Donna completed her professional examinations in 1994, before completing a further diploma in Landlord and Tenant Law in 1995. She attained fellowship as a Chartered Legal Executive in 1999.
Partner Head of Housing Management & Property Litigation
Areas of Expertise
Donna is Head of Devonshires’ Housing Management and Property Litigation department.
She has over 30 years’ experience advising on all aspects of housing management law and practice, acting for Local Authorities, Registered Providers and private landlords in complex litigation, including matters in the higher Courts and judicial review actions. She has particular expertise in advising and representing clients on Human Rights, Public Law and Equality Act challenges and following her successes in the higher Court cases of London and Quadrant HT v Patrick  EWHC 1263 (QB) and Forward v Aldwyck Housing Group  EWCA Civ 1334 is particularly noted for her expertise in dealing with claims relating to compliance with the Public Sector Equality Duty.
She regularly advises in respect of engagement with the Regulator of Social Housing, including compliance with the Consumer Standards as well as the impact of the shift to proactive consumer regulation. She has also advised social landlords in respect of adverse determinations made by the Housing Ombudsman and grounds for review.
She also has a strong track record advising housing and care providers in respect of regulatory compliance (both CQC and RSH), managing adverse incidents and enforcement action as well as advising on issues linked to resident management including housing benefit determinations and appeals; the operation of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards; safeguarding referrals and participation in safeguarding adults’ boards; mental capacity issues and multi-agency working. Donna also advises in respect of the operation of care contracts and management arrangements and any litigation that may arise in the event of dispute.
This sits alongside her non contentious practice where she advises on complex housing management issues and both reviews and drafts policy and procedure documentation and tenancy agreements.
Donna started her legal career in the in house legal team at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, combining part time studies with a mixed litigation practice including housing law. She qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 1994. Between 1994 and 1999 she worked as a specialist housing litigator, predominantly advising and representing tenants, having particular specialism representing those with mental capacity issues/other vulnerabilities.
Donna regularly contributes and writes articles, including our Housing Management Brief, as well as articles on upcoming legislative changes and sector updates.
Donna McCarthy is ranked as a Leading Individual for Social Housing: Local Authorities And Registered Providers in the Legal 500.
She is also ranked in Band 3 in Social Housing in Chambers and Partners
Donna regularly speaks at events and conferences as well as presenting webinars and providing training to clients on a broad range of matters. Examples include:
- Getting it right on damp and mould
- The rising challenge of anti-social behaviour – how to rebuild trust in our communities
- The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) – one year on. What does it mean for housing?
- An overview of claims under the Environmental Protection Act
- Managing Housing Conditions Claims
Donna is a keen reader and particularly enjoys anything related to modern social history. She is an enthusiastic if unskilled cook, who enjoys getting to the gym when she isn’t feeding people.
Donna is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.
She is passionate about providing opportunities to those from diverse backgrounds to enter the legal profession and she volunteers via Inspiring the Future, presenting in schools and college on legal career options.
Well regarded by her clients, recent feedback for Donna includes:
"Thanks for all your support on this Donna, you’ve been great!”
“Thank you so much for your guidance, support, assistance and patience.”
“Thank you for your excellent advice and Devonshires’ work on our cases over the years.”
“Thank you. As always your advice is spot on.”
“Thankfully we have one of the best in the trade – you!”
"Donna McCarthy is our lead legal advisor in the team and her passion for social housing never seems to diminish! Her support is always unwavering as is her ability to consider every minute detail of cases presented to her."
"All of the partners are very good; however, two stand out for me: Nick Billingham and Donna McCarthy."
Donna advised a number of landlords in respect of the information required by the RSH in respect of damp and mould, assisting them with drafting their responses and ensuring they were compliant with the Home Standard.
Donna is advising and representing a large housing and care provider in respect of operation of its’ parking schemes and whether, when taking account the needs of disabled residents, they are compliant with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.
Donna has recently advised two non-RP charities who provides housing, care and support in respect of their status and whether they are subject to selective licencing requirements and also their ability to use excluded licences in their ‘hostel’ accommodation.