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
Read our Panel of Experts terms & conditions.
I have read and agreed to the terms & conditions.
Please enter your email address
Where do you live? (name of town or city)
Contact number:
Would you like to receive our newsletter?

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

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

Q.

hi I fled my home in 2010 because of violence. I was housed by the council but due to be evicted because my ex partner told them I had a property in Nottm which is true but although its in my name it was my mothers property (now sold by her) I am due to leave my home in a few weeks. I have nowhere else to go with my 9 year old son. if I go to another council will they say I am intentionally homeless. If they do what can I do to break the chain. I did not want to leave my property and I did fight the case to the Court of Appeal but lost.

A.

A great deal will depend on the circumstances of the purchase and sale of the Nottingham property. Why was it put into your name? Was there a mortgage? Was the mortgage in your name? Did you ever live in that property?
Why was it sold? For how much? Who received the proceeds of sale.
The Council will require answers to all these questions and it is difficult to advise you fully until we know a lot more about the circumstances.
If you you can prove definitively that the Nottingham property was nothing to do with you then you may be able to challenge the Councils decision. Have you asked the Council to review their decision?
If not you should do so and Legal Aid is still available for such challenges if you are financially eleigible.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, Sadly me and my husband relationship is not going to last longer.Long-time I want to move out with my son and I went to advice bureau for advice because I don't know where to go and I am so scared for whatever decision and step I am taking in case this will affect my son and what type of places we will be accomodated.I heard from other single mums who live in these hostels that these places are quite depressed and I am thinking if I rent my own place a room will council be able to help me in my rent?

A.

I am sorry to hear of your difficulties.
If you move out simply because you and your husband are not getting on the Local Authority may say that you have made yourself intentionally homeless. If on the other hand there has been an abusive relationship or there has been domestic violence you would not be regarded as intentionally homeless.
I think you may wish to have a conversation with the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit before you make any decisions.
Visit them with evidence of ID, proof of childrens ages etc and as much evidence as you can muster in relation to the problems with your marriage.
Do not simply move out as that may bring you into a new band of problems.
Good luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi me and my wife were on joint tenancy on a 3 bed council property with a child, 7 days prior had a call from housing officer stating our joint tenancy will come to an end in 7 days time as the wife (who wants to leave me) has given her 4 weeks notice which i have been unaware of, i had told the housing officer that its news to me but he wouldn't give me much info, i had stated that i wish to stay in the property and the tenancy becoming on my sole name, which i had to write a letter to the manager still awaiting outcome.

A.

Sadly if your wife has given the landlord a Notice to Quit that terminates the tenancy whether you wish it to or not.This may seem terribly unfair but it is the law.
Any one of two joint tenants is able to terminate the tenancy.
I do hope the Council will rehouse you but there is no guarantee they will do so.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, my ex partner has moved into a 1 bedroom flat. He has my daughter all weekend twice a month. He shares his bed with her along with his other daughter. My daughter is 7 years of age and I worry that this will start to make her uncomfortable as she needs her own space/bedroom/bed etc. Is there a law regarding this?

A.

Is there not a sofa bed in the living-room?
Could they not use a camp-bed or blow-up bed in the other room?
Obviously contact with your ex-partner is a good thing for your daughter but you have parental control and if you think the sleeping arrangements are inappropriate you must tell him and decline further contact until such time as he resolves the situation.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

hello, i had a relationship breakdown and i move to my sisters for 5month and she ask me to move out because i was pregnant. i went to the council and was sent to a temporary accommodation and got a letter from the council that i made my self homeless so i should move back to my maritally home which i did. now we are divorce and am not on the tenancy . my ex husband has ask me when am i moving out. i have made application to the council in need to rehouse me and my two children . have not heard from them yet, am going to be bidding for a place or what? i need help on what to do.

A.

You should go to your local authority Homeless persons unit and explain the position in detail.
You must give them all the required proofs such as the Divorce documents and ID.
They do owe you and your children a duty of care and must put you in temporary accommodation and, eventually (although this may take some time) put you in permanent accommodation which is reasonably suitable to your needs.
You will need to keep approaching them and making sure that they are aware of your difficulties.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I wonder if you can help. I have a friend who has recently passed away. She has 4 young children and lives in a council property. Her ex partner has been living at her property, to look after the children, as she has not been able to do. He is not on the rent book and the relationship has been purely platonic. As she has now passed, he wonders what will happen to the children in terms of housing as he has NFA and this is their family home? Will he be eligible to take over the tenancy?

A.

A lot will depend on whether your friend had a will. If she did she may well have appointed a guardian in respect of the young children. If she does not have a will it maybe the case that the childrens father will wish to become involved with their care. The ex-partner can certainly make a claim to succeed to the tenancy but, if he had not been living with her as a spouse for a year before the death he is unlikely to be allowed to succeed to the tenancy. This is a complicated problem and should really be resolved by close family members such as parents. Otherwise social services may become involved as clearly the children will be everyones main concern

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

My girlfriend is pregnant and she currently rents a room in London, I live in Buckinghamshire. She wants to be closer to me and her family for physical and emotional support but her landlord is refusing to let her leave the house. What do I do?

A.

Obviously a great deal will depend on what sort of tenancy your girl-friend has. If it is, say a 3 year tenancy with no break-clause she may have a problem. However most tenancies will have a break clause. Alternatively if she originally had a 1 year tenancy and she is simply holding over from month to month she would only need to give a months notice and would then be in a position to leave.
Perhaps the bigger question is where would she go? If she leaves her current accommodation voluntarily she may be making herself intentionally homeless and in those circumstances a local authority would not then have a duty to rehouse her or the baby.
Finding accommodation privately can be very expensive.
The best advice I can give is for your girlfriend to attend her local Homeless persons unit and seek advice from them as to her way forward.
She should be very cautious about moving out however.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hey I'm a single mum of a one year old living in a mother and baby unit Iv been bidding for a year now and still havnt manage to view a flat ect I have 109 points and can only stay in a mother and baby init up to two years I'm only in a one bed flat and don't think it's fair me and my son are sharing the same small bedroom still, how long does it actually take when bidding it says priority but can't be if not got nowhere in last year ? When am I more likely to get a place!

A.

It is very difficult to answer your questions accurately as each council has it's register and banding/points system which gives people priority. Your best bet is to make an appointment with the council's register and/or housing options, take an advocate and ask them how many points you need to be in with a chance of bidding successfully for a flat/house?

Legally the council are supposed to be able to tell you how long it might be before you get re-housed. They might also suggest you look at the private rented sector - but a lot will depend on whether any accommodation is 'affordable' to you? Read Paragraph 4.33 of the Code of Guidance for councils and s166A(9) Housing Act 1996 which states allocation schemes must be framed so as to give applicants the right to request from housing authorities general information that will enable them to assess:
(a) how their application is likely to be treated under the scheme and, in particular, whether they are likely to have reasonable preference
(b) whether accommodation appropriate to their needs is likely to be made available and, if so, how long it is likely to be before such accommodation
becomes available.

Unfair though it may seem councils do not have to give you a 2 bedroom as overcrowding law counts other rooms apart from bedrooms in calculating whether someone is ot is not overcrowded!

Your real problem (along with lots of others) is the shortage of afforadable rented accommodation - a problem which is likely to get worse - sorry.

Good luck

Richard Paris