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 need some advice please! I'm a victim of domestic violence and live in a three bed house with two kids! I've been provisionally offered a two bed house with another housing association but have rent arrears due to housing benefit taking there time in processing my claim! I'm trying really hard to pay off the debt as I really need the house as I don't need a three bed! I'm being supported by people if this stops me getting the house is there any options I can take so I don't loose the offered house

A.

Have the local authority said you need to clear the arrears before they move you? If so you should challenge the decision. As a victim of domestic violence you must be moved as soon as possible. The rent arrears are the least of your problems.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

 

Q.

To whom it may concern I am writing to you to seek advice pertaining to overcrowding and unsuitability of the property (studio flat) my daughter (16) and I have been residing in for the last 4 years. The flat is circa 15 m square and very damp. Due to the lack of space, we have been sleeping on the floor for the last four years. This, however, became impossible when on 10.08.2014 my toilet exploded and flooded the flat (bathroom, corridor and some part of out sleeping area)making it impossible to stay there, not to mention sleep on the floor. The housing association I am with (Peabody) took 18 days to come and provisionally fix  the problem (28.08.2014) causing further major flooding. The job remains unfinished and they are "not sure" when it will happen so. I have already reported the issue to the local environmental agency, but I do believe the overcrowding and health risks posed by the property are actually illegal. I look forward to hearing from you.

A.

As this is a flat provided by a Social Housing provider it is probably a correct size. Certainly you are not overcrowding it as legally 2 adults are, strangely enough, able to share 1 room. The disrepair sounds awful. Perhaps you should be consulting a lawyer about that. Sometimes when a disrepair claim is launched a landlord is keener to help you find other accommodation.

Best of luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi there I am a single parent living in a 2 bedrooms flat, housing association with my 12 years old daughter and my 1 year old son. We are at present bidding and on a transfer list to be moved into a bigger property. If my boyfriend decided to move in would my status, general band, on the housing list change? Would we be penalised or perhaps the fact that an extra person living in a two beds would it give us a higher priority? Thank you

A.

The fact that your boyfriend moves into the flat will not really impact on your situation. Oddly enough a 2 bedroom flat is only statutorily overcrowded when 9 or more people are living in it. You should continue bidding and I hope you are successful soon.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello, I am single mother and I currently live with my friend  in a 1 bedroom flat who also have a baby. I do not have a place where to move. I work part time which is 24 hours a week and my daughter goes to pre school twice a week. Could you please tell my what are my options.

Thank you

A.

If your friend asks you to leave you could present as homeless to the local authority. Whether they will assist you will depend upon your housing history and where you were living previously.

As you have a child you are in priority need and they should be willing to give you some assistance.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

My son is sad and threatens to jump out a window we live on 6 the floor he has learning difficulties and is being statemented if I give my home up will I be rehoused on the ground or will I be rehoused by council?

A.

This is very sad.

A lot depends on the medical evidence you have.

Cannot windows be secured? Unless you have very compelling medical evidence giving up the flat may be a very high risk strategy. In the absence of strong medical evidence you can of course report the matter to your local Councillor or MP. Alternatively you may wish to present at the local Homeless Persons unit. But be very cautious of giving up accommodation unless you have been promised something in return.

Good Luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

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