Russell Conway
Housing Expert

Russell is the senior partner at respected London law firm Oliver Fisher 

Russell's advanced expertise in Commercial and Residential Landlord and Tenant matters has led to his involvement in Leasehold Valuation Tribunal, Court of Appeal and House of Lords cases. Worthy of particular mention is the ground breaking case of Ghaidan v Godin-Mendoza in 2004 which radically changed the law not only in relation to succession to tenancy but with regard to Human Rights generally

Russell is also a member of the Law Society Housing Committee and the Law Society Access to Justice Committee and regularly writes for the Solicitor's Journal



Richard Paris
Housing Expert

Richard Paris has an MA from Queens' College, Cambridge & a post-graduate Diploma in Housing from LSE. From 1991-93 he was senior research officer at LSE Housing.

He has worked for both statutory & voluntary organisations with people experiencing drug & alcohol problems, mental health difficulties, with young offenders & with those leaving care. This work involved 'street' level prevention, networking & advocacy. He has also worked for short-life & supported housing agencies, mainstream housing associations & local authorities.

Since 1990 he has been a free-lance housing law specialist undertaking educational training, consultancy and policy and procedure health checks.

He is also an associate consultant for National Housing Federation, LJM, Michael Guest Associates, ISLE Ltd and JKA Associates.

Question
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The latest ten questions are displayed below. Use the drop-down menu below to search for other questions and answers.

Q.

Hi my names Rebecca i have been living in my one bed council flat with my 9 month old daughter for 9 months in discusting damp conditions wall papers peeling off my ceilings are turning black we are over crowded on the 7th floor of a high rise lifts breaking all the time balcony is infested with pigeons and pigeon faeces my daughter was hospitalised from bronchilitis on the 29/10 my health visitor had told me to seek help immediately as my living conditions are not doing my daughter ma health any good get chest hasn't cleared and Iv wen waiting nerly 7 months to be rehoused I really need some help is there any advice you could give me I'm currently band b but feel like making my self homeless as living conditions are terrible making me depressed

A.

Try and get a strong advocate - CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre. Get them to take photos of your flat and assemble the evidence from your health visitor / GP and anyone else. There is an argument that 'it is not reasonable for you to continue to occupy' and hence you could present as homeless BUT it depends on the view of the housing options team and how bad conditions are for others!

Make an appointment with housing options and take the evidence and your advocate with you and see what the council says!

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

how long could i be in emergency accomodation.Ive been in a one bed flat with three children for the past three years, two boys and one girl. Despite being over crowded ive been put well over an hour a way from my boys schools, however we have endeavoured to make the journey to and from school since being here. I have previously had problems with domestic violence from my previous oartner (he went to prison for 72 days because of it). what id like to know is, do the council have a duty to house me closer to my support network ie my mother as i am a vulnerable person with regards to dv.

A.

You should try and get an advocate to argue your case. If you can get a support worker they can try and argue that your current accommodation is not 'suitablr' for you and your children - not only because it is too small but also it's location. Surely this is having a negative impact on your children?

What help have you had from the police/victim support? Try and get your children's school and GP to back up your argument. What are the council going to do longer term about your housing - where are you on the register and what 'banding'/priority have you got? Start with Women's Aid - the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children or phone them 0800 2000 247 and get the local advisors.

Richard Paris

Q.

hi . i hwas old to leave my council house by my husband nearly a year ago, i left even though we have a joint tenancy, because i feared him making a scene with the neighbours. i dont mind being away as i have made a new life for myself. but now the council are asking me to give up my
 tenancy. i am reluctant to do this because i have read that by doing so it will end the tenancy copletely and my husband will be told to leave the property and i do not wish this to happen to him, so i have refused to do this. my question is, can the council force me to end it or can i remain
 on it thankyou

A.

You are correct if either joint tenant ends their tenancy properly, it ends the whole joint tenancy. BUT If you do not wish to give up the joint tenancy, the council cannot force you to do so. This might be 'oppression' a complicated legal term. Read the McCann-v-UK case from the European Court of Human Rights to see how this works. BUT

 You will remain a joint tenant with your husband and hence liable/responsible for any rent arrears / breach of tenancy. Maybe make an appointment to see a family solicitor about your options - divorce / deed of separation etc. Also ask CAB and/or a law centre for their views.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi my name is shelica I have 2 children a boy aged 3 and a girl aged 5, Barking and Dagenham have made me intentionally homeless this happened about 5 months ago I've been staying with family but they can no longer let me and my children stay! I've contacted charity in hope for
some help but no luck, please could you give me some advice on how sort this out because any day now me and my kids will end up on the streets. Please help me

A.

Hard to advise without knowing more about why you were found to be intentionally homeless?

I suggest you make an appointment with Children Services as they probably have a duty under s.17 Children Act 1989 towards your children. They should arrange temporary accommodation whilst they decide what the longer term solutions might be. They cannot allow children to be street homeless. Check out with CAB and/or Shelter and/or the law centre what other options you have? Try and get your children's school onside and your own GP and any other professional.

Good luck

Richard Paris

 

Q.

hi im writing on behalf of my daughter who is a single parent to a 20 month old girl,who was in rented accommodation. she wrote to her landlady asking if she could evict her so she could get a council place nearer her family as its takes an hour and half by bus, she then relised she made a terrible mistake and changed her mind. after this the landlady deceiced she wanted her out an she was selling the house and took her to court saying the house was a mess. the council have now made a decietion that they will not rehouse them because of the messages she sent even though that was not the reason she has been made homeless please can you help

A.

The fact is that if the landlord has obtained an Order for possession you will be homeless, in priority need and the local authority will have to house you.

Get a written decision from the local authority and, if it is negative, go to a local lawyer to appeal it.

 Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I'm a victim of domestic violence and have been for 14 years last year was the last time I took a beating from this man and my children have witnessed this every time I prosecuted him and he served 4 and a half months custodial sentence sine this I hve been to my housing association to try and get moved provided them with a marac letter a report from my safe team work and Idva this was declined and they put me in the lowest band after some months I was informed how to appeal I contacted my mp they can't do anything I have a non molestation order and am currently trying to get it amended at the momment as my ex partner is living some what a mere 50 meters from my home he constantly follows me and my children shouts out the window at them and just stares at us I live in an estate and the children and my self are very frightened and anxious I can't seemed to be taken seriously by my housing association the next time he comes I could well end up dead I don't know where to turn my circumstances

A.

This is appalling.

The local authority Homeless Persons dep't must be made to assist you. You should be moved a long way away from this man who is clearly very dangerous. I would certainly advise that you present as homeless. Insist the local authority give you a written decision and, if it is negative, get legal advice swiftly on how you can challenge that decision. When presenting as homeless do bring as m uch evidence of your domestic violence as possible as the local authority will wish to see this.

I do hope all goes well.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I left my joint tenancy two years ago due to my husbands behaviour towards me. The flat was given to us solely on the grounds of my medical condition (from the local authority.) I managed to secure a private tenancy from an old lady who has now passed away and I have to find somewhere else to live. Unfortunately, all the other properties are far too expensive to rent. I never wanted to leave my first flat but was forced to .. The council won't help because I still have a legal interest in the property I left as a joint tenant and I had to move out of their area due to rental cost. I'm at my wits end as if I go back to the flat I loved and was perfect for my medical needs ie significant heart problems, I will be bullied again. My specialist hospital and all my medical needs are dealt with in the area where my joint tenancy is situated and I have a long way to travel to them. I would be grateful for your advice. Thank you. (Resubmitted due to the addition of extra info)

A.

As one of two Joint Tenants you could give notice to quit the flat, and, if you do this after consulting with the Local Authority they may agree to rehouse you if you terminate your husbands tenancy.

Obviously a difficult step for you to take.

The only other alternative is to apply for a Tenancy Transfer Order in Divorce proceedings but there is no guarantee that would succeed as you have moved out and possibly the Court may take your husbands side.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I want to leave the family home with my two children as my husband will not- I hope to rent but am getting nowhere with agencies- also whilst I work I have child are costs and would not be able to afford everything that goes in having rent bills and children- is there a way to get housing whilst I am still on the mortgage? Thank you

A.

Very very difficult.

Obviously you should check with the local CAB the full extent of the benefits you might be entitled to if you were to rent privately and this may include some housing benefits but renting in the private sector is expensive.

If you simply walk out the local authority will not assist you unless you can show there has been domestic violence.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

My situation is a bit complicated. I am getting divorced and  my husband and I have a joint tenancy on our housing association property. My husband is severely disabled and the property is especially adapted for him. I have approached the HA and they say that they cannot help rehouse me as I will have to apply to the courts to come off the tenancy and then am intentionally making myself homeless. They also say that they have no obligation to rehouse me. The divorce is not my choice. I wanted to know if my husband can force me to leave the home as he is seen as the 'vulnerable' person. My children are grown up, son 22, and daughter of 18 at university, but they still live with us and need a home. I gave up my career to care for my husband and feel I am being left high and dry

A.

During the course of the divorce proceedings I anticipate that your husband will apply for a transfer of tenancy Order from the Court. He may well be successful but you will have the opportunity to put your case to the Court.

You might be in a better place to have the tenancy put in your name as if your husband had to leave (by order of the Court) he would then be in a better position than you to be rehoused by the Local authority by virtue of his disability. Be very wary about what you are asked to sign.Try to get some legal advice from a solicitor. Ultimately you may be able to get something from what is a difficult and sensitive situation.

Best of luck

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

hi im pregnant on joint tenancy partner envoked break clause but i have no where to go i need to stay can i get dss to cover the rent also is the break clause real as he sent it as email and i dnt agree .... landlord is stalling on section 21 need it to be classed as homeless what
do i do

A.

I am not sure about 'break' clause especially if you didn't agree. If you are both joint tenants, and if tenancy is fixed term (i.e. 6 months or more) and not periodic then I reckon needs both to agree.

But is tenancy is periodic (weekly/monthly) or began as fixed term and 'rolled' over at the to become periodic, then only one needs to terminate. But such a termination would end whole joint tenancy. See Supreme Court case Sims-v-Dacorum BC on 12 November 2014 at http://www.hardwicke.co.uk/insights/newsletters/michael-sims-v-dacorum-borough-council--24-01-13 If there is a so-called break clause in tenancy that he has invoked (probably a month's notice) then you will be 'threatened with homelessness' within that period.

The local council should be trying to prevent your homelessness so should be trying to get your landlord to enable you to stay and maybe 'fast-track' the HB so your landlord can be assured the rent is being paid. Make an appointment with housing options at your local council and take all the paperwork with you.

Maybe also check out with local CAB and/or a law centre and/or Shelter.

Good luck

Richard Paris