review. Please contact us if you have any questions. You can also get independent advice (see ‘Can I get independent advice?’ below).
Is there a time limit for asking for a review?
Yes. You must ask for a review within 21 days of being notified of the decision. This usually means 21 days from when you receive the decision letter. Special rules apply if you don’t receive the decision letter (see the next section ‘What if I don’t receive the decision?’).
If you accepted an interim accommodation some time ago after we determined that we had a full housing duty towards you and you want us to reconsider its suitability, you’ll need to demonstrate that the accommodation has become unsuitable since you accepted it because your circumstances have changed.
What if I don’t receive the decision letter or I only find out about the decision after the 21-day deadline has expired and want the decision reviewed?
If you don’t receive the decision letter we can usually treat you as if you did receive it (by law). This is because decisions are available for you (or someone on your behalf) to collect from our office at Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1EA.
However, you can ask us to extend the 21-day deadline and accept a late review if you miss the deadline because you didn’t receive the decision.
What if I miss the 21-day deadline for asking for a review?
You lose your right to review if you miss the 21-day deadline for asking for a review. However, you can ask us to accept a late review and give your reasons for it. By law we’re not obliged to accept a late review request. We will consider whether we should make an exception in your case. You usually need to show a very good reason for your delay in asking for a review.
How do I ask for a review?
You (or someone acting on your behalf) can request a review in person at our offices, by email, or in writing. Make sure you clearly ask for a review and tell us which decision (or decisions) you want us to reconsider.
Must I give my reasons for asking for a review when requesting the review?
No. We’ll always write and give you a date to provide your reasons and any supporting information you want us to consider. Explaining why you’re asking for a review straight away can help us make a quicker decision.
Can someone else act on my behalf?
Yes. You can ask someone else to act for you in connection with your review. You must confirm in writing that they’re acting on your behalf. Representatives usually have a form you can complete. See ‘Can I get independent advice?’ below for organisations that may be able to advise and represent you.
Can I get independent advice?
Yes. The following organisations may be able to advise and represent you in connection with your review:
Citizens Advice - Tel: 0208 405 3552, Website: http://www.suttoncabx.org.uk/get-advice.php
You can also get advice from: Shelter’s free housing helpline 0808 800 4444 (open weekdays 8am – 8pm and 8am – 5pm weekends, 365 days a year). They also have an online chat facility available at: https://england.shelter.org.uk/get_help/webchat
You can check if you can get legal aid at www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid
Do I need to provide an address? What if I’m homeless and don’t have an address?
We strongly advise you to provide a contact address because we’ll need to write to you during the review process. You should also tell us if your address changes (even if it’s only a temporary address).
If you’re moving from place to place or sleeping rough we suggest you get an independent adviser to represent you. We can then send your letters to them (see ‘Can I get independent advice?’ above for organisations that may be able to represent you).
If your only way to keep in contact is via phone or email, ensure you provide a correct telephone number and email address and keep us updated if they change. We can email the letters we’re sending you or we can phone you to tell you a letter is ready to collect from our office at Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1EA.
Who will make the decision on my review?
A senior officer who was not involved in the original decision will make the review decision.
What procedure does Encompass follow when carrying out a review?
Once we’ve received your review request we will write to you within 14 days and:
Invite you to make written and/or oral representations in connection with the review. If you want, you can get someone else to make representations on your behalf).
Give you a date when we must receive your reasons for requesting a review and any supporting information.
Confirm the procedure we’ll follow in connection with the review.
Confirm who will carry out the review.
Give you the name and details of the reviewing officer you can contact if you have any questions about your review.
If the reviewing officer considers there was a deficiency or irregularity in the original decision or in how the decision was made, but is considering making an adverse review decision, special safeguards apply. The reviewing officer would then:
Give you advance notice in writing that they’re considering making an adverse decision, despite the deficiencies or irregularities.
Confirm the reasons why.
Confirm that you or someone acting on your behalf can make further representations to the reviewing officer. This can be done orally or in writing.
Will I receive a copy of the review decision in writing?
Yes. We will send you a written copy of the review decision to the address or email address you’ve given us. If the decision goes against you the letter will tell you why we made the decision.
You can collect a copy of the decision letter from our office at Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1EA.
If you don’t receive the letter we can treat it as if you did receive it because we have made it available for you to collect.
How long will it take to make a decision on my review?
By law, we must notify you of the decision within 8 weeks of your review request, unless an extension has been agreed. We will try to make a decision as soon as possible, but the reviewing officer may need time to gather further information or needs to wait for another organisation to send it.
How do you decide whether to overturn the original decision or not?
The reviewing officer is objective and will consider your particular situation taking account of the relevant laws, legal cases, Government guidance, and any information you provide.
What if my situation changes once I have asked for a review?
You must tell the reviewing officer if your situation changes. For example you must tell us if you move to another address, even if it’s only temporary. We will take account of any relevant changes in your situation when making a decision on your review.
You may commit a criminal offence if:
you don’t tell us about a relevant change in your circumstances
you withhold information we need to administer your homeless application, or
you make a false statement intending to make us believe that you’re homeless or qualify for accommodation or help.
Will accommodation be arranged for me while I wait for a decision on my review?
You can ask for temporary accommodation, but we’re not under a duty to do so. The reviewing officer will determine whether to grant you accommodation pending the review.
We usually only arrange accommodation when the original decision was flawed, or when there are exceptional circumstances.
What if I’m unhappy with the review decision? Can I appeal?
Yes. You can appeal to the County Court if you disagree with the review decision, or if we fail to notify you of a decision within eight weeks (or within a longer period that has been agreed).
You can only appeal ‘on a point of law’. This means you have reasons for claiming that a legal error has been made in how the reviewing officer dealt with your review. You should get independent legal advice. A legal adviser will be able to tell you if you’re entitled to legal aid to pay for an appeal.
Does my right to ask for a review mean I can’t complain?
No. You can also use the complaint procedures. For example, you can complain if you’re unhappy with how we’ve handled your case.
However, you should ask for a review if you want us to overturn a decision we’ve made on your homeless application.
More information about the complaints procedure (and a complaint form) is available online at
You can also complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is likely to uphold a complaint if you’ve suffered injustice because we’ve mishandled your case. However, the Ombudsman may decide they can’t investigate until you’ve exhausted our complaints procedure. Also, the Ombudsman may refuse to look into a complaint if you have a right of review or appeal. More information about making an Ombudsman complaint (and a complaint form) is available online at www.lgo.org.uk
What if I have more questions about homeless reviews?
Please contact the Housing Advice, Information & Assessment Team, and we’ll be happy to help you. Our contact details are given below.
Address: Encompass, Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1EA
Tel: 020 8770 5000