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.

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

Q.

I have been waiting to be rehoused for 2 years due to fleeing violent ex .marac are involved but I am still in the same house .do you know anyone that can help please

A.

I am assuming that you have been placed in emergency temporary accommodation by the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit.
There is no time limit on how long you can remain in temporary accommodation.
Are you being allowed to "bid" on-line for permanent accommodation?
Possibly a good idea to visit your local Councillor who will have a monthly surgery or perhaps your Local MP and get them to chase up the Homeless Persons department.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

I have been waiting to be rehoused for 2 years due to fleeing violent ex .marac are involved but I am still in the same house .do you know anyone that can help please

A.

I am assuming that you have been placed in emergency temporary accommodation by the Local Authority Homeless Persons Unit.
There is no time limit on how long you can remain in temporary accommodation.
Are you being allowed to "bid" on-line for permanent accommodation?
Possibly a good idea to visit your local Councillor who will have a monthly surgery or perhaps your Local MP and get them to chase up the Homeless Persons department.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi. I'm living in council house with my wife, her son and our daughter. She wants me to leave due to marriage breakdown. What do I do to get house? I want to take my daughter with me. Please advise. Thank you

A.

Under no circumstances should you leave.
If you leave voluntarily you may be making yourself intentionally homeless and that could lead to even greater problems.
As to your leaving and taking your daughter with you this is something you would have to consult a matrimonial Lwa specialist on. I would certainly not advise it at this time.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello my son is in temporary emegency accomodation with his 2 children aged 2 and 3, he has been in one room in a shared house since 29/2 the council are saying they cannot complete their assessment until he has the child benefit for his youngest awarded and the tax credits for both of the children, he has been awarded the cb for the eldest child. we are getting nowhere with the child benefit department they say it takes time! why is this benefit claim holding up the councils process please

A.

Hiya

It cannot take 4 months for Child Benefit to be awarded especially if your son has child benefit for the youngest! Nor should it take 4 months for tax credits to be awarded. I suggest the local CAB and/or a law centre and/or a local advocacy service to chase this. He should also ask his MP and/or local councillor to advocate on his behalf.

He should ask Child Benefit (part of DWP) why they have not processed sooner and ask the same of HMRC (who deal with tax credits).

BUT the council are wrong to demand such proof before they will complete their assessment - they could accept other forms of proof and/or advocate on your son's behalf. I suggest you both read the Code of guidance on Homelessness at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/7841/152056.pdf

If nothing happens soon suggest your son start and official complaint against the council.

Good luck

Richard Paris