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.

My partner and I have split up I am sleeping in the spare room . We have a joint tenancy agreement but he won't leave and I won't leave as I have 2 large dogs, I moved from a 3 bedroom fully furnished to the present house he has lived with me on and off in previous house for 8 years 2010 he lived with his parents up until I moved in together last April can he get me out of this house as he has paid the deposit an fees?

A.

As you are joint tenants only the landlord can get an Order for possession which would be required in order to evict you.

If there has been no domestic violence the Local authority are unlikely to assist you and in any event being rehoused with  2 large dogs might represent a problem as local authority accommodation tends not to encourage pets.

If the relationship does deteriorate further you may wish to visit the local authority Homeless Persons unit to seek assistance but they may ask you to rehome your dogs before they are willing to assist you.

The good news is that your partner cannot simply chuck you out; he has no power to do so as, like you, he is only a joint tenant.

I do wish you luck in these very difficult times.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I have a 6 month shorthold tenancy agreement taken with my partener over 19 years ago. 5 months ago I Ieft with our 17 year old son to stay with my mum. I have continued to pay the rent and bills all in my name for the property whilst deciding what to do. I now wish to return to the property but my partener will not leave. I have been told that I can give notice to the landlord that will terminate the contract for both of us and she can reinstate me as the new tenant if she so wishes. Is this correct? Thankyou

A.

Sorry about delay - we have been away on holiday.

Yes if the tenancy is in your name alone, then you can give notice (check tenancy agreement for how much notice) and thereby end the tenancy. BUT there is no guarantee that your landlady will necessarily grant you a new tenancy. So I suggest you talk to your landlady / agent before you give notice about what their view would be and whether or not they will grant a new tenancy.

Unless you are married / in a civil partnership, it is difficult to know why your ex partner thinks they can stay in the rented home without having to pay rent and bills. If they are not your matrimonial partner / civil partner, then you could ask them to leave and thereby end their permission to remain. Only you know if this is possible?

Check out with local CAB and/or law centre and/or housing advice and/or family solicitor.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I am currently in social housing after splitting up with my husband. I have two children 17 and15yrs old. My eldest has decided to live with her father so I am now looking at reduced help and the bedroom tax which I cannot afford. If I am moved into a smaller property, will it  still be within a reasonable distance for my youngest's school? She is in her GCSE years and I cannot bear the thought of her losing out with a forced move. I do not drive and need to remain in my home town for my job

A.

Sorry about delay in replying but we have been on holiday.

Difficult to answer your question fully on the information you have provided. BUT here goes.

Your current landlord should be helping you with lots of advice about how to manage your changed circumstances, especially the 'bedroom-tax' impact. Have they talked to you about applying for a 'discretionary housing payment' (DHP) to give you time to explore transfer / mutual exchange options?

If you can get a DHP then you can look for a down-size either via a transfer and/or mutual exchange to an alternative home which would not impact on your younger daughter and job. Any chance of increasing your hours / pay to take you out of HB?

 Also seek independent advice from CAB and/or housing advice from local council.

 Good luck

Richard Paris

 

Q.

Hi i was put into temporary housing by my local council because our landlord wanted his property back and also bacause i made a complaint anout my partners abuse towards me. He was on bail conditions for 2 month but these have now been dropped. My partner is seeking medical help with his anger issues and i want him back in our famiky home. Will my council allow him into my temp accommodation or will they say no because they put me there because of eviction and his abuse?

A.

Sorry about delay but we have been away.

Strictly speaking the council cannot object to you asking your partner to share accommodation with you BUT. If you were placed in temporary accommodation because your previous landlord was selling that is the principal reason for your homelessness.

If you take your former partner back, then the secondary reason (fleeing domestic violence) becomes 'problematic'. Some councils and other agencies 'fearing' a repeat situation might ask questions of your decision to get your ex back into your family life.

Maybe seek independent advice about letting your ex back into your family life before you do so. Try the local CAB and/or law centre and/or Shelter and/or Womens' Aid.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

hi, i am in desperate need for adive. my relationship come to an end with my ex girlfriend which resulted in my taking the children due to the domestic violence towards me, her neglecting the children and her drug misuse. Myself and the children have been living with family since i left, but my ex remains in the house. i am currently going through court for full residence of the children. we are desperate to get our house back. All of mine and the childrens belongings are still in the house which my ex is in the process of selling. i contacted the police but there is nothing they can do. i also had a molestation order against her which she breached on many occasions but was yet again not arrested. I have made an application to the courts through my solicitor for an occupancy order. but its all taking too long. we share a tenency but now the housing benefit has been stopped so the rent is piling up, i have paid all rent arrears and all the bills since i left to ensure the house wasnt taken back by the council.

A.

I am a little confused in that you refer to your ex "selling" the home but at the same time you refer to housing benefits and paying rent.

Certainly if your ex has a property in her name you do need to get your lawyer to take certain legal steps to protect your position. It sounds as though you do have a lawyer and you should insist that he writes you a detailed letter of advice setting out how your position is being protected and what time-line you are looking at for developments to take place.

You should remember however that legal disputes of this type can take quite a while to resolve.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi there, I am a single parent of two sons aged 5 & 1. My 5 year old has SEN and is a danger not only to himself but to his younger brother. He has not yet been diagnosed but has a statement of educational needs. I am concerned as my youngest is coming up to the age where I have to move him from my room to share with his brother. The reasons for my concerns are that as I mentioned he is very dangerous and has no sense of what his doing he has bitten, kicked and many other things to his younger brother in front if me so I am so scared that putting them into the same room would result in something happening to my one year old. Would I be able to be moved to a three bedroom so that they are in separate rooms?

A.

You need a medical diagnosis and advice from a medical professional (in writing) that you require a 3 bedroom property.

Without that you will most likely be passed over for a 3 bedroom property.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I am 17 years old and I am 3 months pregnant, I was just wondering if the council would actually help me to get my own place? I am living at my mum and dads for the Moment but my dad is disabled and they do not agree with the pregnancy?

 

A.

Yes you should go immediately to the Homeless Persons Unit at your local Authority.

You should give them written proof of your pregnancy and also a letter from your parents saying you are no longer welcome to live at their address.

As you are in a priority category the Council will have to find you temporary accommodation and, in due course, (this will take a lot longer) permanent accommodation.

I do wish you luck and hope all goes well.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I have been a joint council tenant for 17 years although my husband whom I am separated from has never lived here apart from a couple of years. He moved out 3 years ago and now my council block is being knocked down. The council has instucted me that they have frozen my housing application and I cannot bid on a new property on the housing register unless I end the joint tenancy. I am worried that If I agree to this, I will lose my rights of compensation of £4,700 as I will be classed as a new tenant. Are the council allowed to force me to do this?

A.

Quite a few issues here.

(1) If you do get compensation as joint tenants you would only be entitled to half of it; (2)By terminating the joint tenancy (as you can) you should be entitled to full compensation and you should tell the local authority that any Notice to Quit which you serve terminating the Joint Tenancy is only served on the basis that you would be entitled to full compensation.

My guess is that the Local authority are more concerned about the Joint Tenancy and terminating it rather than the compensation which they will have to pay in any event.

Finally no-one can force you to terminate the Joint tenancy; it is choice to do so. The Council cannot make you.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

 Hi I'm a 44 yr old woman with a 16 year old daughter I spoilt  with my partner after a abusive relationship he was found guilty in court of assault he made me take out loans one which is secured on the property we have a mortgage on the mortgage n the loan are in both of our names I pay the loan he pays the mortgage I get no child maintenience n I get abusive messages saying he is not paying mortgage I work part time n would not be able to afford to pay both I was also attacked by a group of people  in my area n was off work sick for 5 months I received counselling but am afraid to go out in the area this is causing me anxiety I'm a witness in the court case shortly n I am afraid to stay at my home because of these people n my ex I have decided to put home up for sale I can't take the worry would I be accepted on the council housing list ?

A.

It will depend on a number of matters.

Firstly how much money will you receive from the sale of the property?

Secondly, have you considered getting an injunction to remove your partner from the matrimonial home?

Thirdly, does the property have to be sold? Remember it may well represent better and bigger accommodation than that you might receive from the Homeless Persons Unit at your local Town Hall.

Russell Oliver

Oliver Fisher

Q.

hi, i need some advice what i can do, i have been in a relationship with my current partner for 11 years, we have 1 child  together, and i have 2 teenagers from a previous relationship, i was living as a single parent untill 2 years ago when my partner asked me to move in, but since then our relationship has broken down, and im currently sleeping on the sofa, he wont move because hes lived in the house for 15 years, he works 16 hours a week, and i am in receipt of income support, which was reduced when i moved in, by the amount my now ex partner was earning, ie, he was earning the amount the law says we needed to live on as a couple, so therefore, any income i received for  myself was gone, and i continued to receive money for the children, however, my ex, said that what he earned was spoken for and paid out on bills, so i dont receive a penny of what he earns, in addition to that, i have had to pay him, £30 per week, aswell as buying the weekly grocery shopping for us all, and having to provide everything

A.

If your partner asks you to move out you would be homeless and in priority need and you may be entitled to local authority accommodation.

If the relationship has been abusive in any way then that would certainly assist you in getting a flat from the local housing authority.

If the relationship has simply"broken-down" then your options may be more limited.

As to your money it is entirely up to you how you allocate it; you do not need to give any money to your partner.

 Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher