Refusing an offer of an unsuitable council home
If you're already homeless or in temporary accommodation
If you're homeless or in temporary accommodation it's best not to refuse an offer of a council home.
If you turn down an offer of housing your council thinks is suitable, they could refuse to find you another home.
Find out more about what to do if you're offered housing because you're homeless.
Your local council or housing association will look at the information on your application before allocating you a home.
If you're offered a home, it should be suitable for your needs.
Check if the home is suitable
Check your local council or housing association's allocation scheme - it should explain more about what counts as suitable.
Your home might not be suitable if:
- you or anybody you live with is disabled or has a health condition that could get worse if you moved in - for example if stairs would be a problem
- there aren't enough bedrooms for you and the people you live with - check your council or housing association's allocation scheme for their rules
- you need a home with adaptations because of a health condition - for example a seat in the shower because you can't stand up for long
- the location of the home could put you in danger, for example if it's close to a violent ex-partner
If you had to leave your council or housing association home because of domestic abuse
Check if you had a ‘secure’ or ‘assured’ tenancy - ask your local council if you’re not sure.
If you had to leave a secure or assured tenancy because of domestic violence, your local council shouldn’t offer you a flexible tenancy. If they do, you can challenge it - they should give you a secure tenancy instead. Check how to challenge the council’s decision to offer you a flexible tenancy.
Domestic abuse is behaviour from a family member, partner or ex-partner. It can include:
- physical or sexual abuse
- violent or threatening behaviour
- psychological or emotional abuse
- coercive behaviour - for example, humiliation or intimidation
- controlling behaviour - for example, making someone feel less important or dependent on the abuser
- 'economic abuse' - this includes controlling someone's possessions or how they earn or spend money
Check your local council's rules
It's important to check your local council or housing association's allocation scheme before you refuse an offer. There might be a penalty for refusing - this means you could end up worse off.
You can find your local council's allocation scheme on their website - check who your local council is on GOV.UK if you're not sure.
Depending on their rules, if your local council or housing association disagree with your reasons for refusing the home they might:
- move you down the waiting list - this means it'll take longer to get another offer
- remove you from their waiting list altogether - you might have to wait before applying again
If you still want to refuse the offer
Check your local council or housing association's allocation scheme to see if there's a time limit for refusing.
The allocation scheme should also explain how to refuse an offer - you'll usually need to write a letter.
You'll need to explain why you think the home is unsuitable. Make sure you include any evidence you have to support your refusal.
Evidence could include things like a letter from a doctor or a consultant about a health condition that means the home you've been offered is unsuitable.
Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you're not sure what to write in your letter.
Check if the offer can be reviewed
It's worth checking to see if the allocation scheme says you can ask for the suitability of the offer to be reviewed. If you can ask for a review, you should do this - make sure you follow the rules in the scheme.
Complaining about the council or housing association
If you're not happy with your local council or housing association's response, or if you think they haven't followed the allocation scheme rules properly, you can complain. Find out more about complaining about the council.
If you're complaining about a housing association, you'll need to follow their complaints procedure. If you're not happy with their reply, you can ask the housing ombudsman to look at your complaint.
Accepting an offer if you think the home is unsuitable
It might be better for you to accept the home you've been offered - it could be your only chance to get one. Refusing could also make your situation worse, for example if your local council reduces your points or removes you from their priority list.
Even if you're offered another property later on there's no guarantee it'll be more suitable than the one you've refused.
Get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you're not sure whether to accept an offer if you think the home is unsuitable.