Why ask for a Right to Review?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a homeless review?
By law you can ask a Local Authority to look at a decision that was made on your homeless application. The review can either confirm or overturn the decision made on your homeless application.
You can ask for a review on the following:
- That you are not homeless
- That you are not threatened with homelessness
- That you are not eligible for help (because of your immigration status)
- That you don’t have a priority need
- That you became homeless intentionally
- About the steps you are to take in your Personal Housing Plan at the Prevention or Relief Stage
- About whether you are owed the Prevention, Relief or full duty
- To end the Prevention or Relief
- To end the full s. 193 duty (discharge of duty)
- 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
- 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
How do I know that the decision can be reviewed?
The decision letter that you receive from us will tell you if you can ask for a review. Please contact us if you have any questions.
Is there a time limit for asking for a review?
Yes. You must ask for a review within 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 letter?’).
If you accept temporary accommodation 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?
If you don’t receive the decision letter we can (by law) treat you as if you did receive it. 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.
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. By law we’re not obliged to accept a late review request. We will consider whether we should make an exception. You usually need to show a 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 via post. Please ensure you clearly request the review and highlight which decision (or decisions) you want us to reconsider.
Can someone else act on my behalf?
Yes. You must confirm in writing that they’re acting on your behalf.
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: 020 8405 3552; Website: www.suttoncabx.org.uk
You can also get advice from: Shelter’s free housing helpline 0808 800 4444 (open weekdays 8am to 8pm and 8am to 5pm weekends, 365 days a year) or via their online chat.
Check if you are eligible for legal aid on the Gov.uk website.
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 so that we can 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.
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 eight 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. In some cases, they may have to wait for another organisation to provide that information.
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. We will take account of any relevant changes in your situation when making a decision on your review.
You may be committing 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 provide it. The reviewing officer will determine your eligibility.
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 on Suttons website.
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 via the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
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.