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Challenging the council’s decision about your housing application

This advice applies to Wales

If you applied directly to a housing association

You’ll need to follow the housing association’s review process.
Check their website or call them to find out how to ask for a review.

If you think the council got their decision wrong about your social housing application you should challenge it by asking for a review.

For example, you could ask for a review if:

  • the council says you can’t be put on their waiting list for social housing
  • you think you should be given a higher priority for social housing

If you can show that the council was wrong they could change their decision.

You should have been sent a letter or email showing the council’s decision about your housing application. Check the deadline in your decision letter from the council to find out when you’ll need to ask for a review by.

If you don’t understand the council’s decision or need help asking them to review it contact your nearest Citizens Advice. Make sure you bring any letters the council has sent you about your housing application.

The council says you're not 'eligible' for social housing because of your immigration status

You might not be able to apply for social housing if your immigration status means you aren’t ‘eligible’.

This includes if:

  • you’re seeking asylum or you’ve been told you can’t stay in the UK
  • you have ‘no recourse to public funds’
  • you’re a British citizen but you're not ‘habitually resident’ in the UK

If your immigration status has changed since your application and you think you should be added to the waiting list, it’s usually best to start a new housing application

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help with your immigration status - they could refer you to an immigration specialist to get more help.

Check your council's allocation scheme

Your local council will have its own rules on who can apply and who has priority for homes - this is called an ‘allocation scheme’.

It’s important to check the rules to make sure the council got their decision wrong before you ask for a review - you can usually find them on your council’s website.

If you can’t find the rules, email the council and ask them to send you the link.

Find your local council’s website on GOV.UK - you’ll need to know your postcode.

Asking for a review

You might need to write a letter or email to your council to ask for a review - sometimes you’ll need to go to an interview.

Check the rules on their website to find out what you need to do - email them to ask if you can’t find the information online.

If you need to write a letter or email, give as much detail as possible about why you think the council should change their decision.

It’s best to have evidence to support your request for a review. This could be a letter from a doctor or support worker. Some councils need you to send evidence with your letter - others will ask you to come for an interview and bring evidence with you.

The council says they won’t put you on their waiting list

It’s important to check your council’s allocation scheme to make sure you qualify to go on their waiting list before you ask for a review. If you don’t qualify the council won’t add you unless your circumstances change.

You’ll need to explain why you think you should be added to the council’s waiting list. If anything has changed since your application, mention anything new that would make you more likely to get on the list.

What you'll need to put in your letter or explain at the interview will depend on why you're asking for a review.

If the council says you don't have a local connection

Some councils need you to have a ‘local connection’ to be put on their waiting list. This usually means you’ll need to have been living in the area for a certain period of time or have family living nearby.

Check the council’s rules about local connections - you should be able to find this on their website.

If you can’t find the rules on the website email the council and ask them to send you a link.

Explain in your letter why you think you meet their local connection requirements - give as much detail as possible.

If you have any evidence include it with your letter to the council or show it to them if you go to an interview.

You could include:

  • bills and tenancy agreements - to show how long you’ve been living in your area
  • bills and tenancy agreements for close family members - to show they live in the area
  • a letter from your employer or your employment contract - to show you work in the area

If the council says you have rent arrears or other debts

Some councils won’t put you on their waiting list if you have ‘rent arrears’ - this is money you owe because you’ve fallen behind with your rent payments. They might also refuse to put you on the waiting list if you have other debts, for example housing benefit overpayments.

The council could change their decision if you can prove you’re making arrangements to pay back what you owe. You should also explain if there was a good reason for why you got into rent arrears, for example because of health reasons.

Check if you could make an agreement to repay your arrears. This will normally involve paying back what you owe over a longer period of time.

If you can make a repayment agreement you should include evidence of it with your letter to the council or show it to them if you go to an interview.

If the council says you have a history of unacceptable or anti-social behaviour

Some councils won’t put you on their waiting list if you have a history of unacceptable or anti-social behaviour, or if you’ve broken the rules in a tenancy agreement.

If you don’t think it was your fault or you’ve sorted out any problems, you should explain this in your letter.

This council could change their decision if:

  • the person involved in the problems doesn’t live with you any more

If you have any evidence to prove this you should include it with your letter to the council or show it to them if you go to an interview.

You think you should be put in a higher priority band or given more points

When the council adds you to the waiting list you’ll usually be given points or a priority band. The points or band you’re given depends on how urgently the council thinks you need housing.

It’s important to check your council’s allocation scheme to check if you were given the right priority before you ask for a review.

If you think you haven’t been given enough points or you’ve been put in the wrong housing band, you should explain why in your letter.

If the council hasn’t understood your health or disability circumstances

You should be given priority on the housing waiting list if you need to move because of medical or welfare needs.

Check your council’s rules to see what priority you should have been given because of your health or disability needs.

If you think you think you should have been given a different priority but the council hasn’t taken your needs into account ask your doctor or support worker to write a letter explaining why.

Include this with your letter or email to the council, or show it to them if you go to an interview.

Your current home is overcrowded

You should be given a priority on the waiting list if there are too many people in the home you live in now - this is called ‘overcrowding’. If the council left out members of your household when making their decision they might not think you have a priority for housing.

Check the council’s rules about overcrowding - you should be able to find this on their website. Call the council and ask them to explain their rules if you can’t find them online.

Explain in your letter why you think your circumstances mean you’re living in overcrowded conditions - give as much detail as possible about who lives in your home.

If you have any evidence include it with your letter to the council or show it to them if you go to an interview. For example, birth certificates or benefits statements to show who is living with you.

If the council says you have rent arrears or other debts

Some councils won’t give you a priority on the waiting list if you have ‘rent arrears’ - this is money you owe because you’ve fallen behind with your rent payments. They might also refuse to give you a priority if you have other debts, for example housing benefit overpayments.

The council could change their decision if you can prove you’re making arrangements to pay back what you owe. You should also explain if there was a good reason for why you got into rent arrears, for example because of health reasons.

Check if you could make an agreement to repay your arrears. This will normally involve paying back what you owe over a longer period of time.

If you can make a repayment agreement you should include evidence of it with your letter to the council or show it to them if you go to an interview.

If you're sending a letter to ask for a review

If you’re including evidence make sure you send copies and not original documents.

Ask for free proof of postage from the post office when you send your letter.

If you’re close to the deadline it’s worth calling the council to tell them you’re planning to ask for a review. Ask if you can email your request or take in your letter by hand.

After the council gets your letter they might ask you to go to come in for an interview with a housing officer. Make sure you bring any evidence you have to support your request for a review.

Getting the council’s decision

It can take a while for the council to review their decision. It’s worth checking other housing options while you’re waiting.

If they won’t change their decision you should contact your local Citizens Advice for more help.

You can re-apply to be put on the housing list if your circumstances change.

Complaining about the council

If you still aren’t happy with the council’s decision after the review you can complain.

You can complain about the council if:

Check how to complain about the council on GOV.UK.

If you live in Wales you should complain to the Welsh Public Services Ombudsman.

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