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
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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 there, I am single mum and I have a 5 weeks old baby, and we are currently leaving in a lower ground floor. And my baby had an allergy of Molds and humidity,and I am struggling also with the pram to bring it up and down there's no left and because I had unplanned C-section.I give a notice to my landlord that I'm moving but she refused me because i just leaving their for 6 months. And she said that I cannot break the contract us it fixed for one year, and the contract will be end next February 2016. What I should do?I need any help pls.

A.

Sadly if the agreement is for a year you would not be in a position to leave earlier unless there were a break clause. If you did leave early the landlord could sue you for the balance of the rent that you would owe until the conclusion of the agreement.
I am also concerned about you leaving the property voluntarily. If you are looking for Local Authority housing they may regard you as intentionally homeless if you simply walk-out without the landlord having obtained a possession Order. That could result in their refusing to assist you.
If there is disrepair at the property you should report this to the landlord and also the local Environmental Health Officer.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Am a single mother and ex partner left me 5 years ago, he's never stayed in the property that was given to us by the council and we did get a joint tenancy agreement. I do pay the rent and my son helps me with paying the bills. my ex partner has never paid a single bill ortowards my rent and he went to remarry after he walked out on me. I do get phone calls and letters through the post from debt collectors and other companies asking after my ex partner. I have been down to my council housing office and asked them to rremove my ex partner from the tenancy agreement and they weren't that helpful. Is there a way I can get the council to remove my ex partner from the tenancy agreement since he doesn't live here and get my son onto the tenancy agreement since he helps me with paying the bills and towards rent as well at times? Any sort of advice is welcome.

A.

Hiya

You are not alone - your situation is very common. Basically if the council wants to be helpful, they could advise you that if either you or your ex gives the council a proper Notice to Quit this would end the WHOLE joint tenancy. BUT you need a rock-solid guarantee that they would then sign you up with a new tenancy - whether it be a SOLE tenancy in your name alone or a new jOINT tenancy with you and your son.

You could also seek to have the tenancy vested in your via the Family law Act 1996 s.53 and Schedule 7 via an application to the county court. You may need a solicitor to help you with this or a good adviser from CAB and/or a law centre and/or any local housing advice service. On the basis of the facts you have stated I think any judge would be likely to agree to converting your joint tenancy into a sole tenancy.

You could also ask for a credit reference check from the main 3 credit reference agencies (Experian / Equifax and Call-credit) to see if your ex's name is still listed at your address -
Callcredit, PO Box 491, Leeds, LS3 1WZ www.callcredit.plc.uk

Experian, PO Box 8000, Nottingham, NG1 5GX www.experian.co.uk

Equifax PLC, PO Box 3001, Glasgow, G81 2DT www.equifax.co.uk

If one disagrees with any of the information stored by these companies then a notice of dispute, followed by a notice of correction. If there is information about people in household (i.e. family of partner) with whom non-shared financial arrangements, then one can financially disassociate from them by a notice of disassociation.

Good luck with this

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I am so confused and not sure what to do with my situations. I am currently 3 months pregnant and I am alone . My ex boyfriend refused to responsible and all my families abroad. I am also student and stay in the private rent accomodation. I haven't told my landlady which live upstairs that I am pregnant. I am scare if told her then she will want me to Ieave and I have nowhere to live. I can't afford any studio or anything. I am working part time 20 hours per week but that only to cover rent. I am not sure where to go and should I applied for council house now ? But how about if they turn me down ? Also, the room where I stay now is too crowded and impossible to bring my baby at there. I also want to apply visa for mum to be able to come to UK to company me during the labour because I have no one. Do you know what I will need to apply visa ? Also, I am not sure where my mum will stay ... The room will be too crowded for me, the baby and my mum. Please help ....

A.

I think you must focus on your housing. Not your mother & father.
Apply immediately to the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit as you are likely to have a priority need for accommodation. The Council are likely to house you and your baby.
They will not rehouse your family. If there comes a time when your family wish to visit you they could apply in the normal way for a visitors visa. I do wish you luck and hope all goes well.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I am a single mum living with 2 non dependants, I rent a council property and pay full rent, would I be able to share my tenancy agreement with my 22 yr old son, if of course he was in agreement with this?

A.

Hiya

Simple answer is YES but you need council's permission and would involve them agreeing to you ending your sole tenancy and a new joint tenancy with your son being created. Most councils would probably not allow a cross-generational joint tenancy such as this and/or will probably ask you why you want to do this?

If the reason for the 'switch' is to try and take advantage of some benefit be very careful as this might be seen as 'contrivance' which is akin to fraud.

Ask your council what their policy is about such a 'switch'.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I am a single mum living with 2 non dependants, I rent a council property and pay full rent, would I be able to share my tenancy agreement with my 22 yr old son, if of course he was in agreement with this?

A.

Simple answer is YES but you need council's permission and would involve them agreeing to you ending your sole tenancy and a new joint tenancy with your son being created. Most councils would probably not allow a cross-generational joint tenancy such as this and/or will probably ask you why you want to do this?

If the reason for the 'switch' is to try and take advantage of some benefit be very careful as this might be seen as 'contrivance' which is akin to fraud.

Ask your council what their policy is about such a 'switch'.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi My relationship has broken down and we have a house where we are both on the mortgage. i have 2 children aged 2 and 4 and want to remain in the property. My question is can i get help towards the mortgage payments as my partner has refused to pay. I work part time. Thanks

A.

Thanks for your enquiry about help with your mortgage payments.
1st you need to get advice from a matrimonial practitioner about whether you can get assistance from your husband as to payment of part of the mortgage if not all of it.
2nd you need to get advice from the CAB as to your benefits entitlements. You may be in a position to claim housing benefits which may assist you with the mortgage.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I'm single mum and I'm living in a studio flat all most a year. My baby she has 10 months and at this age she wants to walk and do all this things but she doesnt have space . I would like to know for how long I have to stay here? Do I have to wait until she has 2 years to move in a 1/2 bedroom?? Thanks

A.

You don't say whether you live in a social housing (council/housing association) flat or private rent? If it's social housing ask your landlord what their rules are abput 'qualifying' for a 2 bedroom. If private I gues you have to see if you can afford a new 2 bedroom flat?

There are few national laws about at what age a child should have their own bedroom (Overcrowding law doesn't really help because it includes habitable rooms). Check out with local CAB and/or Shelter.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi, I am a single mother of three. My children(9,12,17)are British, but I am on a visa and will get permanent residency in another 7 years time.I am employed and currently struggling with paying the rent as I do not get any help for anybody. The housing office says that i am not eligible for any benefits as I haven't got permanent residency.I would be able to balance my finances if I could get a little help towards the house rent. Please advice me how I should get some financial help.Thank you

A.

Any questions involving 'eligibility' and/or 'recourse to public funds' is always going to be very facr-dependent and very difficult to answer on the short amount of information you have provided. A lot also depends on which country you are a citizen of and whether or not it is in the European Economic Area?

If you want help towards the rent then it's best to ask theor local council's Housing Benefit department as they administer HB for social housing and LHA (Local Housing Allowance) for private sector. They also have access to the Discretionary Housing Fund (but you have to be entitled to HB in the first place!. Ask the council if there is a local welfare fund you could tap into.

Otherwise seek specialist advice - start with the local CAB and/or Shelter.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I just wanted to know if I have 50/50 access to my kids will council help with housing if im under 35 thanks.

A.

I think it is very unlikely - your age isn't really the issue - it is more a question of whether your local council has enough 2 bedroom homes for the demand. Usually the council would say that the person with prime care (in receipt of Child Benefit and/or who the child lives with most of the time) gets to 'qualify' for a 2 bedroom home.

Good luck.

Also check out the lead House of Lords decision called Holmes-Moorhouse-v-LB Richmond upon Thames 4/2/2009 House of Lords. It was held that despite the father having a shared residence order from the family court, his 4 children did not necessarily have to reside with him & were & could live with their mother & accordingly he did not have 'priority need'.
www.lawreports.co.uk/WLRD/2009/HLPC/Feb0.1.html

Richard Paris

Q.

Iv been in a violent marrige for 26yrs I need to get help with re housing as I can not get injunction due to my circumstances I still have 18year old daughter whom has just left college living with me and 14year old son will the council rehouse me I haven't got job due to my husband who would not allow me to work which I have been with him since I was 17 so ther fore has no qulifcations it's not so much the phiycile side of violence now it's the mental side

A.

Oh dear that sounds a very desperate situation indeed.
I don't fully understand why you can't get an injunction. Have you tried? Have you had legal advice that you can't get an injunction? Normally somebody in your circumstances would try to get some help from a solicitor. The Local Authority should help you and your children but they will ask you for some evidence of the abuse you have suffered. In the absence of any proof they may be slow to assist you.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher