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, I am a single mum with 4 children(19,16,14 and 1years old).I live in 3 bedroom flat temporary accommodation provided by Kensington and Chelsea Council.My social worker,women trust organization and me asked them to move my family because I went through the domestic violence from my ex partner.The council offer me an accommodation on Monday in Neasden area which I refused to take,because I had good reasons not accept this.First of all it is 5 bedroom flat and rent cost more than if it be 3 bedroom flat.I am looking for work at the moment and when I find the job I have to pay some of the rent money from my own pocket.I do not want to pay more money which I should.Secondly in short time of period I am sure that they are going ask us to move to smaller accommodation because this flat is too big for my family and this no good situation for me eather,because as I told you that I am single mum and I do not have no one who can help me to move.But the main reason my little son who has got SEN provided by statement

A.

If you have a cogent and compelling reason not to accept the accommodation then you are at liberty to reject it.
You appear to be worried about the rent. Certainly if the rent is not affordable then that would be a good reason to refuse the accommodation but you must (a) check what the rent is, & (b) check what housing benefits you would be eligible to receive.
The point you make about possibly having to move again is not a very good reason to refuse the accommodation.
Finally you mention that one of your children is SEN. Does he attend a specific school and are you worried about him having to move schools? If that is the case you would have to show that his needs were so great that it would be impossible to move him to a similar school close to the new accommodation.
You do, of course, have to be very cautious about rejecting accommodation offered to you by a local authority. They may say that your rejection of the offer is unreasonable and then they will say they have discharged their duties towards you and that could mean you are homeless.
Sometimes it is best to accept the offered accommodation and then ask the local authority to review their decision to offer it to you.
A much safer option I think.
I do hope matters turn out well for you.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I am a single mother of one aged 2 and a half I am also expecting my second child. However I have been living in a hostel for 5 months but am finding it very difficult at the moment as I've been diagnosed with depression I have been so stressed out that I have anxiety attacks and my child's behaviour has changed he's constantly crying doesn't sleep and crys when I pick him up from the childminders not wanting to go home,I my self cannot sleep at night.. I have a note from my doctor I also have a not of concern from my manager as a result of all of this it is now effecting my work and I have a note from my child's childminder saying that he hasn't been he's self and has become quite naughty all since I've been in the hostel. Should I not be entitled to somewhere to live taking all of this into consideration?

A.

Obviously you need to get in touch with the Local Authority Homeless families unit.
You need to point out all the difficulties you are having and alert them to the fact that you are now pregnant and expecting your 2nd child.
It would assist if you brought with you medical evidence setting out the full extent of your medical difficulties. I do wish you luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I am a single mother of a two year old and I am currently pregnant. I live with my step parent and was asked to leave last year January in which I contacted my local council for assistance. Due to me being under 24 I was put on a scheme to prevent homelessness for young people which the contract states after 12 months I will be offered a property. It has now been 7 months after I was meant to be offered a property and I am now being told due to the lack of available housing I am looking at a further two years. The house I am living in is also overcrowded, legally is there anything I can do? I have a contract signed by the council and myself but they have proved very unhelpful telling my only option other than waiting is to go in a hostel. But that was the whole point of the scheme to prevent this from occurring. Many thanks in advance.

A.

Local Authorities respond to those in the gravest situations.
Currently you have somewhere to live - a lot of applicants are street homeless.
If your step-parent were to evict you then you may well have more priority but the Homeless persons unit might well respond by putting you into a hostel as temporary accommodation.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello only dads, would i be allowed to mutual exchange my 2 bed housing assc house for a 3 bed house,if my 3 children ,boy 16,boy 13,girl 7,which have overnight stays of between 2 & 12 nights a month. I only have parental responsibility of my girl,& she can not share with the boys.Or do i have to have 50/50 custody of at least 1 child or a 4th child ? many thanks in advance

A.

Actually I don't think it really depends on custody but more whether your housing association and the other landlord (housing association or council) would allow you to do such a mutual exchange considering all the circumstances and their own policies. If I was you I would just ask both landlords what their likely response would be. They might be more concerned that you can afford the rental price difference?

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I have applied to the council for housing as I'm 34 weeks pregnant and staying in my sisters one bedroom flat with her and her boyfriend. My health visitor said the condition my sister and her partner have there flat in is not good forbmy baby's health so I cannot bring my child back here.. She has sent a letter to the council explaining her worries and concerns. Will this help? And will the council help house me?

A.

Hiya

If your sister insists that you have to leave (and a letter would help) then you would be statutorily homeless and in automatic priority need because of your pregnancy. As long as you are not caught by immigration control (that would make you 'ineligible' for assistance) then the local council would have a legal duty to house you. Be warned that there is no guarantee about the quality of any temporary accommodation or how long you might have to wait before you get permanent accommodation whether social housing or private rented.

Ask the local CAB and/or Shelter for advice as well.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I am 65 years old and on state pension I have lived in my council home for 30 years my wife passed away five years ago and my son has been living here over 7 years ,he cares for me when certain things need doing ,he is only doing part time work of 4 hours and receives no unemployment benefit as he refuses to subject his self to what he considers to be demeaning ,so I support him as best I can ,he wants to be placed on the rent book in case anything should happen to me ,he considers this his home and wants to remain here ,can I apply to the council to do this legally .

A.


It depends on whether or not you and your late wife were joine tenants. If you were, then when she died, you succeeded as the survivor and that counts as the only statutory succession. But the council may have their own discretionary succession rules that allows anothe rsuccession possibly to your son.

If you were the sole tenant then your wife's death doesn not mean that there has been a succession so when you die your son should succeed you.

Alternatively you could ask the council if they will allow your son to become a joint tenant with you. They don't have to allow this.

Check out by asking your local CAB and ask your council what their view would be. Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi there, I am single mum and I have a 5 weeks old baby, and we are currently leaving in a lower ground floor. And my baby had an allergy of Molds and humidity,and I am struggling also with the pram to bring it up and down there's no left and because I had unplanned C-section.I give a notice to my landlord that I'm moving but she refused me because i just leaving their for 6 months. And she said that I cannot break the contract us it fixed for one year, and the contract will be end next February 2016. What I should do?I need any help pls.

A.

Sadly if the agreement is for a year you would not be in a position to leave earlier unless there were a break clause. If you did leave early the landlord could sue you for the balance of the rent that you would owe until the conclusion of the agreement.
I am also concerned about you leaving the property voluntarily. If you are looking for Local Authority housing they may regard you as intentionally homeless if you simply walk-out without the landlord having obtained a possession Order. That could result in their refusing to assist you.
If there is disrepair at the property you should report this to the landlord and also the local Environmental Health Officer.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Am a single mother and ex partner left me 5 years ago, he's never stayed in the property that was given to us by the council and we did get a joint tenancy agreement. I do pay the rent and my son helps me with paying the bills. my ex partner has never paid a single bill ortowards my rent and he went to remarry after he walked out on me. I do get phone calls and letters through the post from debt collectors and other companies asking after my ex partner. I have been down to my council housing office and asked them to rremove my ex partner from the tenancy agreement and they weren't that helpful. Is there a way I can get the council to remove my ex partner from the tenancy agreement since he doesn't live here and get my son onto the tenancy agreement since he helps me with paying the bills and towards rent as well at times? Any sort of advice is welcome.

A.

Hiya

You are not alone - your situation is very common. Basically if the council wants to be helpful, they could advise you that if either you or your ex gives the council a proper Notice to Quit this would end the WHOLE joint tenancy. BUT you need a rock-solid guarantee that they would then sign you up with a new tenancy - whether it be a SOLE tenancy in your name alone or a new jOINT tenancy with you and your son.

You could also seek to have the tenancy vested in your via the Family law Act 1996 s.53 and Schedule 7 via an application to the county court. You may need a solicitor to help you with this or a good adviser from CAB and/or a law centre and/or any local housing advice service. On the basis of the facts you have stated I think any judge would be likely to agree to converting your joint tenancy into a sole tenancy.

You could also ask for a credit reference check from the main 3 credit reference agencies (Experian / Equifax and Call-credit) to see if your ex's name is still listed at your address -
Callcredit, PO Box 491, Leeds, LS3 1WZ www.callcredit.plc.uk

Experian, PO Box 8000, Nottingham, NG1 5GX www.experian.co.uk

Equifax PLC, PO Box 3001, Glasgow, G81 2DT www.equifax.co.uk

If one disagrees with any of the information stored by these companies then a notice of dispute, followed by a notice of correction. If there is information about people in household (i.e. family of partner) with whom non-shared financial arrangements, then one can financially disassociate from them by a notice of disassociation.

Good luck with this

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I am so confused and not sure what to do with my situations. I am currently 3 months pregnant and I am alone . My ex boyfriend refused to responsible and all my families abroad. I am also student and stay in the private rent accomodation. I haven't told my landlady which live upstairs that I am pregnant. I am scare if told her then she will want me to Ieave and I have nowhere to live. I can't afford any studio or anything. I am working part time 20 hours per week but that only to cover rent. I am not sure where to go and should I applied for council house now ? But how about if they turn me down ? Also, the room where I stay now is too crowded and impossible to bring my baby at there. I also want to apply visa for mum to be able to come to UK to company me during the labour because I have no one. Do you know what I will need to apply visa ? Also, I am not sure where my mum will stay ... The room will be too crowded for me, the baby and my mum. Please help ....

A.

I think you must focus on your housing. Not your mother & father.
Apply immediately to the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit as you are likely to have a priority need for accommodation. The Council are likely to house you and your baby.
They will not rehouse your family. If there comes a time when your family wish to visit you they could apply in the normal way for a visitors visa. I do wish you luck and hope all goes well.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I am a single mum living with 2 non dependants, I rent a council property and pay full rent, would I be able to share my tenancy agreement with my 22 yr old son, if of course he was in agreement with this?

A.

Hiya

Simple answer is YES but you need council's permission and would involve them agreeing to you ending your sole tenancy and a new joint tenancy with your son being created. Most councils would probably not allow a cross-generational joint tenancy such as this and/or will probably ask you why you want to do this?

If the reason for the 'switch' is to try and take advantage of some benefit be very careful as this might be seen as 'contrivance' which is akin to fraud.

Ask your council what their policy is about such a 'switch'.

Good luck

Richard Paris