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.

Hello my situation is me and my wife and child r homeless now.my wife is pregnant now and my son will go his first school from september.i contacted council and they want we should move b&b accommodation from another area Crawley. But I living my area worthing last 8-9 years.i cant go like this to leave my area.there have my local connection and I admitted my child this area and also my wife have all relatives and midwife hospital here.and where they want to send those area is very unknown for us.and r8 now we r sharing some space with friends. Living very miserable life.Dr told me.that my wife should sleep in bed otherwise she get back pain. I told council plz give me temporary accommodation. But they said they can't help anymore now.what should I do now?

A.

This is a very difficult situation. The problem you have I suspect is that you were offered temporary accommodation by the Council and you declined to accept it.

The Council will now be saying that they have discharged their duties of care towards you and your family. Crawley may be a long way off but at least it is accommodation. I really do think you are now in a situation where you urgently need to see a solicitor. You may well be entitled to Public Funding (Legal Aid) and a lawyer may be able to assist you in your negotiations with the Council.

I do wish you luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I left my birmingham city property 1 year ago to go private but now i havd rats in private rented property will i be able to get rehoused with birmingham city council i have two children

A.

Having rats is really horrid but the thing to do is to ensure your landlord gets rid of them.

If he does not you will need to report the matter to the local Environmental Health Officer who is normally based close to or in the Town Hall.

Having rats does not make you homeless. You still have a roof over your head and if you just move out you may be in breach of the contract you have signed with your landlord and the local authority may be very reluctant to rehouse you.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I am 8 months pregnant and currently rent from a private landlord. I am going to be a single parent and have already been on the waiting list for 1 year, the council have told me they won't change my  priority until they se a birth certificate. I can afford to pay my rent til the end of my tenancy with my maternity pay in 5 motnths but I cannot afford to stay and extend my contract and I won't be able to afford to go back to work and pay for childcare. My land lord wont want me to stay if I go on benefits. What are my options.

A.

Make an appointment with the council's housing options team and explain your situation to them. They have a duty to prevent homelessness and should try and persuade your private landlord that being on benefit (Local Housing Allowance) to pay the rent should mean the landlord has nothing to worry about when your maternity pay runs out.

If all else fails and your landlord starts possession proceedings just because you are not working and have a child then the council would have to re-house you. Make sure you pay the rent and do not break any other terms of your tenancy. But depending on the local council you may have to live in temporary accommodation for a long time although your priority on the waiting list should go up.

Ask the council what your options are. Also try the local CAB and/or Shelter and/or any housing advice in your area.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi there, i am currently in a sticky situation a year ago i was told i made myself intentionally homeless due to rent arrears. I have been living at my mothers ever since with my two children one aged 5 and the other 9 months.the property is a two bedroom and there are also two other siblings whom live here. my mum now wants me out only due to there being no space, but i wanted to know what my options where.

 

A.

You could make a fresh application to your local Homeless persons unit on the basis that there has been a change of circumstances. You should visit them armed with a letter from your mother stating that you can no longer carry on living in her accommodation as it is overcrowded.

The Homeless persons unit may still go back to your previous tenancy where there were rent arrears but they may look at your position afresh. Fingers crossed.

If your application is again rejected you may wish to take legal advice as to whether you can review their decision. A lot will depend on why the rent arrears accrued and your own financial circumstances.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi there, I am single mother with 14y. daughter, I am a Private tenant by my council, in this flat I am 3years and 1m, My landlord wants to sale his flat and I have notice to leave the flat first week/May. I told my council and they say I have to wait letter from court, possession came with form, I was worried to much and I made an appointment with my council, we didn't fill the defence form to ask court for more time I don't know why but they told me everything is normal and you will stay in your flat and wait for other letter, week ago the letter came and I am still here, letter say I must leave this flat beginning of this August and I have to pay to my landlord court cost 280GBR. I don't know do I really need to pay this money to him, as I didn't sign anything about that and when I ask him for reference he told me you have debt, can this money be debt? Council wait for eviction letter and for me is not normal, I don't understood when they not have place for me why we didn't ask the court for

 

A.

The Council are quite correctly waiting to rehouse you until such time as you have received a Possession Order from the Court. Now you have that you should return to the Council Offices with that Order for Possession and ask them to rehouse you.

As to the costs if you do not have the money you will not have to pay. The landlord does not have a legal obligation to give you a reference. If the Council do not rehouse you you should lodge a complaint with them and see a solicitor local to where you are living who can apply pressure to the Council and assist with your rehousing.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

 i have just arrived in the uk from abroad and am homeless with a 15 year old daughter. I am currently staying with different relatives on the sofa. How do I get housing to get stability for us? and get her back into the school system.

A.

A lot will depend on where you were living abroad. Did you give up accommodation which you could have continued living in? If so the Local Authority may say that you are intentionally homeless.

As a first step you should visit your local Homeless Persons unit. Make an application. To do so you will need original proof of identity for both you and your daughter. You will have to produce full details of where you have been living abroad and why you chose to come to the UK. The form is quite a long one and there will be many questions to answer but this is the way to start.

I wish you luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I live in a council flat with my husband who is the main tenant so it is not a joint tenancy. He wants to divorce me. I don't know what happens after the divorce - do I have to move out and how quickly? I will be grateful for your reply.

A.

I would imagine that once you are divorced you would want to move out anyway.

Nevertheless he cannot force you to leave and if there are children you could go to Court and seek a transfer of the tenancy into your name.

Even without children you could seek to do that but the Court will be less willing to accede to such a request although if there are compelling health issues they may be more sympathetic.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

After becoming homeless and spending 15 weeks in a b and b the council have given me temporary accommodation its in 7 kings I have lived in tower Hamlets all my life and it is too far to get my child to school and away from family and friends also cost a fortune in train fares is there anything I can do or am I stuck here

A.

You can ask for a review of the decision to house you in Seven Kings. Attached to that review should be detailed information about your trip to work, exactly how long it takes and the cost to you of the travel. That should be compared to the time and costs when you lived in Tower Hamlets.

As to your child if she is in Primary school you could of course choose to move her to a similar school in 7 kings? If there is a good reason for keeping your child in school in Tower Hamlets that should be explained. Finally there is the question of your support network of family and friends.

You should give full details of all of these. Names, addresses and their relationship to you. Also why it would be difficult for them to visit you in 7 Kings.

I do wish you luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I write on behalf of my brother who is struggling to cope since the death of his wife 4 years ago and 6 months later the death of our mum. My brother has two now 7 years old twin boys. I spend most of my time staying with my brother to help support and care for the boys. The problem is I need to sleep on the couch. In your expert opinion would the council re house my brother to enable me move in full time. We are a small family with no support available except from myself. My brother us a shy man and will not speak up and I do nit understand the procedures. I have mortgaged property which nosy cause a problem, I think. Any advice/support or to point in right direction would be most appreciated.

A.

It is very hard for me to advise properly - if you are in Scotland their law is different from England so I think your best bet is to get some good face-to-face advice from the CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre.

Much depends on who your brother's landlord is (assuming he rents?) and whether your mortgage would stop you being able to becoming a joint tenant with your brother and/or taking over his tenancy. Again I do not know enough to know whether he would be re-housed on his own - I think it would be unlikely?

Go with your brother to the agencies above and maybe also the council's housing advice service (in England all councils must have a free housing advice service) and see what they advise.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I am a single mother of 2 children. My council previously housed us temporarily a few years back and made an offer to me of  permanent accomodation which I appealed as not being suitable at all. I  was in housing arrears as my partner at the time would take my tent money
 and spend it. I was in a relationship that would be classed as financially and emotionally abusive. I was given notice of eviction and due to all the stress I left and went to live at my Mums. The house is now very over crowded and we are not getting on with my siblings. We now have to leave my Mums in a few weeks and have nowhere to go. If I go to my local council again they will say that I've made myself intentionally homeless but this is not the case.

A.

Is the council fully aware of why you had not paid the rent whilst in temporary accommodation - did you get any support from your GP / social services or any other support organisation at that time?

I suggest you talk to someone from womens' aid http://www.womensaid.org.uk/ or phone 0800 2000 247 about your current situation - they should be able to advise you which local agency may be able to help. I would also try and get some face-to-face advice from CAB and/or a law centre about your options - make an appointment, take all the paperwork and see what they advise?

Good luck

Richard Paris