A question on legal aspect of moving into fathers house?

Discussion in 'Legal and financial issues' started by James1970, Jul 18, 2019.

  1. James1970

    James1970 New member

    Jul 18, 2019
    4
    Hello everyone, first time poster here. I was advised by a friend to come here as apparently he has received excellent advice so here's hoping!!

    My father now resides in a care home with vascular dementia. He self funds and is very comfortable financially and fortunately the care home he is in is excellent and dad seems to have settled very well. I am dads only child and have Power of Attorney.

    Unfortunately I was made redundant some weeks ago and am in a bit of a struggle financially and at the moment can't see too many ways out. A friend suggested to me that I could rent my home out and move into dads empty home and be the "caretaker" so to speak. it's quite a big house and dad keeps telling me he doesn't want to sell it and could I look after it. However whilst the rental income from mine would be a great help I am not sure of any legal angle on this and if it were possible who would be responsible for bills etc because at the moment dad's finances cover things like water, electricity, gas, house insurance etc. Obviously I could maintain it and the gardens but as I say am totally unaware on any legal angle and cannot find anything similar on the internet.

    Thoughts and advice would be much appreciated.
     
  2. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    18,828
    Male
    North Manchester
    Sorry, you would have to pay your father a fair rent which may be more or less than you can get by renting out your property.
     
  3. James1970

    James1970 New member

    Jul 18, 2019
    4
    Thank you I thought that may be the case and I suspect along with dads bills along with rent that would come to more than the rent I would get for my house.
     
  4. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,739
    Salford
    Hi James, welcome to TP
    I'd warn anyone about becoming an "accidental landlord".
    Before you rent your house out and this is just the tip of the iceberg, you do realise you'll have to pay income tax on the income generated and any income may affect any benefits you may be entitled to until you get back in work.
    Before you rent the house out you'll have to have all the gas and electrical system tested and a PAC test done on any electrical appliances. As a landlord you'll be responsible for an annual gas boiler check and should it or any part of the heating or hot water system break for the cost of the repairs.
    Unless you uses a letting agent you'll have to establish the tenant has the legal right to be in the UK (even if it's a family member) and document that and if you take a deposit you'll have to register with one of the approved deposit schemes and pay the money to them, if you fail to do so and tell the tenant which scheme it is, in writing, and on time then you can be fined anything up to 3 time the deposit plus the deposit itself and that all goes to the tenant.
    As an LPA you're not supposed to benefit financially and stupid as it is, but if your dad had capacity he might well want to help you like any parent would but as you're an LPA doing what he would want conflicts with your obligation not to benefit financially.
    Personally I think you moving in to his house is an excellent idea, when my mum's house was empty I had to pay a fortune for "empty house insurance", all the utility bills still came in and the standing charges were still quite significant and in the end when evidence of drinking and drug taking was found in the garden I just got rid of the place.
    As an only child you don't really have to answer to anyone but as an LPA you do, you could as the Court of Protection what they thought, you move back in on the grounds of security, insurance and the maintenance of the house but pushing it to covering the utility bills from his money might be a step too far although so much of utility bills these days is made up from standing charges and not usage and in winter a house will need heating to a certain level occupied or not.
    It's strange how the best thing all round isn't what you're allowed to do, if you do as nitram says and pay a correct amount of rent then your dad would have to pay income tax on the rent you paid as well as you (possibly) having to pay income tax on the rent from your home.
    You could ask the CoP what they thought but do it on the grounds of house maintenance, security, insurance and whatever else and downplay how it may benefit you without of course ever telling anything less than the whole truth when asked.
    Any house left empty should have all the valuables removed and that means storage costs...there are endless good reasons why moving in would be the best solution for him and if it benefits you too then why not if the CoP would agree.
    K
     
  5. James1970

    James1970 New member

    Jul 18, 2019
    4
    Many thanks Kevinl, wow what a minefield it is. I guess the difficultly which I forgot to mention is that dad has lost capacity although we still have many a day when we have serious conversations which is when he asked me to look after his house. Obviously I took that as just regularly visiting, mowing the lawns, cutting back the shrubs etc, keeping an eye on and maintaining the place which I know you cannot bizarrely charge for which is strange in itself because if I got someone else in to do it dad would have to pay it for it!! I have heard many stories about this COP and whilst I fully understand it is there to protect people like dad so to speak it seems also that it can hamstring families who want to make decisions to the benefit of the donor (ie in this case dad). On the one hand it says it wants to protect a donors finances but on the other hand the COP and solicitors charge a fortune to either give the "obvious" thumbs up to an application or rule against it thus technically protecting the donor but at the same time going against their wishes!! Plus it seems to render my dads solicitors and financial advisor defunct and pretty useless when they themselves are unable to answer a simple question on whether a decision you want to make as a POA is ok or not. But they will reap the financial rewards when telling you to make an application to the COP via them!!! Sorry I'll get off my soap box!

    I've done a bit of number crunching and doing it "properly" so to speak would probably leave me worse off financially. Dad's council tax (not paying it at the moment as he is in care) for instance is double mine, as are his energy bills. Dad in a proper rental situation would probably get around 2200 per month before any fees etc and my house is not even half it's size so I would probably get say 1000 if lucky before any fees and that's not taking into account the money that needs to spent on mine to make it rentable. Taking into account as you say income tax, rental fees, utility bills and the like I very much doubt it's doable. Plus dad's needs work on the bathrooms etc and I suspect whilst you could get them done if selling or renting to someone else if you were to get them done with you living there does it then also come under the category of you benefitting yourself?!

    As I say it's an absolute minefield. I am sure that a high percentage of family members would in hindsight refuse to take on Power of Attorney if they knew how the simplest thing could make you be treated like a criminal.

    I think my only three options are to either let it sit empty, sell or rent to someone else - all three which are against my fathers wishes!
     
  6. silversea2020

    silversea2020 Registered User

    May 12, 2019
    81
    I was in a similar position to you with my mothers house. I had POA - I promised to take care of her house and she told me not to sell it. The house was 25 miles away from my home - I regularly went over - most weeks, mowed lawns - ensured heating on in winter months, however, it just got to the point that I could not sustain doing this on my own when working, looking after my granddaughter and running my own home - I couldn’t be superwoman continually!!!! I did not want the complications of renting either so went ahead and sold mom’s house - I never told her I was selling it because it would have upset her greatly .....sometimes you just have to do what’s best in the circumstances - I felt extremely guilty doing it but it was a relief when it was sold - sometimes ‘you gotta do, what you gotta do’
     
  7. jugglingmum

    jugglingmum Registered User

    Jan 5, 2014
    5,027
    Female
    Chester
    Your father no longer has capacity and is never going to live in it again.

    Part of the role of POA is to take decisions because the person is no longer capable, not what they might have wanted when well, but what is in their best interests.

    My mum expressed a wish to live with me, she doesn't - for lots of reason it wouldn't have worked - she is in sheltered extra care - and much happier than if she lived with me. I know not a financial decision but I still had to do what was right.

    If families don't take on POA then the state does and they would most certainly get on and sell your father's house.
     
  8. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,869
    Female
    South coast
    Hi @James1970
    If you want to ask the CoP what they think you may not have to go for a full formal hearing.
    When I sold mums bungalow there were a couple of unusual situations and I did not know what the court would think, so I phoned them up and asked them if what I was planning was OK. I discovered that (unlike many helplines) the people who answer are helpful and knowledgable. They were able to say that what I was planning was OK, so I went ahead and did it with a clear conscience and I didnt have to pay any solicitors or anything.

    Get in contact with the Office of Public Guardians
    Telephone 0300 456 0300 - Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm
    Email customerservices@publicguardian.gsi.gov.uk
     
  9. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    18,828
    Male
    North Manchester
    As has been pointed out you have a legal duty to act in your father's best financial interests, leaving the house empty would not be doing this.

    You have two options, sell or rent.

    The OPG/COP do not give advice, they only state the legal position which is that you have authority to either rent or sell the house and that you have to act in your father's best interests.

    Personally I would set about clearing the house and putting it on the market.
     
  10. James1970

    James1970 New member

    Jul 18, 2019
    4
    Wow thank you all for your input. I spoke to an estate agent today who said that to sell right now is not the best financial climate to be selling and his opinion was to at least wait 6 months and see what the markets are doing. So that's probably what I will do and see how things go in the market over the next few months. That will give me some time anyway to see what I do with all of dads things. This "decisions not to benefit the attorney" situation. How does this apply to dad's things? If there are pieces of sentimental value or furniture that is far too good to throw out or get a clearance company to take away for instance are family allowed to keep them or is that seen as a no no?
     
  11. silversea2020

    silversea2020 Registered User

    May 12, 2019
    81
    You deal with things as you see fit. Some of mums personal things were kept safely by me - I kept a piece of furniture - some furniture was collected by a charity - I then hired a skip for the weekend and cleared the house completely - it was a horrible thing to have to do but it had to be done - at least you’ll have time to sift through things .....I was meticulous with all paperwork/documents and only discarded the rubbish - I had a large box file etc it - there was so much to go through
     
  12. nitram

    nitram Registered User

    Apr 6, 2011
    18,828
    Male
    North Manchester
    #12 nitram, Jul 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
    Personally I'd ignore the estate agent and sell now, job done- move on

    I'd also not worry too much about house contents, they probably do not have that much intrinsic value in the scale of things, just keep, sell, put in skip as you feel fit.
     
  13. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    4,739
    Salford
    General thoughts are why is an estate agent turning away business? Is it in the hope the market will bounce back after Brexit, what if it doesn't what if it gets worse, personally I have a bad feeling about thee housing market particularly in London and the south east, time will tell.
    The costs of having the house sat there empty will add up, insurance, standing charges for all the utilities means that time will cost money let alone anything you have to do o keep the place clean gardening and all that lot.
    If you can have a look at his will, it may be he's left the silver tea service to cousin Nigel and the picture over the fire to auntie Mavis or something like that, if you've give it to a charity shop it's a bit late when they read the will out to do anything about it.
    I watch the Antiques Roadshow and Trash in the Attic and shows like that and I see some piece of "tat" that I wouldn't give house room to turn out to be incredibly rare and sell for £20k, so I'd get a local auction house to come in and have a look at everything, personally I can't tell diamonds from paste copies or real pearls from fake ones and even some "modern classics" like 1970's furniture change hands for silly money these days.
    Last thing is search the place, you need all the paperwork relating to pensions, insurance policies, previous employers anything that on his death may pay out.
    You also need to search for cash, I did a house clearance for my cousin (he wasn't happy to do it himself) and I started to turn up hidden cash, put in the pocket of coats in a wardrobe, stitched into the lining of clothes, taped to the underside of draws, you name it in total I found nearly £8,000, a similar search in my mum's house turned up about £2,500 but that was only what I found it was hidden so cunningly that I'll never know how much I missed. These weren't rich people and it was around the time of the bank crash so I think they got together and decided this was a good idea to have a bit of cash handy for a rainy day.
    Empty houses sell for less than lived in ones and the longer it's empty and the sadder it starts to look against a hoped for increase in the market...personally I'd get rid, but that's just my view.
    K
     
  14. Normaleila

    Normaleila Registered User

    Jun 4, 2016
    653
    I'd put it up for sale now. My aunt went into a care home in May 2017. Sale was completed at the end of August.
    She was never going back there, the money would be needed for her care, and I didn't want to be responsible for it through the winter. Especially as I live 100 miles away. It's hard work and very emotional but it's better done sooner rather than later in my opinion.
    Before it went on sale I brought home all paperwork, albums, etc, for sorting. I also removed dead pot plants, sponges, flannels, toothbrushes, doilies, etc to de-personalise it.
    Then family members chose small items as mementos - a pot plant, a clock, some records...
    My husband, teenage grandson and I then did a two night trip - staying in a hotel. I booked an 8 ton skip for delivery the day we arrived. We also had a charity visit but they only took a couple of items. We filled the skip by 4, so I phoned and arranged for it to be collected and replaced with another. We filled that as well! We also did numerous trips to the local charity shop. My grandson was so helpful - he can run up and down stairs 10 times in an hour and if I hesitated over an item he'd tell me whether it should go in the skip or to the charity shop.
    On a second visit we filled another skip, visited the charity shop and finally found my aunt's 'lost' rings.
    I was very practical and focused - but I cried as we drove away for the last time. I felt like a murderer but 2 years on I know I did the right thing.
    Warning: make sure you don't bring any clothes moths to your own home - easily done.
     
  15. Rosettastone57

    Rosettastone57 Registered User

    Oct 27, 2016
    911
    I agree with @Kevinl . With my mother-in-law house,we sold it asap.
     
  16. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    I too agree with @Kevinl The property market isn't great at the moment but I very much doubt it will be better in six months' time, it's more likely to be even worse.

    I cleared my mother's flat a fortnight after she moved to a care home. I never told her anything about it, and she never asked. As others have said, you have to do what is best for the person in their current circumstances.
     
  17. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    6,917
    Suffolk
    Hi Sirena, the property market round here is very buoyant at the moment, and prices have gone up again. So I would tell anyone to sell now.
     
  18. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    @Spamar there are a lot of properties for sale here and prices look high - but few are selling whereas in previous years they would go quickly. So I wouldn't call it buoyant here, depends on the area and the property I expect. But that's irrelevant really for the OP - if you need to sell, you have to go ahead and see what you can do.
     
  19. Max68

    Max68 Registered User

    Aug 21, 2018
    56
    Male
    Sussex
    Your lucky James in many ways that it's just you. I personally want to sell mum's house as renting seems a major pain but my sister who is also POA doesn't want to sell, so it's just sitting there at the moment with energy, phone, water bills etc being paid with no-one in it!!

    Funnily enough I actually looked into renting mine out and moving in to mums just as you but as others say it comes down to paying a fair rent etc and it becomes more trouble than it's worth. It's quite sobering really that the house you grew up in stops being your home at 16 in the eyes of the law!!
     
  20. Elle3

    Elle3 Registered User

    Jun 30, 2016
    603
    I agree with all the others, whether the housing market is buoyant or not, August time is usually a good time to sell a property as this is when it can look it's best and the sale should generally go through before Christmas, waiting another 6 months seems strange advice as we do not know what the repercussions of Brexit will be. Have you sought the advice from more than one agent?

    I sold my dad's house last August within a week and the completion was early October. My dad's house had no heating and I discovered no insurance and I really did not want the responsibility of leaving it empty for such a long time, so for me it was a no brainer.
     

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