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.

I have been accepted as having a duty by Sutton council after fleeing domestic violence in Wandsworth I have 2 children under 10 have been placed in a b&b in Feltham I have no connection to the area and for the first night I couldn't stay as I had no money, I'm have just stopped working due to depression and I am waiting for my benefits to start up I have put in a request for review but I have a feeling I won't get a good answer as my reasons are based on the fact my sons school is a 2hour journey away and I don't think they will consider that what can I do?

A.

Hiya

Have you received a written Housing Act 1996 s.184 notice from Sutton council accepting a full s.193 duty - this will tell you that they have accepted the full duty as you are homeless, eligible, in priority need, not intentionally homeless and have a local connection?

If so you can challenge the 'suitability' of your accommodation via s.202 - the council should have told you this with your s.184 notice. The location of the accommodation, it's distance from your childrens' school and the fact it is a bed and breakfast (which since 2004 councils are not allowed to use as temporary accomodation for those with children unless it is an emergency and even then for no more than 6 weeks maximum).

I suggest you get an advocate from a law centre, CAB, Shelter or an advice agency plus supporting letters from your GP, consultant, the school and anyone else and go back to the council with a carefully crafted s.202 review request about the non-suitability of your accommodation in Feltham. The lead case if you or your advisers want to quote to the council is

Nzolameso-v-Westminster City Council : Supreme Court 17 March 2015 (reasons 2 April 2015)
Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi, I am a single mum with 3 boys, aged 9,7 and 2, The landlord gave me a 2 months notice of eviction which expired. The landlord informed me 2 days ago that he will present the case to the court. I am so worried and anxious... Could you please answer to these questions: 1. I Live in HARROW and I work part time, do you know how long it will take the whole process until I must leave the property? 2. Do you know if the council will offer me hostel/temporary accommodation outside Harrow/london? It is a nightmare as plus all the stress I have to deal with loooking alone after 3 children as their father left over 2 years ago and he does not offer any help.... I have this housing problem. I am reallylooking forward to your answers Ms Hajar Rezki

A.

Hiya
It is very hard to be precise in terms of how long the eviction process will take. Don't leave before the landlord gets a possession order and then gets a bailiff with a warrant to repossess the home - could be 4-8 weeks but depends on whether landlord has already began proceedings, is using the 'accelerated' possession route etc.

Make an appointment ASAP with Harrow council's housing options team, take all the paperwork with you (birth certificates, wage slips, tenancy agreement, the s.21 notice from your landlord, bank statements proving rent payments etc.)

The council has a legal duty to offer you appropriate advice and assistance and will talk through the options. Ultimately they will probably have to provide you with temporary accommodation but I don't know what kind - ask them what they use?

28 days before the actual eviction date you will legally 'threatened with homelessness' and the council should no longer insist you reamin and wait for the bailiff

They should be planning ahead with you and not waiting until the last minute.

Also see if you can get some face-to-face advice from the CAB, Shelter, a law centre or another advice agency about what they think your options might be/

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Please can you give me some guidance on the following issue. My wife and I divorced and my 14 year old daughter remained with her mum. This changed in February this year as her mother had moved in with a new partner and after a few months of living there with the new partner my daughters relationship with her mother broke down and she came to reside with me full time. I was living with a new partner and her child however I am not on the tenancy agreement and the property is rented through social housing. Since my daughter has joined us the relationship between my partner and I has significantly deteriorated predominantly because of the friction between the 2 girls. Clearly my partner is very unhappy that her daughter is unhappy. I am on a low income and have no savings. I receive 7 pounds per week in child maintenance and my partner and I receive child tax and working tax credits. I am in receipt of child benefit for my daughter. I need your assistance as to how to look in to housing for my daughter and I.

A.


You would require a Residence Order from the Court before any Local Authority would assist you.
Whether the mother of your daughter would agree to that I do not know; simply saying that your daughter was living with you will not necessarily make the Council give you accommodation or put you in a priority category.
To get a Residence Order is not entirely straight forward and you should make an app't to see a Family Law Solicitor.
Legal Aid may be available.
Good luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Dear Russell I hope you can help with some advice My son has just been housed by the council in a one bed apartment. He has Muscular Sclerosis and is housed with disability in mind. He has a son who does not live with him, however the child's mother has now become homeless after being evicted from the council accommodation for non payment of rent. She has just been told the council will not be rehousing her and have also from what I been told evicted her from the temporary accomodation they provided for her whilst they were making there decision. My son is willing to have his 6 year old move in with him but not sure if it is acceptable to live in one bedroom and the council need to provide 2 bedroom for his potential new circumstances. He is planning on taking legal custody for his son. Can you advise on this scenario at all Kind Regards Mark

A.

Obviously your son can have his son live with him if he wishes. I bedroom flat can easily be converted into sleeping accommodation for 2 by purchase of a sofa bed.
The Council will probably be slow to rehouse him into a 2 bedroom flat as technically, even with his son living with him, he is not overcrowding the premises.
The Council will rehouse him in due course I expect but he could be waiting for quite a long time.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I am a single mum, two sons, 23yrs (Severely affected by
Autism and totally dependent on others, I am main carer supported by
paid carers, financed by a personal health budget)and 18yrs (just
finishing A levels and about to leave school. I seperated from
husband in Feb/March 2012, finally divorced in May 2013. Living with
sons in the old family home. Ex husband has paid maintenance for
youngest child until couple of months ago when as an out of work
contractor he stopped paying himself from his own limited company. We
had an finance agreement he put together but he asked for no
solicitors as was a waste of money that wouldn't benefit our sons. I
verbally agreed. Now youngest is 18, after evicting him from the
house one afternoon when he was here doing DIY and I came home to
find him drunk....he seems to be retracting what we had agreed, that
we would both put the equity of current family home in trust for the
sake of our sons

A.

Hello and thanks for your enquiry.
Firstly it is of essence that you and your sons remain in the matrimonial home and sign nothing without the benefit of Legal Advice.
Secondly this is a complex - largely matrimonial matter - and you do need advice from a solicitor acting for you despite what your ex has to say about that.
I am a housing solicitor and not really able to advise you on this matter.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I m a single parent living in London. 70% of my salary goes to rent. I was trying to apply for social housing through my local council. But I m not eligible as to be able to apply I need to be living in the same borough for at least 5 years ( I live for 3 years). Do you know if the same rules apply to all councils? Any other suggestion for more affordable rent. I m willing to move outside London. Thank you

A.

Many councils have changed their rules about 'eligibility' to join their register (for social housing). There is no consistency - you need to find out which councils have 'residency requirements' - like 2 / 3 / 5 or even 10 years. Check their websites for information. Basically the further out of London and the South East you go the more likely it will be there maybe no or low residency checks?

Some areas still have hard-to-let and effectively no 'residency' requirements - tend to be in areas of low demand - you would have to do the checks yourself or ask anyone else who lives in social housing away from London.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hello I need help/advice I'm 34+3 weeks pregnant I also have a 15month old son & a dog I'm a single mother & I have 3 weeks 5days to be out my house due to the landlord selling I have a housing officer from my local council but he doesn't seem to contact me back or give me much hope just says they will wait till the day I become homeless before they can do anything is there anything else I can do as I'm getting so stressed thinking I could have my baby anytime from now & I might end up having baby same time I have to try move & not knowing where to go what are my rights ?? 

A.

You do not need to leave your home just because the landlord is selling the property.
You only need to move once the landlord has given you Notice to quit, obtained an Order for Possession from the County Court and finally obtained a Bailiffs warrant from the Court.
If none of that has happened the process could easily take many months.
That is probably why the Council are currently not in as hurry to assist you.
Perhaps you should have a word with your landlord and explain that unless he gives you notice and goes down the Court route you will be unable to leave.
I do wish you luck and hope everything pans out well for you.


Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Mothers with two kids 8and12 separated 1month's ago.Homeleles by cuncil(housing aid) Never work in UK.we live here 10 years.social service want send me back to poand but I wan't stay Because its difficult change school for kids.No longer stay in friend's house.Ready for work (Looking).Any help with house for us.

A.

Hello.
Thanks for your question.
I expect the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit are trying to say that as you have never worked here and are not applying for jobs they do not owe you a duty of care and they are suggesting you return to Poland.
This is a complex matter and the law is even more complex.
I am sure you will be entitled to Legal Aid and you should contact a firm of solicitors local to you that deal with housing matters so that they may challenge the Local Authorities decision on your behalf.
It is very important that you deal with this very swiftly as there may be timelimits to comply with.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I currently private rent with my hubs and but we have separated he's moved out, landlord wants to sell been to court baliffis are coming 24 May local council have found me another private rent home but the rent is £900 per mth yes I get housing benefit but I really can't afford the top up council are saying this is my offer I have to take it! But I no I will end up in rent arrears etc I'm up to my eyes in debt so if I don't take it I will be intentionally homeless with 4 children can u offer an advise

A.

Thanks for your question.
This is a problem but you have to deal with it by accepting the offer of accommodation that has been made. Housing Benefits may not cover all the rent. But you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment and that may deal with the balance. I know this means filling in yet another form which is boring but it may get the whole of your rent paid.
You should also check that you are receiving all the benefits that you may be entitled to.
Large numbers of benefits claimants do not get everything they may be entitled to claim. You should go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau and ask them to check what you are receiving and whether there are any other benefits you may be entitled to receive.
I do wish you luck and hope that you are happy in your new home.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, My son was born on the 14/01/15 and once he was born we moved to the uk for a new start from ireland. I used to be cabin crew and my friend who was a pilot had a house in SE77LN that he was not in as he was travelling until summer of 2016 and he offered us his house. I have now got a job in north greenwich earning 1200 a month i do not claim tax credits or any help except child benefit. He is now moving back and has given us until the end of the month to move out i have no savings and no idea what to do for housing. I receive no money for my son as the father disappeared. Who should i ask for help?

A.

You need to make an appointment ASAP with the local council's (from the postcode it looks like Greenwich?) housing option team and go to them with all the documentation and explain the circumstances.

They have a legal duty to try and prevent your homelessness which involves exploring with you where you could live on your income and in your circumstances.

Utlimately if your friend/landlord wants his house back then the council would either have to house you themselves or find an alternative - you would be homeless and in priority need becaue of your son.

Good luck

Richard Paris