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 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

Q.

Hi I'm 22yr old young mum of a 18month old girl and I will be homeless from tomorrow! PLEAE can u help or tell me where to go I need somewhere to live I'm on benefits thanks

A.

You must urgently visit the Local Homeless persons Unit which is usually attached to the Town Hall or situated close by.You appear to be from Dagenham and they would owe you a duty of care as you fall within a priority category as you have a 18month old child.

As long as you have not made yourself homeless for no good reason the Local Authority should be finding temporary accommodation for you immediately.

In the very first instance (but not for longer than 6 weeks) this may be bed& breakfast accommodation but you should take them up on anything they offer as to refuse accommodation is a big mistake and the local authority may regard you as having other sources of accommodation in the background.

I do hope you get appropriate accommodation.

Good luck.

Russell Oliver

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I wounder if you can give me some help . I am a single dad living in a 1 bed flat with my 17 year old daughter and have done for the last 3  years. I sleep on a fishing bed in the front room as my daughter has the bedroom . The flat is a converted house wich is not very big . The bedroom is in the loft but with no doors seperating the stairs to the front room.  I have been on herts councel list for the hole of this time but thay say we are not a prioraty, i have had a stent put in cos of ill helth, and sometimes suffer with high blood presher and astmer.the councal have aworded me medical points but say i can only apply for aground floor flat and am being passed over all other options even thow i get in potion 1. I steal need a normal life but feel im being discrimanted against cos of my conditon and sercomstances .

A.

Difficult to know how to advise? You say the council has given you 'medical' points because of your condition but what about the sharing with your 14 year old daughter and the fact you are having to sleep on a fishing bed in the front room and there is no privacy for you or her? Have they sent someone around to inspect and actually see the living conditions? If not, why not?

You need a strong advocate - try the local CAB and/or law centre and/or Shelter.

I would also make an appointment to see your local ward councillor and MP and explain the situation to them.

Finally make an appointment with housing advice and seperately housing options and ask them how you can more to more suitable accommodation? There is a long-shot argument that 'it is not reasonable for you to continue to occupy' your current accommodation and you should be treated as 'statutorily homeless' and rehoused. Long, long, long shot but possibly there is a breach ofr your Human Rights Article 8, 12, 14 - ask all the other agencies and the council what they think?

Good luck

 Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I currently live in a 2 bedroom house and have 2 boys age 12 and 18 months. I have applied for 3 bedroom house because my son is disabled and requires his own room due to him still being in nappies and needing support through the night. He is also violent so its not safe for
him to share with my youngest. My housing have recognised that he needs due to all the reports i have provided for his own bedroom but have refused a higher banding because they state my youngest son can share with me and my husband. Can they do this? this is really affecting our family life

A.

There arguments are flawed. Because of your eldest son's special needs he needs his own room - they have recognised that. How can your 18 month old be expected to share with your husband and yourself - breach of overcrowding law Housing Act 1985 Part 10. This states that a child under 12 months can be expected to share but not one of 18 months.

If this is how their banding works it is unlawful and you should challenge it. Make an appointment with your local ward councillor and MP and explain the situation to them. Ask your own landlord what you are supposed to do and get them (your housing officer, their manager, the head of operations, chief executive to advocate on your behalf.

Make an appointment with the local CAB and/or housing advice ans get them to advise and/or advocate. Go on-line for CAB and/or Shelter advise.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

hi I have to move before September when my daughters father is released from prison.... she is under child protection aswell, no local councils will accept us as we have no local connection, is there any other way of us moving as the only other places I could move to her dad nos
where we will be so cannot go there

A.

Is your daughter under child protection because of your daughter's father? If so there must have been a MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference) between all professionals involved which will be ongoing.

What is the advice from the specialist police officers who are keeping you informed of what is happening about your daughter's father's release date - what do they suggest your housing options are?

If your child is subject to a child protection order or has children/social services oversight, you should ask your social worker / support worker what you are supposed to do? What do they suggest your housing options are?

From what you say it sounds like you cannot remain living in your home town. Consequently the last option is to make a homeless application to any local authority where you fell you would both be safe. You do not have to have a local connection. The local authority you apply to to must make adequate enquiries into why you are homeless in their area and if that is because of a risk of violence from someone in a different area they CANNOT send you back there or suggest your lack of a local connection stops the first authority having a legal duty towards you.

Your social worker / support worker should know this and should either be advising you themselves or 'signposting / referring' you to an agency that does know how homelessness law works.

You need a good advocate - that could be your social worker / support worker. But if they are failing, then try an local specialist provider. Try the local CAB for generic advice as well - they should signpost /refer as well.

Try not to let time slip away such that you have to leave your current home quickly - it should be a planned move with support from all those other agencies.

Finally try Women's Aid - the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children.

Richard Paris