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, At the moment i am renting a flat with my Ex- Partner, but we decided to go separate ways and i am moving out. I need a help please regarding few thing as its not as easy when the baby is involved. We are both on flat Contract - but he said he wants to stay there, i assume i still need to notify the agency/ landlord about the move? I dont know where to start looking for a place for myself and baby? I am working part-time so i will have to apply for some help in paying rent/ childcare. Not every landlord wants someone with benefits. Should i find a place first, explain my situation and then apply for benefits? I've contacted citizens Advise B but i need to speak to someone Face to Face as they don't do on the phone help.I am a bit overwhelmed by the whole situation.

A.

Why are you moving out?
This puts quite a bit of pressure on you.
Finding another flat may be very difficult indeed as the Landlord will do detailed due diligence on you, require references and quite likely refuse to help you unless he is sure you can afford the rent.
I think you may wish to suggest to your partner that they move out as they may be in a better situation to find alternative accommodation.

Best of luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

i just left my husband on Sunday he was bullying me everyday i was emotional so i left with my son who is 3 years old .. am staying with a friend as temporary accommodation she give me her room because of my baby while she sleep on the sofa ..I been try to file out application form about housing benefit for Westminster council but they say i Can't because i don't have tenancy agreement how am i suppose to get a tenancy agreement without any money for deposit or money to paid rent in my bank account

A.

Hi there,
You need to make an application to the Local Authority Homeless Persons unit.
You must tell them that you are homeless as you have had to leave the former matrimonial home due to domestic violence/emotional bullying.
They will find you temporary accommodation.
Make sure and insist that they take an application from you; this will involve fillin g out quite a long form and you will need to give proof of ID, Birth certificates etc.
Best of luck.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

My partner has left me and my two children I have found a property and he has agreed to pay the rent however he wants to add something to the legal document stating that any rent he pays will come out of our family home if he sells it? Can he do this He is friends with the landlord and I think they are settling me up I can't get hold of my solicitor.

A.

There seems to be a divorce/separation situation going on here.
Difficult for me to advise without having all the facts.
Best for you to get the advice from your matrimonial solicitor who does have all the facts and will be in a better situation to advise you.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hello I am a single mum i have 2 boys 19 years old fulltime student and 13 years old fulltime student james is going to 20 in aplil 27 and he will go university in septembe, i have been livingin this property for 17 years it was housing and association know one month ago it became counsil property we know moving as result of knew development, the flat has 1 doble bedroom and onother very small one, with my previos landlord i was eady for moving to 3 bedroom as the child are group up and end up living in the living room know for the last 5 years council said that i do not qualify for 3 bedroom nor for the split tenancy for james.what is there for me to do please? thank you

A.

Sadly there is not a lot you can do here. You are not statutorily overcrowding the property as the Law says you can have 2 people in each room (including the living room). I doubt you have a great deal of priority unless you can come up with a great deal of compelling medical evidence.
I expect unless you can do a mutual exchange to a larger flat there is not a great deal you can do.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

Q.

Hi, I currently live in a 2 bedroom council flat after my ex left me a year and a half ago. He has now decided he wants to go for joint custody with our 2 year old daughter. Will this affect my housing situation? Will I still be able to keep my council flat even though she will only be in my care 50% of the time?

A.

The good news is you will not lose your flat whatever happens to the children as you have a tenancy and this cannot be determined because of anything to do with your children.

Kind regards,

Russell Conway
Senior Partner

Oliver Fisher

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