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 i moved to leicester from london through domestic violence with my 2 children when i arrived in leicester was told by housing options that they can not put me in a refuge in leicester because my husband knows the area so put me and my children in a refuge in birmimgham due to my deep depression at the time i was moved in a leicester rouge after 2 weeks. my depression became worse in the leicester refuge as the support was very bad and it affected me and my kids so with the help of my dad with the deposit i moved in to a private house and started to claim for housing benefit. now after being at this house for a year my land lord has sent me a notice of possession because he has family coming from abroad and need to property. i have tried looking for other private rented houses but i am finding that they are above my budget and also been told by a few agencies that most land lords have stopped taking housing benefit tenants.

A.

Get an advocate via CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre and/or women's aid. Make an appointment with the local council's housing options team and explain to them why you are losing your current accommodation. They may be able to help with a bond/deposit and/or put you in touch with a private landlord that will accept housing benefit.

The council may have an accredited private landlord forum.

If not you will be homeless again and with children with automatic priority need. The council should be trying to prevent your homelessness.

Good luck
Richard Paris

Q.

I am 16 weeks pregnant and my partner is leaving me for another woman. I live in manchester and got no relatives or friends to support me. I am planning to move to somerset to my sister once I'm on maternity leave as I will not cope on my own. I already suffer from anxiety. My sister owns a two bedroom flat where she lives with her husband and 2 young children. If I will move there I will end up living in a living room with my baby. What chances do I have to get a council or housing property to have my own space if I will move from manchester? Also when should I start applying if I stand a chance? I know it's usually impossible to apply for housing in a different are than where I currently live. Please advise as I can't sleep because I am so worried about my future. thank you in advance.

A.

The sooner you make the application to the Homeless Persons Unit in Somerset the better.
They will require proof of ID, proof of your pregnancy and they will require a full explanation as to why you cannot stay in Manchester.
They will also need to know why you have returned to Somerset.
Hopefully they will find you temporary accommodation.
I do wish you luck.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Is it possible for me to get help with rent? I'm a single parent i have 3 kids that live with there mum and i see them 3 times a week, after work twice during the week for an hour and i have them all
day on either Saturday or Sunday, I'm in a low income job and I'm living back with my parents but unfortunately, they don't have the space for the kids to come and stay over night and its causing issues with there mum about me not having the kids over night, all i want is a two bed place just so they can come over and stay a night or two during the week.

A.

If you move out and rent in the private sector you may be able to make a claim for Housing benefits.
This will depend very much on your income and the amount paid will also depend on the nature of your accommodation. They would not pay you in full for a 2 bedroom property but may do in the case of a 1 bedroom flat.

Rusell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, my husband left the family home 8 months ago, the house is solely in his name as I am a registered bankrupt and he is now saying he can no longer afford the mortgage payments and has to sell. He has said I can have whatever equity is in the house (will be less
than 10k) and he will be maintenance via the csa but my concern is that me and my children will be left homeless as I work part time and would not be able to privately rent or get another mortgage based on my wage and my credit history. Would our local council be able to help us and would I be eligible for rehousing. We have 3 children under the age of 14 so living with family members is not an option for us.

A.

Obviously someone has to meet the mortgage payments otherwise the house will be repossessed and sold by the Building society/bank.
Probably best if you see a solicitor to protect your interests. You do NOT want your ex selling the property and pocketing all the equity.
You should under no circumstances move out unless a solicitor has given you an undertaking that you will receive all the equity.

Once the property has been sold and you are,effectively homeless the local authority has a statutory duty to assist you with temporary accommodation and then permanent accommodation.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fsiher

Q.

hello i need advice.. i live now in homlesness temporary flat and i have mould in every room.. i told my resetlment worker about that because i have 2 children and youngest one have running nose all the time( it think she maybe have allergy to mould) when we are in flat..i just want to know if council have rehouse us.?

A.

Temporary accommodation should not be covered in mould.
Have you complained to the local Environmental Health officer? If not you should.
Further if you are not getting anywhere you should approach your local Councillor or MP.
It is not right that you should have to live in such appalling conditions.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Dear Sir I am currently being taken to court for posession of my home by the council after separation from my partner as she ended our tenancy. Neither the council or my ex partner advised me this was
happening until i was informed by the council that they had accepted her termination. I was and still am fighting to take my children away from her as she abuses them. However, due to her false accusations of domestic violence against her this it is being delayed. My question is, how do i block this and remain in my home as I also have a lodger and also it would mean a court would never allow me to have overnight contact with the children as i would only be allowed to have a one bed flat. feel my rights and the childrens rights are being ignored as I am male. Thank you

A.

Sadly the law is that any one of 2 joint tenants can serve a Notice to Quit on the Council and terminate the tenancy. The Supreme Court has very recently said that there is nothing the other party can do. I can think of no strategy for you other than to try to get a good solicitor to deal with the child abuse allegations which sound as though they need to be dealt with very urgently.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi my names Rebecca i have been living in my one bed council flat with my 9 month old daughter for 9 months in discusting damp conditions wall papers peeling off my ceilings are turning black we are over crowded on the 7th floor of a high rise lifts breaking all the time balcony is infested with pigeons and pigeon faeces my daughter was hospitalised from bronchilitis on the 29/10 my health visitor had told me to seek help immediately as my living conditions are not doing my daughter ma health any good get chest hasn't cleared and Iv wen waiting nerly 7 months to be rehoused I really need some help is there any advice you could give me I'm currently band b but feel like making my self homeless as living conditions are terrible making me depressed

A.

Try and get a strong advocate - CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre. Get them to take photos of your flat and assemble the evidence from your health visitor / GP and anyone else. There is an argument that 'it is not reasonable for you to continue to occupy' and hence you could present as homeless BUT it depends on the view of the housing options team and how bad conditions are for others!

Make an appointment with housing options and take the evidence and your advocate with you and see what the council says!

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

how long could i be in emergency accomodation.Ive been in a one bed flat with three children for the past three years, two boys and one girl. Despite being over crowded ive been put well over an hour a way from my boys schools, however we have endeavoured to make the journey to and from school since being here. I have previously had problems with domestic violence from my previous oartner (he went to prison for 72 days because of it). what id like to know is, do the council have a duty to house me closer to my support network ie my mother as i am a vulnerable person with regards to dv.

A.

You should try and get an advocate to argue your case. If you can get a support worker they can try and argue that your current accommodation is not 'suitablr' for you and your children - not only because it is too small but also it's location. Surely this is having a negative impact on your children?

What help have you had from the police/victim support? Try and get your children's school and GP to back up your argument. What are the council going to do longer term about your housing - where are you on the register and what 'banding'/priority have you got? Start with Women's Aid - the key national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children or phone them 0800 2000 247 and get the local advisors.

Richard Paris

Q.

hi . i hwas old to leave my council house by my husband nearly a year ago, i left even though we have a joint tenancy, because i feared him making a scene with the neighbours. i dont mind being away as i have made a new life for myself. but now the council are asking me to give up my
 tenancy. i am reluctant to do this because i have read that by doing so it will end the tenancy copletely and my husband will be told to leave the property and i do not wish this to happen to him, so i have refused to do this. my question is, can the council force me to end it or can i remain
 on it thankyou

A.

You are correct if either joint tenant ends their tenancy properly, it ends the whole joint tenancy. BUT If you do not wish to give up the joint tenancy, the council cannot force you to do so. This might be 'oppression' a complicated legal term. Read the McCann-v-UK case from the European Court of Human Rights to see how this works. BUT

 You will remain a joint tenant with your husband and hence liable/responsible for any rent arrears / breach of tenancy. Maybe make an appointment to see a family solicitor about your options - divorce / deed of separation etc. Also ask CAB and/or a law centre for their views.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi my name is shelica I have 2 children a boy aged 3 and a girl aged 5, Barking and Dagenham have made me intentionally homeless this happened about 5 months ago I've been staying with family but they can no longer let me and my children stay! I've contacted charity in hope for
some help but no luck, please could you give me some advice on how sort this out because any day now me and my kids will end up on the streets. Please help me

A.

Hard to advise without knowing more about why you were found to be intentionally homeless?

I suggest you make an appointment with Children Services as they probably have a duty under s.17 Children Act 1989 towards your children. They should arrange temporary accommodation whilst they decide what the longer term solutions might be. They cannot allow children to be street homeless. Check out with CAB and/or Shelter and/or the law centre what other options you have? Try and get your children's school onside and your own GP and any other professional.

Good luck

Richard Paris