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Ward Hadaway's team of social housing lawyers carry a diverse wealth of knowledge and experience in the sector.

Over the past number of years the team has expanded dramatically. We are now based across the firm’s three offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester and are currently supporting Social Housing clients across the country.

Let us introduce the team…

Simon Thirtle

Simon Thirtle

Simon is Head of the Housing Management Team and leads the Social Housing Litigation Team. Simon’s interest in social housing started at university when he was working for a Leeds based housing association alongside his studies.

What is your favourite thing about practicing in social housing? “There are too many to pick just one – but I really enjoy the variety of the work (every day is different!) and the interaction we have with our clients in helping them to make a difference for their customers.”

What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer? “I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 14 so it’s difficult to remember a time when I might have wanted to do something else! But I still harbour hopes of being a Formula 1 World Champion…”

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John Murray

John is a Partner in our Social Housing Litigation team and has recently moved to the Newcastle office to grow the team in the North East. He joined Ward Hadaway 9 years ago and says his favourite aspect about working in the sector is the clients and professionals he works alongside. For him, social housing is a great mix of law, policy and human stories.

What made you want to practice in Social Housing? ” A desire to use the law as part of a sector that  improves people’s lives … that may sound a bit lofty but I was young and idealistic!  (Now I’m old and idealistic).”

What is something interesting people should know about you?I may have powers of prediction and could possibly be an insightful political pundit. In 1983 I introduced my friend Keir Starmer to my Mum as a “future Labour Prime Minister”. This was meant as a joke but I’m currently waiting to see if I am actually the 21st century Nostradamus.”

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Melanie Dirom

Melanie Dirom

Melanie is a Director in our Manchester office and joined Ward Hadaway in 2021.  She has acted for Social Housing clients for more than 19 years.

What do you enjoy about being a Social Housing lawyer? “I love working with clients to find a resolution to the problems they are facing. Our cases always have a real life backstory underpinning them.”

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? “I love putting the bike on the back of the campervan and getting out into the fresh air.”

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Sally Popplewell

Sally joined the firm as a Solicitor in February 2020 and is currently based in the Leeds office. Before coming to the firm Sally worked for a social housing landlord, as a legal officer.

What is one of your favourite parts of your job? I enjoy helping clients achieve favourable results in housing disrepair claims and find negotiating a settlement particularly rewarding, especially as housing disrepair is such a topical issue for many of our clients.”

What is something that’s on your bucket list? “My bucket list is long… but at the top is to take my children to see the Taj Mahal. We will get there one day!”

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Sarah Lambert

Sarah is a Solicitor and joined the firm in December 2021 to work alongside John Murray in the Newcastle office to assist with the expansion of the team in the North East.  Sarah qualified as a Solicitor in September 2020 and before joining the firm worked for 8 months specialising in property work for social housing clients at an international commercial firm.

Are there any areas of social housing that you have particular interests in? “I enjoy working on disrepair cases as it requires technical knowledge; is very fast paced; and involves balancing commerciality versus reputational risk to the client.”

What is your favourite courtroom drama? “My favourite courtroom drama is “A Few Good Men” – “you can’t handle the truth” has to be one of the most famous film lines of all time!”

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Kathryn Bullen

Kathryn is a Solicitor based in the Manchester Office. Kathryn qualified as a solicitor in July 2021 and recently joined from a firm specialising in housing legal aid work.

Why did you choose to qualify into social housing? I initially had interest in the issue of homelessness and the provision of affordable housing of which is a scarce resource, in particular in Manchester. From this I chose to study housing law at university, choosing it as an elective and my area of law in the Student Law Office (SLO). I immediately took an interest in the growing role of housing associations in providing housing and serving communities.”

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? “I enjoy running, reading, playing football, drawing and attending gigs.”

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Amanda Old

Amanda has recently qualified as a Solicitor, which she describes as her ‘proudest achievement yet after 6 years of hard work’, and she can’t wait to continue her career in the Leeds Housing Team.

Are there any areas of social housing that you have particular interests in? “Whilst I am passionate about social housing generally, I have a particular interest in anti-social behaviour. Helping to secure a positive resolution for the victims of ASB is incredibly rewarding.”

What’s your idea of a perfect day? “My perfect day would involve food and sunshine, so it’d most likely consist of meeting friends or family for a pub lunch on a sunny day.”

Alastair Bloor

Alastair is a Paralegal based in the Leeds office, and completed his degree at Newcastle University.

Are there any areas of social housing that you have particular interest in? “I find litigation surrounding anti-social behaviour, and the challenge of enforcing behavioural covenants generally, fascinating.”

Who is your legal hero? “In the real world? – Clarence Darrow… Of all time? – Easy, Santa’s Lawyer in Miracle on 34th Street.”

Naoise Webster

Naoise is a trainee in the Newcastle office who joined the firm in September 2021. Naoise studied at Newcastle University and UPF, Barcelona.

What were your first impressions of the Social Housing team at Ward Hadaway?The first thing that struck me about the Social Housing team is how down to earth and approachable everyone is. The team are completely plugged into the sector and their clients’ needs.”

What is an interesting fact about yourself? “I was effectively raised in a circus… My Dad is a circus performer and runs a circus school in Belfast. He taught me to walk on stilts when I was eight. I then became a professional stilt-walking performer when I was 16 which was a super fun way to earn pocket money!”

Our housing management team forms part of our firm’s wider social housing group and has more than 80 years’ experience combined, supporting Registered Providers of varying sizes across the country. Their in-depth knowledge is shared with clients in the sector through a variety of value added services.

Value added services

Speed Read

Our weekly update on essential housing law and policy news, delivered to your inbox each Monday. Sign up here.

Housing Management Law School

Twice a year, the School delivers training to Registered Providers of Social Housing across the country, educating and update housing management staff with the legal knowledge that they need.

In a format which mixes learning with networking, experts from Ward Hadaway and invited special guest tutors deliver:

  • comprehensive updates on latest developments and news affecting the sector
  • a special focus on a Hot Topic of the moment
  • a Revision Session looking in-depth at frequently encountered situations
  • an interactive Q&A session allowing you to quiz the experts

Click here to be added to our mailing list.

Teams Forum

The housing management team at Ward Hadaway host an online Teams forum covering a range of issues, allowing you to ask us or your colleagues in the sector questions pertaining to your day-to-day housing matters.

Click here to sign up.

Northern Housing Consortium leasehold, disrepair and ASB forums

In partnership with the NHC we run regular forums on leasehold, disrepair and ASB. Network with members of the Ward Hadaway team, along with colleagues from NHC and the wider sector whilst discussing the hot topics of the and gain valuable insight on how to deal with legal challenges.

Click here to sign up.

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