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 mother of 3, and currently i am in temporary accommodation/emergency accommodation from the council, I've been here since november and the council has decided i can move on now and they have found a 3 bed room flat for me. the flat seems fine however the kitchen is open with the living room and on the living room end is one door to the balcony. apart from that there are no other windows or air ventilation systems. this is a worry especially because of the kitchen as it will cause the house to become mouldy due to the damp that vapor from cooking food or just simply from boiling a kettle for tea. one of my children and myself, suffers from allergies and eczema and mould is not only dangerous for everyone but its is especially dangerous for those suffering from conditions such as eczema, asthma, allergies etc. I've been trying to tell the council that the flat is not suitable as it will put our healths at risk but they keep arguing back that to them the flat is deemed suitable.

A.

Hiya
Very difficult situation. Be very careful about turning down this offer as they council MIGHT say they 'have discharged their homelessness duty'! Ask the council how many offers you might get - is this the only one? Get your doctor to write a letter confirming what you say about the particular impact this flat would have on your and your children's health.

Ask the CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre for advice and do it immediately.If this is your only/last offer then most would advise to take it and then challenge it's suitability? Read s.193(7) Housing Act 1996.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

IM 8 MONTH PREGNANT I HAVE 4 YOUNG CHILDREN BETWEEN 3-10YRS. IVE BEEN EVICTED AS MY PRIVATE LANDLORD WANTS TO SELL. IVE BEEN TRYING TO GET HELP FROM THE COUNCIL THEY I DONE EVERYTHING THEY ASKED BUT THEY DONT SEE ME AS A PRIORIT. THEY SAY ON THE DAY IM BEING EVICGTED MY DUE DATE I WILL BE PUT IN SOME TYPE OF LOTTERY SCHEME AND THEY WILL FIND ME A PROPERTY THAT DAY!! I CANT BE IN A POSITION IN LABOUR. CAN YOU ADVISE MY BEST OPTION.

A.

As a mother with young children you are in a priority category and the local authority Homeless Persons unit owe you a duty of care once you are, in fact, homeless.
I'm guessing that your landlord has probably got an Order for possession but he has not yet enforced that by using Court Bailiffs. Until you have the date of the actual eviction the homeless Persons unit maybe a bit slow to act. You should keep on going to visit them.
You will need all the obvious things such as proof of identity, birth-certificates for your children, tenancy agreements etc etc. Do rest assured that you will be put into temporary accommodation.
Do keep on visiting the Homeless Persons unit.

I do wish you luck.

Rusell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, ive been a single mom for the past nine months since shortly after my son was born. My sons father left me, and now has shown up again and wants to work things out with me. He has no job at the moment as he just became a Permanent resident and is now going to start looking for work. The problem is, hes been coming around for the past month and i did not notify my welfare worker right away, my daughter accidentally did over the phone to her.. so now it kind of makes things look a little bad on my part, so she is sending a family support worker over to my place. Not sure if this means they will investigate me, or if its just to now start his child support payments. I am also on subsidized housing, and not sure if i should be informing housing that hes been coming around, because he has spent some nights here with me... i feel so confused.

A.

Obviously if you start living full-time with your former partner and father of your child then you will have a duty to disclose this. There is, however, a lot of difference between the occasional visit and full-time living together. I do not know how many nights in the average week he is spending in your home. If it is more than 4 then that in itself might be regarded as more than "casual" visits.

Sometimes it is simply best and more prudent to tell the truth. Certainly do inform Housing Benefits and any other relevant benefits agencies.


Best of luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

my son is currently at an assessment centre and has been for 3 months, learning to care for his daughter who was in care due to neglect by her mother. Next week is the 5 day final hearing and social services are saying they would rather the baby was adopted. For months my son has been trying to find accommodation but the local council wont help and he cant get rented without a guarantor which we don't have. if he has nowhere to live by Friday, he probably wont get the baby and she will be adopted. I have tried every avenue I can think of but cant find anything. should the social worker be helping? Please help we are desperate

A.

Hiya

Sorry couldn't reply before - been out of country.

Your predicament is very difficult to advise on - but the social worker may not be the best advocate if social services want the baby adopted! Has your son got his own family / children / housing lawyer or any other advocate. They would be best placed to argue for resources and possible housing. The council do not HAVE to provide your son and his child with housing - but there maybe local housing providers who could help?

Call the council housing advice service to see what exists locally and try SHELTER and/or the CAB and/or a law centre if there is one.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I am not a single parent but I do have a problem which you may be able to help with, I can't find the information anywhere and a scared to ask my Housing Association. My partner and I have been in our 2 bed Housing Association flat for 9 years. While sorting out some paper work I found my tenancy agreement which says 'no more than 3 people are allowed to live here', we had a second child 5 years ago and now I am worried that if they find out they could end our tenancy because we have 4 people in it. We can't afford to private rent anything. Are we breaking our tenancy agreement? And can they evict us over it?

A.

I would not worry too much. I have been dealing with Possession actions for over 38 years and I have never heard of a tenant being evicted for having too many children. You are not overcrowding your accommodation as in a 2 bedroom flat you are allowed technically to sleep 6 people bfore it is categorised as overcrowded. I think it best not to worry. I doubt very much whether you landlord will do anything about your children.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello I am hoping you can help. I joined my housing list in July 2014, I am in the second highest band (band 2) for homeless prevention. I had a home visit when I applied to join the list and was informed the wait would be 6-9 months. I live with my grandmother and my 3 year old son. I have bidding on the choice based letting system every week for the past year. I have now started placing first at the end of the bidding period. However, every Monday the council add 'manual bids' as senior management agreed that this would be done in certain 'individual circumstances' - Is this allowed? I feel it will be impossible to ever truly be first as bids are placed once bidding has closed and people are constantly put infant of me. Additionally, when I joined the list I was mis-led and told the wait would be 6-9 months and the letter implies 12 weeks. If I had known it would be longer I would not have stayed here as my grandmother wants me out. 

A.

Obviously if your grandmother were to evict you then you would be homeless and have a lot more points. Further you would then qualify for temporary accommodation as you have a young child and are in priority need. The problem is that temporary accommodation does not have to be as good as permanent accommodation; it may be a long way from where you are. You may NOT want to be evicted as you may be acting as a carer for your grandmother. I cannot comment upon whether manual bids are allowed as I would need to see the written allocations policy. You should ask to see this and check they can do this. If they are cheating you should raise this with your local Councillor or mp.

Best of luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello I am hoping you can help. I joined my housing list in July 2014, I am in the second highest band (band 2) for homeless prevention. I had a home visit when I applied to join the list and was informed the wait would be 6-9 months. I live with my grandmother and my 3 year old son. I have bidding on the choice based letting system every week for the past year. I have now started placing first at the end of the bidding period. However, every Monday the council add 'manual bids' as senior management agreed that this would be done in certain 'individual circumstances' - Is this allowed? I feel it will be impossible to ever truly be first as bids are placed once bidding has closed and people are constantly put infant of me. Additionally, when I joined the list I was mis-led and told the wait would be 6-9 months and the letter implies 12 weeks. If I had known it would be longer I would not have stayed here as my grandmother wants me out. 

A.

Obviously if your grandmother were to evict you then you would be homeless and have a lot more points. Further you would then qualify for temporary accommodation as you have a young child and are in priority need. The problem is that temporary accommodation does not have to be as good as permanent accommodation; it may be a long way from where you are. You may NOT want to be evicted as you may be acting as a carer for your grandmother. I cannot comment upon whether manual bids are allowed as I would need to see the written allocations policy. You should ask to see this and check they can do this. If they are cheating you should raise this with your local Councillor or mp.

Best of luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I am living in temp acc in a hostel with my 1 year old daughter and im currently pregnant. I have been on the council list for nearly a year now. how long can they keep me in this hostel, and can I get moved to somewhere more suitable while I wait for settled acc.

A.

That seems very unfair.
Living in a hostel is very difficult and having to raise 2 children in a hostel will be very problematic indeed. Having been in a hostel for over a year you should challenge this. Perhaps a local law centre or CAB would write a letter on your behalf. Do talk to your local Councillor and your MP both of whom will be able to help you. I do wish you luck for the future.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I have a very complex problem here, which I hope you can
help with. I am a single parent with no family support at all. I have
a history of depression due to being ostracised by family years ago
for having my first son. At times, in the past, my depression had
been so bad that I actually asked to be admitted to hospital as I
felt suicidal. I also have an abusive, violent sister who has been in
touch recently via facebook to tell me my mother hates me etc. and
that she will come and find me to attack me. This has actually
increased my anxiety levels and my sleep is suffering too. I am
seeing a counsellor to help with these issues. I have two sons, one
is 24 and the other one is 3 years old. My big son used to live with
me, but because he wanted his own privacy etc. and wanted the little
one to have his own room. he moved out, he sometimes stays with me
with a couple of nights a week, but has no fixed address. I need him
to live with me for support as he is my only family, but there is no
room.

A.

This is very difficult.
I am assuming that you live in a local authority 2 bedroom flat.
They will not be keen to move you to a 3 bedroom flat and I doubt they will do so.
Even if your older son became your registered carer (& that would be a big ask), I doubt they will be in any hurry to rehouse you, not only because they may take the view that this is not a priority but also because there is a very real shortage of 3 bedroomed accommodation.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Dear Sir, I have been living at my mother's house for over 4 years, she has now decided to move back to our home country. I would like to know if I will be rehoused by the council? Or what will happen as I have a 9 year old daughter. For the past 4 years it has been me paying the rent and all bills. I'm worried as to what will happen?

A.

If your mother gives up her property you will be homeless. With a 9 year old daughter the Local Authority will have to rehouse you as you will be in priority need. You should liase with the Homeless Persons Unit at the Town Hall as soon as possible.
Good Luck!

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher