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.

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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 there, I'm a single dad of 2. We've been together for 5 years now. In that time I've been privately renting. Last September landlord issued me notice (he had to sell to pay for care for his mother) and I took till 8th Jan 2016 for me to be evicted. My local council have put us all in a hostel. Been here 9weeks now, my housing officer emailed me last week saying that they have a 2 bed temporary flat come available and will ring me to arrange a viewing. When the call came, I got offered a 1 bed flat, as the 2 bed flat got allocated to an emergency? Even though they have said I'm an emergency. Unfortunately my emotions got the better of me and I was angry down the phone to my housing officer,and refused the offer. Can they really put me in a 1 bed flat even a temporary one, as I've a 10 year old daughter and a 14 year old son

A.

This all sounds very unfortunate.
Technically you would not be overcrowding a 1 bedroom flat as only 5 people would be "overcrowding", Certainly not 3.
Nevertheless local authorities have a duty to get families out of B&B after 6 weeks and I suspect they will be looking to find you other accommodation very shortly.
I do hope they do not regard your refusal to view the 1 bedroom flat as a discharge of their duties towards you.
Perhaps it would be a good idea to arrange a meeting with your Homeless Persons Unit as soon as possible to ascertain exactly what their position is.
Was the offer of the 1 bedroom flat merely an informal offer?
If they have not made you another offer of a flat very shortly you should be going to see a solicitor who can challenge the fact that the Local Authority have broken clear Government guidance on the length of time they can house you in a hostel.
Good luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I was given a notice to quit from Richmond UPon Thames Borough Feb 2015 for Housing act 1995 section 193(7). Childrens services has been providing accomodation since. The duty from childrens services will cease in 8weeks. I have tried making a fresh application which housing act 1996 section 193(9) says I am lawfully able to do so. Richmond Upon Thames council will not accept an application from me, they will not give me any written communication stating they don't have a duty, and they have not assessed my duty. I also believe the section they released me under is incorrect as I was not offered any property, to refuse and that is not what was stated in any previous corresponence between myself and them. For welfare reasons I need to stay in the area. According to the housing act the council does have a duty to provide housing and also to accept a fresh application. Please help if you can

A.

You can, and I suspect must, make a fresh application.
You should stress any fresh circumstances that have arisen since your original application.
Make them accept the application and if they refuse to accept the application you may need to instruct a Legal Aid Lawyer to help you with this.
I do hope all goes well.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I'm a single mum with an 11 month old boy, I'm currently living in a refuge following domestic abuse. I was originally born and raised in Reading but moved to London for a while when I turned 21, anyway I moved into the refuge in September and have been here since then. I have mine and my sons things in storage which has so far cost me nearly £1000 and extra expenses has had to be made since being here. I am bidding but its only recently they changed my banding from an E to a C firstly is that good? And secondly my depression is going from bad to worse as I feel like I'm not going to get anywhere as every time it says I'm over 20 please help me understand what I should do as I'm starting to loose hope.

A.

Obviously you must continue bidding.
It goes without saying that the best properties attract the most bids!
You should ask to see a copy of the Local Authorities Allocations Policy. This will be on-line and you should be able to see whether your band is a good one or not.
The more medical evidence you can obtain the better.
If you can get letters from medical professionals, social workers and others this will increase your chances.
I do wish you luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I'm a single dad with 2 children aged 8 and 11 my landlord has given me notice 2 leave my property by 02/04/2016 I called my council(Ealing) and they have advised my to wait for the bailiffs to arrive but I also have health issues which tell me to keep away at all costs and this will make situation a lot worse also when they do make a desicion they will probably put me in emergency accommodation and I don't think my health will take I work full time and take care of my children full time. Please help if you can. Many thanks

A.

Hiya

I disagree with your council's advice - 28 days before you have to leave your current home you are legally 'threatened with homelessness' s.175(4) Housing Act 1996 and the Code of Guidance also states that potential homeless applicants should not necessarily have to wait for the bailiffs to come to evict.

Some councils would call such advice 'preventing homelessness' - I think they are 'gatekeeping' and delaying the inevitable. If you want read up some precedent cases use a search engine for a case called R-v-Newham LBC ex p Ugbo 1994 High Court and paragraph 8.32 of the Homelessness Code of Guidance.

If the council just wait until you actually present as homeless, then you are correct to be concerned that they will just place you in temporary accommodation that might not be 'suitable' for your needs. They should be planning re-housing in advance.

I strongly suggest you get an urgent face-to-face appointment with the local law centre and/or CAB and/or Shelter to discuss your case. They can advocate on your behalf and are more likely to get the council to fulfill their legal duties propery.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I recently moved out of my home of 14yrs with my ex partner and 3 children, unfortunately I was not on the tenancy much to my dismay but anyway. When I moved out my ex partner an alcoholic ended up neglecting my children so badly that social services got involved and my children had to go and live with family and friends. She has since stopped drinking but social services have said we have to share custody of the kids as they are not happy to have the kids solely living with there mother. I currently live in a shared house with a family member where I obviously have no room to have my kids on a shared custody basis, I am privately renting and work full time self employed. Will the council help me get housed or will I have to find private rented accommodation? The social services will provide me with a letter explaining the circumstances.

A.

Hiya

It is very hard to be precise about what housing could do - I am also not sure that social services can insist you have shared custody. They would probably want that outcome but it would be for a family court ultimately to decide what is best for the children?

You don't say how old or what sex the childen are? You don't say whether or not you were/are married?

Although social services can support any application for rehousing, it probably will not of itself guarantee that housing can help you?

Best thing is to gather all the written information and make an appointment with the council's free housing advice service and go and talk to them about your options? A lot depends on which local authority and housing associations operate in your area and how much pressure there is on social housing in terms of supply and demand?

There is a not very helpful case called Holmes-Moorhouse-v-LB Richmond upon Thames 4/2/2009 House of Lords - It was held that despite the father having a shared residence order from the family court, his 4 children did not necessarily have to reside with him, could live with their mother & he could not claim priority need accordingly.
www.lawreports.co.uk/WLRD/2009/HLPC/Feb0.1.html
You may want to read through this case as it is likely the local authority will also know they don't have to help!

Also check out your local CAB and/or Shelter and/or any other indendent advice service about your options?

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi, i have recently split up from my husband after 11 years. We have a 3 children age 7 and 5 years and 9 months old baby. I have fallen behind 3 months rent, November, December and January but now getting back on my feet and Paid February. My Landlord has send me a written notice to move out by 1st april due to rent areas but now changed her mind and want me out on the 1st of March, so in two weeks. I have lived here for nearly 3 years and never missed rent previously. What can i do? I cant afford to find new place in two weeks, where i need to pay upfront rent along with deposit? But i cant be on the streets with 3 kids. What are my rights? Do i have any

A.

Hiya

Make an appointment with the local council's housing options team. Part of their role is to prevent homelessness so they may try and get your landlord to drop the possession case if all the circumstances are resolved.

Without knowing more I suspect your landlord cannot legally require you to vacate by 1st March rather than 1st April BUT depends on when first s.21 notice was given?

Take all paperwork with you and see what council say? Ultimately the council will have to house you as statutorily homeless under Part 7 Housing Act 1996 - be careful about any talk about 'intentionally homeless'?

Check out local CAB and/or Shelter and/or law centre.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I fled my home due to domestic violence I have been in a refuge for the last 7 months i applied to a council of my choice and have been accepted however they have put me emergency accommodation, a hotel with no cooking or food storage facilities I have a 22 month old daughter. I'd like to know my rights with this situation and how I can work towards a more stable environment for my family.

A.

Hi ,
I am sorry to hear of your difficulties.
The Government has said on repeated occasions that Homeless people with children should not be put in Hotel accommodation for more than 6 weeks.
I would strongly advise that you seek out a Legal Aid solicitor who can put pressure to bear on the Local Authority and threaten them with Court Proceedings if they do not move you and your child.
Best of luck!

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello, i moved with my son to London from Germany due to relationship problems including abuse. I have been here for the past 5months and have been moving from couch to Couch with my son and dont know how i should go about the process of aquiring a proper accomodation for me and my son. Since i dont have a permanent address i cant seem to even register for a GP for check ups since i am currently pregnant. can you please advise? Kind regards,

A.

Hi there,
You could try to register with the Local Authority as a homeless person.
As a victim of Domestic Abuse they should offer you temporary accommodation.
Best to apply to the Local authority where you have spent the most time and where you have the closest links.
I do sincerely hope you get help.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I have 3 children 14,11,7. I recently got evicted from a private rented house that was found for me by domestic violence team I was living with. Reason for eviction the landlord wanted more money I couldn't afford that not working. Housing be rows paying the landlord directly. I started working part time the housing benefit claim they wrote me for more information which I didn't receive. The payments wer stopped which I was unaware. The landlord didn't tell me made the rent payment raise to a substantial amount. With that she took me to court for unpaid rent which gave me 14 days to leave the premises. Since which I have been staying at my neighbours home. As we have no family income the area we leave as I fled DV. Council won't help. They said I made myself intentially homeless. I need to leave my neighbours home n I don't know what to do... Please help me.

A.

Complicated case - you need good face-to-face legal advice about your situation. I don't know enough detail to be able to advise you fully.

Find out if there is a law centre or solicitor in your home town that deals with homelessness and the 'intentionality' decision plus what is the view of Children Services and your childrens' schools to your situation?

Maybe start with the local CAB and/or Shelter for advice about finding a good local advocate. Maybe just maybe the council haven't been as helpful as they could have been? especially so as you re a survivor of domestic violence - what is the current view of the DV team?

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I am a single parent I have 2 children I am in temporary 3 bed room accommodation for 3 years they boy and girl once my kids where born I have been going to the local council to add their name to my application they keep losing my documents so my housing officer told me not to bid because I am still down has a single person however when my kids was 3 last September they finally updated my documents and in November they offer me a final offer of a permanent property however the property was a 2 bedroom which I don't mind but they are 2 single room converted from a 1bedroom flat I have been living at my address for years I have all my furniture. So the rooms are 2 small also due to medical reason previous issue related to similar flat I was advice by my doctor it's not suitable she wrote a letter which they turn down saying they will discharged me of their council duties I will have 28 days to find another accommodation also my mp is involved so what else can I do please

A.

Hiya

If the council has lost your documents that doesn't bode well for their efficiency! BUT be very careful - if the council believes the final offer of permanent accommodation is 'suitable' then turning it down might end their duty towards you! If the property was offered in November 2015 you mght be 'out-of-time' to appeal the final offer - see if the council will accept an appeal out of time - best advice is to take the offer and then appeal!

You need good face-to-face advice about this - find the local law centre and/or Shelter and/or a local solicitor who can advise you about the best course of action - but act quickly. I am not sure that the small size of the accommodation would be sufficient for a successful appeal.

Good luck

Richard Paris