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.

Hello. I'm a single Father who has joint custody of my 2 children aged 4 and 7. I currently live in a house share with 1 other person. This person is wishing to leave the house share which leaves me in a financial pit of doom. I'm unable to afford this property, which is rented, by myself nor able to afford another property which will be suitable for me and my children. Is there any kind of financial aid for fathers in my predicament? Hope to hear from you soon.

A.

Very difficult situation - is there no-one else you can share with to replace the one who is leaving? Would the landlord/letting agent help you find someone else?

Make an appointment with the local council's housing advice service and ask them what your options are - the service is free. There maybe a local housing association or the council itself may be able to help in some way.

Good luck.

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi, I was looking for some advice and came across this page and hope you could offer some advice. I currently live in a council property with my son, he's 3. My neighbours (upstairs flat), are involved with drugs and I regularly have people banging my doors/windows at night mistaking my flat for theirs. I've reported incidents to polive and the council numerous times, the council don't do anything. It's made living here unbearable, I'm scared to be in my own home, I'm currently on anxiety medication. My son, who is awaiting assesment for autism is also terrified, he sleeps in my bed as he is too petrified to sleep on his own. My flat is on ground floor so my bedroom window is downstairs and I feel very exposed and vulnerable. I've been on the waiting list for a transfer for almost 2 years. Is there anything I can do to try and get transferred any quicker? I am completely desperate at this point and in fear for mine and my son's safety.

A.

Your situation sounds awful! Why haven't the police and/or council done anything?

I suggest you ask CAB and/or any advice service if there is a victim's champion in your area - ask the police for Victim Support's number/contact details. Also find out who your local councillors are and make an appointment to see them and tell them what has been happening and how nothing seems to be happening.

Then with advocacy or on your own start the Community Trigger in your area - details below.
Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014

Part Six : ss.101-105 Case Review (Trigger) - 13 May 2014
The aim is to give victims & communities a right to request a review of their case & bring agencies together to take a joined-up, problem solving approach.
A victim or a 3rd party or a councillor or an MP can file a report regarding ASB. If the report meets the local threshold, there must be a multi-agency case review
The threshold is set locally but must include frequency, persistence, harm or potential harm, no more than 3 complaints in 6 months. The PCC must be consulted on the trigger procedure & threshold. The victim must be informed if the threshold is reached
Partner agencies - council, social landlords, police, clinical commissioning groups + other local appropriate agencies must meet to share information, review action taken & decide if further action

Do not suffer in silence - make responsible agencies take action. Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I am a single parent with a 2 year old son living in Northern Ireland Im currently living in a top floor 2 bedroom flat. I have been a victim of domestic Violence with a ex partner I have been put on the list of Marac and the police have been dealing with my situation. My ex partner has been let out on bail too many times and he's causing great threat to us. I HAVE left in many of police reports and reference numbers and I'm currently on the ni housiget executive transfer list as a managers tranafter but I've been told 110 is all I'm entitled to and that I probably won't get housed away from this abuser. Please I need some help if you know how I can get any extra points I've asked the housing why I haven't been awadded intimmadation points and they completely ignore me saying it's up to their bosso to award these.

A.

As a victim of domestic violence it does seem a pity that the Local Council are not pulling out all the stops to help you.
Have you tried to appoint a Legal Aid Lawyer to assist you?
If not this is something you should do. I would also be keen to see you contacting your local MP (he/she will hold a monthly surgery), and your local Councillor so they can put in representations on your behalf. Your GP should also write a letter supporting you and explain how the domestic violence has impacted upon you.
I do wish you luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I have recently divorced and received a 52 percent share of the marital home which equates to about 57K. I am currently residing in my mothers home and have a 10year old child. The courts approved the fianancial order in December and my ex husband had 28 in which to implement it and take my name off the mortgage. He has not complied with latter and says he can do this by April. If i go to court it will take a few months for the case to be heard and i dont wish to incur further expenses. What are my options? Also i need to rehouse myself in London on very small income. What are my options here? I cant afford to purchase outright and cannot get a reasonable sized mortgage. I am 46 years of age. Thank you for your help.

A.

You could go back to court for an order that your ex-husband comply with the 28 day frame but it would cost even more money and take a long time - to what end? Are you sure he will take your name off mortgage by April?

With only 57K and a small income I do not see how you can afford to stay in London? I reckon even shared ownership would probably be beyond your reach and I suspect you would have a hard time generating a mortgage?

Contact some of the registered providers (housing associations) that do shared ownership in outer London - not sure whether you want North, South, East or West and ask them what the lowest premium would be and how much you could meet their 'affordability' criteria? Also ask them if any bank/building society might help?

You could also seek free advice from the local authority where your mum lives and see what they advise?

London house prices and rental prices are 'mad' - you might be forced to look well outside London - you could buy outright in parts of the Midlands / Lincolnshire etc. Good luck.

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I have been in temporary accommodation since April this year but homeless since July 2015 sofa surfing my son was born in October 2015. I have been moved out of borough when my son was 5 months old so have no support, into a house split into six rooms where the kitchen is upstairs!! And is shared by all, oh also I'm the only women with a child here all other rooms are occupied by men is this allowed some are renting privately just doesn't feel right being the only women living here especially with my son, is this actually allowed when facilites are shared and should i be somewhere where the kitchen is upstairs , bringing hot food down and preparing with my son when it's a small kitchen with no sitting room is hard and dangerous

A.

Thanks for your enquiry.
Currently you are in temporary accommodation.
That sort of accommodation does not need to be of the standard of "Permanent accommodation".
I think from what you are saying is that you have exclusive use of your own room and exclusive use of bathroom facilities.
It is only the kitchen which is shared.
That is obviously not a good state of affairs and you should start campaigning to be moved to self-contained permanent accommodation just as soon as possible. Do you have any medical evidence stating that your health is being affected by the current state of affairs?
Sadly you cannot say that the Local Authority are doing anything wrong by putting you in a house with other male occupants.
It would be a good idea to visit your local Councillor and local MP.
Both will hold local "surgeries" and you will be able to ask at the TownHall or at the local Reference Library as to where you will be able to find them.
I do wish you luck and hope that you get your own flat very soon.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Me and my daughter have not had a permanent address since the 2nd of February. I have tried to seek help from the council and social services because of the reason we had to leave (child safety and the mother didnt want me and our daughter in the flat) but continue to get pushed away from social and the council. The council gave me a check list type situation which each time they told me to go and do something I would do so that night, one of the task they to!d me to do was to return to the flat which then almost left me with a criminal charge. Just wondered if I could receive any advice and help from you

A.

Hiya
I cannot really help with advice without knowing a lot more detail. BUT you need an advocate who can help you challenge the council on it's seeming lack of constructive action. Try the CAB and/or Shelter and/or a local voluntary advice agency and/or a knowledgeable friend - from the little you have told us it would seem you are legally homeless and in priority need if your daughter is under 18?

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

I am a single mum of a 12yr son. We have been homeless for the last 9 month due to rent arrears when I lost my job. We have been sofa surfing for months. I need to leave my friends at the wnd of the months he refuses to write a letter for me to take to the homeless service. I have just been made permanent at my new job. I can not afford price te rent. I don't have the deposit or guarantor trying to get out of this hole. Don't know what to do next?

A.

You don't say whether you have previously been to a council homelessness/housing options team? If you have were you found to be 'intentionally homeless'? If so you need to establish what is known as 'a break in the chain of causation' and staying with a friend probably won't do that!

You need a good advocate like Shelter or a local advice centre to explain your options - maybe a 'bond' or deposit guarantee for the private sector? You can still seek free advice from the local council about what your options are.

You don't strictly need a letter from your friend for the homelessness service - just get them to email / text / phone him.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi some advice would be great I have a 16 month old daughter. My Ex Partner has a 2 year old disabled son. January 2016 My ex and i split breifly and she got into another relationship. Social services got involved as her son was put into hospital with a tumour. Update June 2016. Her son was released from hospital and a care order was issued my ex and her son are in a mother and baby unit for 12 weeks while she is assessed as a mother, meanwhile my daughter stays with me in the flat. I need to leave the accomodation in 11 weeks time and need to find somewhere to live. will the council support me in housing as i have joint custordy of my daughter? Thanks

A.

Hiya

Very hard to answer completely as your situation is very complicated. You need to take any paperwork relating to your current accommodation, plus stuff about your ex's situation and son + your daughter and make an appointment with the local council's housing options team.

They must provide you with free advice and assistance - they can tell you more about whether they can help or whether a private sector options might be available. Joint custody cases are decided on the merits - there is no universal rule!

Get advice from Shelter and/or CAB and/or any other advice agency or law centre.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

My best friends wife has just passed away. He is left with a young daughter. He is in full time work but his salary is not sufficient to cover a 2 bed flat in Ealing which is where he needs to live. He only has one month to sort out his housing. We do not have a problem with benefits/rent/ working financials out. What we need help with is actually finding a landlord in Ealing who will look after him in terms of being open to his situation. Do you have any advice for me - i am trying to help - as he is working and now a single Dad his time is limited. He needs some help. Many thanks in advance

A.

Hiya

Get your friend to make an appointment with the local council's housing options team or maybe their housing advice team. get him to take all appropriate paperwork with him and explain his situation. They must give him free advice and assistance and maybe able to help with a deposit or bond or access to the private rented sector and/or a housing provider in the area.

Get him to do this as soon as possible - ultimately it is likely the council would have to provide him with temporary and then permanent accommodation but there is no knowing how long that might take or where it would be.

Get advice from Shelter and/or CAB and/or a law centre.

Good luck

Richard Paris

Q.

Hi I'm a single working mum with 5 children, one in uni, one in a level and one doing gcse. I've been living and working in the borough for about 20 years and now am homeless. I was about to be discharged from my council and have been offered accommodation outside my borough which is around 2hrs away from my previous residence. The landlord of that emergency accommodation has refused to take such a large family, and as a result was offered Birmingham If I take Birmingham I lose my job, my children's schools and the life I built. What should my next step be?

A.

Hello,
Thanks for your question.
The Royal Borough should not be housing you outside the Borough if you are employed locally.
Have you attempted to Review their decision?
These types of cases are highly complex as the Borough have to assess all the circumstances but it is sometimes a very good idea to see a Solicitor, CAB or Law Centre for more comprehensive advice.
Your case seems to have been treated very badly by the Borough.
You must now attempt to challenge their decision.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher