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 am currently living in a 2 bedroom flat with 4 children 3 girls and 1 boy my brother also lives with me. the council are staying i am now entitled to a 3 bedroom is this true? and if so how do i go about applying for this? i also work full time will this affect me in any way?

A.

I am not sure I understand what the council has told you? if you are living in the private sector then you might be 'entitled' to a 3 bedroom but it is not to say you will be the only applicant. Most councils get more people who need social housing than they can help - there may be hundreds of families with similar housing need. Go back to the council for clarity and ask them how you apply, what your priority will actually be, how many others are in a similar situation and how long you might have to wait? Your brother (depending on his age) might not be included in your housing application?

Also ask the local CAB and/or Shelter for advice.

Good luck

Richard Paris

 

Q.

Hi, I currently live in a one bedroom flat on the fourth floor with my 5 year old son, being in this flat has made me depressed and also have panic attacks and caused me and son a number of health problems, however the council have dismissed me and said I do not need any further housing help as I am 'suitably' housed? could you tell me if there is anything I can do? and also what is the maximum age I can share a room with my son?

A.

You are not alone - thousands of people are living in 'unsuitable' housing and have been told the same as you! There is no legal requirement for your son to have his own bedroom - the current overcrowding law is archaic. BUT Get your son's school, GP and any other support workers you have to write a report highlighting how your current accommodation is having a negative impact on you and your son and see if you can get your 'priority' on the register / waiting list raised. Are you renting from the council / a housing association or private landlord. If you are already in social housing, you should be trying to get your priority for a transfer raised.

Also seek help from the local CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre. Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

My land lord wants to selll the home I am living in with my three children would my local council help with afforderble housing initially I moved here with my partner but he walked out on us in January I continued living here with help from housing benefit who are helping me with the rent . I work full time which makes me feel like there is no help for me I am barly covering the bills with my salary I need as much advise as possible please I just don't know where to go from here.

A.

You are not alone - private landlords asking their tenants to leave for whatever reason is most common reason for homelessness!! Make an appointment when you can with Housing Options at the local council. Often this is a new name for homelessness department BUT it should do 'what it says on the tin'. Ask them what your options are. The council's has a duty to try and prevent homelessness and look at all the options. Depending on where you live you might find that there are thousands of people registered on the council's list and.if they run Choice based Lettings, you might get a lowish priority but this will go up when you are actually homeless.

Get them to explain to you how this would work for you? They might suggest another private sector home and some councils will help with deposits / bonds etc. They might try and persuade your landlord to delay selling and/or asking you to leave.The Council must also have a free housing advice service - try them as well. Also contact local CAB and/or Shelter and/or a law centre.

Good luck.

Richard Paris

 

Q.

 Hi I was married for 10 years from Sept 2004 until 28th August 2013, I am at present going through divorce. My then 15yr old daughter informed me my husband had been touching her, he was arrested and bailed under condition he does not contact her or any witness. Their is a case going to Crown Court 5th January 2015. There is also a case for rape against me which is currently with the CPS. We moved into a council property in June 2013 and have a joint tenancy, obviously I would like his name taken off as he has not lived her since 28th August 2013, I have been informed by my solicitor that the only way to chat is to get a court order which includes dealing with any finances, I have £8,000 savings which I had before I met or married my ex and so do not wish to share this with him, also the fact that he stole a large amount of money from the home after his release. Can you please give me any adivice in which I can get my tenancy transferred.

A.

I agree with your solicitor.

In Order to get him off the tenancy you will need a Court Order. That should not be too difficult for you and I doubt any of your relatively modest assets will be at risk.

The only other way forward would be for you to discuss matters with your Housing Officer and suggest you serve Notice to Quit the flat. One of 2 joint tenants can do this on condition that she rehouses you and your family in suitable alternative accommodation close by.

I hope all works out well for you.

Kind  Regards,

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

My daughter has suffered domestic violence and needs emergency housing the council will only house her 25+ miles away ,she will be away from her strong family support alone with a 15 month old baby she relieses on the family for support can we force the council to house in her own area where she grew up and has friends and good support?

A.

Domestic violence cases normally involve parties being rehoused as far away from the violence as possible. There is no point in rehousing somebody close to where the violence took place.

I am not told where the violence took place or where the accommodation is that has been offered but certainly the absence of family support is a consideration, albeit a consideration which has to be balanced against the need to protect the individual from further violence.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi i rent a 2 room on the top floor of a shared house with 5 other professional people. 2 Teachers, a barrister and 2 trainee dentists.  My question is, what are my chances of getting weekend custody of my child living with me? She would have one of the rooms which are next to one another. the rest of the house would be shared with the other people...bathroom, kitchen living room and garden. Currently she does not have her own room and has been living with her mum for the last 5 years in the same room. Any advice would really help. thank you.

A.

Getting weekend contact is something that depends only in part on the nature and extent of your accommodation. Your ex will doubtless have views of her own on whether there should be contact. If, however, she unreasonably refuses contact you should apply to the Court for a contact regime. Perhaps starting with daylong visits, progressing to 2 days and thereafter holiday contact.

Obviously the Court will look at what you have to offer in terms of accommodation but certainly the Courts starting point will be what is in the best interests of the child and normally contact with the father is in the best interests of the child.

Russell Oliver

Oliver Fisher

 

Q.

My daughter recently applied for council housing and was entered into the bidding process, her landlord was approached for a reference and has stated my daughter has rent arrears, she has disputed this fact and at no time has the landlord ever approached her about any arrears, the council say she has to clear this debt before she is allowed to bid so basically forcing her to pay moneys she does not owe to enable her to bid again. Is there anything she can do about this?

A.

Whether or not there  are arrears surely must be a question of fact. Have you attempted to prepare a schedule showing what should have been paid & what has in fact been paid?

You should also ask to see the local authority Housing Allocation Policy. Does this state that you cannot bid if you are a private sector tenant in arrears of rent? Probably the real issue here is that if your daughter is single and has no children she will be waiting a very long time to be able to get any accommodation. Unless, of course, she has health issues which may give her a degree of priority. Remember your daughter will be bidding against applicants with several children, significant health issues  and applicants who are homeless.

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I have just broken up with my partner and have no idea where to go from here. It is only his name on the tenancy agreement and therefor he is staying in the flat. Where can I go to find accommodation for me and my daughter who is 18 months old? I am a single mum now with no income and a child to provide for

A.

Apply as a homeless person to your local Homeless persons unit.

As you have a child you should be in priority need and they should place you in temporary accommodation.

Good luck

Russell Conway

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi I'm a single mum with 2 children age 12 and 9 and am currently privately renting. My rent is 300 per week but my housing benefit is only 184 per week so there is a large shortfall which I cannot afford to pay anymore, I've been struggling through by borrowing the money from people. I have been told that because I work part time my housing benefit won't increase and I have also been declined DHP. I have frantically been trying to find a cheaper property as the local LHA rate is 233 per week for a 3 bed but that isn't a realistic rent for my area, more like 300 per week!  Plus every property I enquirer about refuses to take DSS? I had a meeting with the housing options team to try and get on the council list but I have to be physically evicted and homeless to be able to do this even tho I'm going to be homeless soon. I am now in the situation whereby I can't afford my rent and have no where else to go, and no new properties I can find to live in? What do I do now?

A.

You are stuck with the increasingly common problem of their being insufficient 'affordable' housing in the local area. I would go back to housing options who should do more than state the obvious about help being available when you are actually homeless - their duty in law is to try and prevent homelessness (remind them of this!). What do they suggest you do rather than just waiting for the inevitable?

Also ask the local CAB and/or law centre and/or Shelter. Good luck.

 Richard Paris

Q.

Hi there, I am a single mother of a 2yr old boy and we are living  with my parents and have been for over 18 months due to rent arrears. The arrears occurred whilst I was still in a relationship with my sons father who is a heavy drug addict. We were evicted because he would say he's paying the rent he would bully me emotionally into letting him get what he wants. I have finally managed to break away from the relationship 5 months ago with the help of family and a domestic abuse support worker. But since the break up I have been left with the full amount of arrears as my ex
 refuses to pay any of it. I have managed to pay off nearly a quarter off but the amount of arrears is still large. I don't know what to do now asmy father has just been made redundant and my mother hasn't worked as my  father had a substantial income to look after her. But now they can no longer afford to keep letting me live with them. I also suffer depression and anxiety which I take medication for. I don't know what

A.

Difficult case but if you can show that you have been reducing the arrears consistently over the last 6 months and if 'it is no longer reasonable' for you to continue to live with your parents (change in circumstances which is not your fault), then I suggest the council might have to take a 'fresh' homeless application. As long as they regard living with your parents as 'settled' accommodation?

I suggest you make an appointment with housing options and take all paperwork + your domestic abuse support worker and ask housing options what you might do? The council has an obligation to prevent homelessness - see what they say. You might also try the local CAB and/or law centre and/or Shelter. Good luck.

 Richard Paris