Social housing: tenant in London
Anthony Gold has a first-rate reputation assisting social tenants and leaseholders with complex cases, where there is often an interplay between social housing and other areas, such as public law and human rights, family law, trusts and personal injury law. The firm also has an excellent record acting for homeless individuals and families. Sara Stephens, practice head Andrew Brookes and Giles Peaker are among the members of the team, which is representing 41 residents and former residents of the Ledbury Estate in claims against the London Borough of Southwark for alleged breaches of repairing obligations. In addition, Brookes and solicitor Jennifer Evans are acting for a number of survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire in an ongoing inquiry. Timothy Waitt represented an individual tenant with medical needs in court proceedings arising from a local authority's refusal to accept his homelessness application, following his eviction from private rented accommodation which was in severe disrepair. Consultant Deirdre Forster is another notable individual.
Other key lawyers:
Residents and Former Residents of the Ledbury Estate
Residential Landlords Association
Core Participants of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Tenant of Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
- Acted for a secure tenant with numerous health problems in a claim against the London Borough of Southwark over its alleged failure to provide adequate proposals to complete repair works or to rehouse the client.
- Acted for the Residential Landlords Asssociation on intervention in judicial review, R(JCWI) v Secretary of State for Home Department, challenging the ‘right to rent’ provisions of Immigration Act 2014 and 2016, and the Home Office implementations of the scheme.
- Acted for a shared ownership leaseholder in a claim against Wandle Housing Association for building defects at a new-build block of flats and for ongoing disrepair.
- Acted for a tenant in a case against a landlord, who had failed to protect the tenancy deposit. Notable because the maximum penalty was applied and the case raised issues of law relating to multiple penalties.
- Defended a secure tenant (who had made a Right to Buy application) against an allegation that he was unlawfully sub-letting the property he was residing in. He was threatened by the London Borough of Southwark with prosecution under the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, as well as a refusal to complete his Right to Buy.
Social housing has been an area of focus at Bindmans LLP for 45 years. The firm's first-rate reputation is illustrated by practice head Paul Ridge being sought out for particularly challenging housing matters, such as those involving community care, public law and disability rights issues. The firm's work has been dominated by matters arising from the Grenfell Tower fire; Ridge is currently acting for 198 people in an inquiry into the tragedy, which is exploring the causes of the fire, along with the political and regulatory framework connected with housing, regeneration and construction. In addition, the firm also serves as a standing adviser to Lancaster West Residents Association and Silchester Residents Association in relation to the fire; the scope of the advice has included the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea's consultation obligations, regeneration, leaseholder rights and rehousing. Ridge is supported by solicitor Christian Hansen.
Other key lawyers:
Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Lancaster West Residents Association
- Christian Hansen acted for Vida Poshteh in an application to the European Court of Human Rights complaining that the domestic courts’ approach to her challenge to a decision under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996 was not compliant with Article 6 of the ECHR because the decision had not been subject to sufficient independent scrutiny – Poshteh v UK (ECHR ref 78375/17). Ms Poshteh was a victim of torture in prison in Iran and suffers from PTSD. She was offered accommodation by the local authority as a successful homeless applicant but refused the offer because she had a panic attack when viewing the accommodation caused by similarities to her prison cell in Iran. The local authority decided to discharge its housing duty under Part VII following a refusal by Ms Poshteh to accept the offer of accommodation. The case concerned the lawfulness of the Part VII challenge procedure which affects all local authorities and homeless applicants.
Deighton Pierce Glynn
Deighton Pierce Glynn has a well-established reputation as a leading firm for protecting the rights of migrants, homelessness victims and other vulnerable clients in housing cases. Housing advice and representation has been a cornerstone of the firm's work since its inception in 1997. Rebecca Bahar, who was hired in 2018 from Philcox Gray & Co, has experience of cases involving possession proceedings, where there are interrelated issues such as anti-social behaviour, rent arrears and disputed succession. Polly Glynn's work is centred around homelessness and destitution, and Equality Act challenges. Associate solicitor Sasha Rozansky has experience of housing-related test cases, where she has acted for destitute and vulnerable asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, EU nationals and other migrants. Consultant Keith Coughtrie, who joined from Minton Morrill, is particularly knowledgeable about the rights of the travelling community. Gareth Mitchell departed to work as a Judge, sitting in both the Social Entitlement and Immigration and Asylum chambers of the First-tier Tribunal.
Sasha Rozansky; Rebecca Bahar
Roma Support Group
The Official Solicitor
Asylum Support Appeals Project
- Acted for the claimant in AS v Secretary of State for the Home Department, which concerns a challenge to the Home Secretary’s allegedly unlawful delay in providing a potential victim of trafficking suitable accommodation and financial support.
- Acting for a client in a damages action against her landlord for unlawful eviction, harassment and assault. This includes a claim for aggravated damages because the action was allegedly racially motivated, and because the client has been unable to get another assured shorthold tenancy because the landlord evicted her prior to the rent provisions under the Immigration Act 2014 coming into force (for new tenancies only). The dispute also involves a claim against the police for allegedly failing to protect the client despite the eviction being a criminal offence, and for a declaration that those actions were discriminatory and a breach of the client’s rights under the Human Rights Act 1998.
- Assisting a homeless asylum seeker with obtaining an emergency injunction to compel the Home Office to provide support and accommodation.
- Acted for the claimant in R (Maciej Zyzniewski) v Secretary of State for the Home Department, an early test case challenging the new scheme of accommodation for asylum seekers under para 9, Schedule 10 of the Immigration Act 2016 which replaces Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The claimant is a mentally ill EU national who could not be released from detention because of a lack of accommodation.
- Representing the claimant in Jones v Welsh Ministers & Ors concerning a statutory appeal against the refusal of planning permission for a Traveller site. The case addresses the statutory duty that local authorities have to provide sites in Wales.
Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors operates at the top end of the market for housing advice, and is sought out top assist with the most complex and significant issues impacting the area. Daniel Fitzpatrick and team head Jayesh Kunwardia are representing 42 clients in the inquiry connected with the Grenfell Tower fire, and have also advised on associated rehousing issues. In addition, Kunwardia acted for a former resident of Grenfell Tower in a claim arising from the failure by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to offer suitable accommodation in the aftermath of the fire. Another notable individual in the team is Farzana Chowdhury, who has experience of acting for vulnerable tenants and individuals with mental health issues; she is particularly active in possession cases involving allegations of nuisance and anti-social behaviour. Sophie Bell is also recommended.
Other key lawyers:
Grenfell Public Inquiry
- Represented a client (a non-secure tenant) in a disrepair claim against a London local authority.
- Acted for the appellant (an individual with significant mobility issues) in a hearing before the Court of Appeal concerning a homelessness case arising from the unsuitability of temporary accommodation offered to the client.
- Acted for a client in a successful appeal to the County Court, arising from a decision made by a local authority that the client was intentionally homeless.
- Defended a tenant against a possession claim brought by a landlord for rent arrears, with a counterclaim brought for disrepair and damages for not protecting the tenant’s deposit under a tenancy deposit protection scheme.
- Represented a client in a successful homelessness appeal to the County Court.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors' social housing team is mainly spread across offices in Croydon, Dalston, Harrow and Lewisham. It covers the full range of housing disputes, including disrepair cases, possession proceedings involving Equality Act defences, homelessness appeals and judicial reviews. The firm's commitment to access to justice is reflected by its significant involvement in pro bono work, and it is also acting for a number of participants in the Grenfell Tower inquiry. Manjinder Kaur Atwal is assisting an assured tenant with defending a possession claim and bringing a counterclaim against a landlord property development company, as well as the sole director of and shareholder in the landlord. Atwal is also defending a client against a possession claim concerning a shared ownership property under Article eight and Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights in a potentially precedent-setting case concerning the role of social landlords in possession proceedings for shared ownership property brought by a mortgagee. Other recommended individuals are Dianne Cowie, James de Vere Moss, Chinedu Orogbu, Bernadette Chikwe and Subbiah Sivapunniyam.
Bernadette Chikwe; Dianne Cowie; James de Vere Moss; Subbiah Sivapunniyam; Chinedu Orogbu; Manjinder Kaur Atwal
- Represented a secure tenant in possession proceedings brought by a local authority landlord, and in a counterclaim for disrepair at the property.
Osbornes' clients turn to the firm for advice on a broad cross-section of contentious issues involving local authorities and housing associations, including disrepair claims, homelessness appeals, possession proceedings and unlawful evictions. William Ford's housing law expertise is complemented by his knowledge of community care, including cases concerning the rights of children and care leavers. Ford also acts for the elderly, individuals lacking mental capacity and other vulnerable clients. Also notable is that he has particular experience of matters where there is an overlap between housing law and EU or immigration law. Shilpa Mathuradas also leads on complex housing cases. Associate solicitor Manjit Mandair is among other notable individuals. The group works closely with the family and matrimonial department, as well as the private client team.
Other key lawyers:
- The firm defended a vulnerable client who lacked litigation capacity against a claim for possession of his home and an application for an anti-social behaviour injunction.
- The firm acted for a vulnerable homeless client who had been refused assistance by the local authority.
- The firm successfully represented a client in an application to set aside a warrant for her eviction.
- The firm successfully represented a vulnerable homeless client with complex physical and mental health issues, and who was a victim of domestic violence, in a homelessness case.
Burke Niazi Solicitors & Associates
Burke Niazi Solicitors & Associates has had a legal aid contract for housing since the inception of the firm, and is able to advise clients on an urgent basis, thanks to its ability to grant emergency legal aid funding. The firm also provides assistance on a private basis. Another hallmark of its practice is that its team's housing law knowledge is supplemented by expertise in related areas, such as community care, mental health and family law. Department head Keith Clarke has more than a decade of housing law experience, and his commitment to the area is further evidenced by the fact that he is a member of the Housing Law Practitioners Association. Clarke is also an Accredited Legal Representative under the the Law Society’s Mental Capacity (Welfare) Accreditation Scheme. In 2018, a highlight involved Michael Barrett successfully defending a vulnerable tenant against a possession claim.
Other key lawyers:
Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors
Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors covers a wide range of matters in the housing sphere, and it has combined strengths in housing law and public law; this particularly comes to the fore in housing-related public law challenges. Rebekah Carrier's recent work has included cases arising from the allocation of social housing, and she is experienced in challenges to local authority housing allocation schemes, as well as challenges to welfare reform measures affecting housing benefit (including the bedroom tax and benefit cap). Also active in challenges to housing allocation policies is Ann Bevington, who is also sought out to handle disrepair claims, possession proceedings, homelessness cases and illegal evictions. Bevington recently acted for the claimant in a judicial review challenge concerning the question of whether a homelessness applicant is entitled to request a review of suitability of accommodation after the period of 21 days from the offer. Carrier jointly heads the team with Lesley Curtis, who has expertise in bringing prosecutions under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, where housing conditions amount to a statutory nuisance.
Rebekah Carrier; Lesley Curtis
Other key lawyers:
- Acted for Ward and other claimants in Ward v Hillingdon LBC; this is one of two inter-linked judicial review challenges against a residence requirement in Hillingdon’s housing allocation scheme, which prioritised those with 10 years’ residence in the borough.
- Acted for the claimants in R (on the application of KS) v Haringey LBC; this was a judicial review application concerning action to be taken by the local authority where social services request assistance from the housing department where a child is at risk of serious harm due to unsuitable housing.
Russell-Cooke LLP has a strong commitment to legal aid work, in addition to advising clients on a private basis. Many of its clients are vulnerable, including victims of domestic violence and individuals with severe mental health difficulties. In addition to acting for private individuals, the team demonstrates strong capabilities advising tenant management organisations (organisations run by tenants for tenants) and housing co-operatives. It has been assisting families directly impacted by the Grenfell Tower fire with obtaining long-term/permanent housing, and is also representing a number of households in the inquiry into the disaster. The scope of its broader social housing practice is wide ranging, with the team advising clients on matters including disrepair, possession proceedings, homelessness reviews and appeals, and judicial review claims. Associate Caroline Brosnan has more than a decade of experience of the social housing sector. Another key figure is consultant Matilda Rubens, whose expertise includes homelessness cases that often involve domestic violence issues. Graham French heads up the practice.
- Assisting families directly impacted by the Grenfell Tower fire with obtaining long-term/permanent housing, and also representing a number of households in the inquiry into the disaster.
TV Edwards LLP
TV Edwards LLP is a first port of call for many clients facing housing-related emergencies, such as homelessness matters (where its work includes out-of-hours judicial review applications and urgent applications for injunctive relief) and instances where individuals face immediate harm. The firm also has a criminal legal aid contract with the Legal Aid Agency, and is well placed to assist individuals with housing matters involving alleged breaches of anti-social behaviour injunctions. Katie Brown, who jointly heads the practice with Jacky Starling, is experienced in acting for migrant families and children and adults with care needs. The team also includes Jenny Hunt, recently promoted associate solicitor Amanda Ford, and Jenny Mansell and Radhika Shah.
Katie Brown; Jacky Starling
Edwards Duthie Shamash
In June 2019, Edwards Duthie and Steel & Shamash merged to form Edwards Duthie Shamash. Its housing work forms a key part of a wider practice, which also encompasses social welfare issues such as mental health and community care. The team assists individual clients with obtaining access to social housing, and also provides advice on disrepair claims, unlawful evictions and possession proceedings. James Harrison is a specialist in homelessness and allocations. Other practitioners in the team include Simon Mullings, who has specialised in housing law for over 20 years, and Anna O’Connell. Sadikur Rahman has particular strengths in anti-social behaviour possession and injunction cases involving combined mental health illness and disability issues.
GT Stewart Limited, whose practice is led by Claire Wiles, covers a full range of social housing issues for clients, including unlawful evictions, possession cases, homelessness matters and judicial reviews. Dirghayu Patel, who holds Higher Court advocacy rights, is experienced in undertaking advocacy at the County Court. His housing law expertise is complemented by his knowledge of public law, human rights and community care. Denise Phillips and Susan Gronbach are other notable individuals in the team, whose clients include individuals with medical, social and/or mental health issues.
Hockfield & Co Solicitors
In addition to attracting its own mandates, Hockfield & Co Solicitors' excellent reputation for complex housing matters enables it to generate a significant amount of referral work from local councils, counsel and law centres. The firm has provided specialist housing law services throughout South London since 1975. Led by James Garvey, the team is particularly well known for its strong track record handling disrepair claims for social housing tenants and leaseholders under conditional fee agreements. It is also a strong performer in other disputes; its work for social housing tenants also includes contentious matters concerning succession rights, tenancy status and deposits. The group also advises leaseholders on service charge disputes and collective enfranchisement and leasehold extension cases. Garvey is supported by Sarah Mossop, who has more than 22 years of experience of the social housing arena. Associate solicitor Michael McCrone is also recommended.
- Acted for a Rent Act tenant in settling a possession claim.
- Acted for a housing association tenant in disrepair proceedings, which resulted in the resolution of longstanding water leakage problems and a payment of compensation to the client.
- Acted for a council tenant in disrepair proceedings, which resulted in the client being rehoused.
- Acted for a tenant in relation to a leak from a communal heating system into the tenant’s flat.