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Can my father sell his house?

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
5
My father has been in a care home since October 2019, following a severe fall that has rendered him immobile. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2018 (though had notable memory difficulties for a couple of years before). I have an LPA in place for both finances and health.

His short-term memory is largely non-existent now, however he calls me on a near daily basis (as care home closed to visitors) to ask what he should do with his house, which he owns outright, as he's understandably worried about it sitting empty. Due to C-19, I'm not able to facilitate a house sale at the moment, the house is full of stuff and it needs a bit of cosmetic work.

Long story short, my Dad keeps threatening to call estate agents / we buy any house himself to ask them to sell it. My head tells me the fact he is in a care home, and within 5 minutes any reasonable person would work out he's not got complete capacity, means he's unlikely to get very far with a sale. If an unscrupulous estate agent was so minded, however, could my Dad legally sell his own house without me? He doesn't have keys or remember his own bank account!
 

Palerider

Registered User
Aug 9, 2015
1,937
North West
watkin.observer
Hi @GMH24

I am just going through the same process of selling on mums behalf as LPA. It sounds from what you're saying that your dad is having difficulty recalling events or facts around his property and that calls into question his capacity on whether he could safely sell himself. Having the LPA enables you to take over this for him and he is rightly worried about it.

House sales are now moving forward so you could now take over and sell his house for him provided the LPA is valid. I wouldn't worry about cosmetic work to the house as it won't change the price unless its significant. There comes a point where you will have to take over and do what needs to be done, maybe now is that time? You don't seem to be under pressure to sell, so perhpas its time to have a think and then go from there. One thing is for certain your dad seems to have capacity on the fact the house needs to be sold if nothing else?? Do have any other family to talk to and decide with or is it best to act on your own?

I am sure others will be along soon to help out -good luck
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,418
South coast
Your dad might be able to get an unscrupulous estate agent, but dont forget that he would have to appoint a solicitor too and they are much more wary about capacity - even if he was able to carry through the process.

If your dad is not going to return to his house then it is better to sell it rather than leaving it empty and having to pay for insurance, ongoing repairs etc. As you have POA you can just take over and you can reassure him that it is all in hand.
 

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
5
Hi,

Thank you for the replies. I am happy to deal with selling the house on his behalf as I did the same for my Mum, I just cannot do it right now - I am the sole family member standing, I live 100+ miles away and I'm self-isolating as far as possible for medical reasons.

On any 10 minute phone call, my father can go between saying we must sell it immediately, to being reassured that the bills/heating/locks etc. are taken care of, to talking himself out of it because house prices are falling, to thinking he might want to go home, to not understanding why I would need to be involved, repeat x3 several times a week!

The solicitor point is reassuring me :)
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
13,418
South coast
TBH, @GMH24 , it doesnt sound to me as though your dad would actually be able to implement his idea of selling the house himself. It would require lots of steps of finding an estate agent, getting the number, deciding to phone, being able to tell them what they wanted to know etc etc. I honestly dont think he would be able to follow the process through even as far as finding an estate agent. I suspect that it will remain an idea of his, but never put into practise. It reminds me of mum who kept telling me that she was going to book herself a holiday, but never did. Just keep on reassuring him and saying - thats a good idea, I'll get it sorted for you (you dont have to actually do it!)
 

Pete1

Registered User
Jul 16, 2019
867
Hi @GMH24, it does sound as though Dad requires reassurance, and unfortunately that probably means going through the same situation time and again. I'm assuming there is no immediate need to sell to fund your Dad's care? It took me a little while to sell my Mum's property, which we put on the market when she first went into care, so it is worth bearing that in mind when considering Dad's financial position, although it is possible to get a deferred payment from the Local Authority (a charge on the property) if Dad's funds run low whilst trying to sell the property.

There were a couple of things that came the light that I hadn't realised when the property was empty - firstly we had to inform the insurers who required regular recorded visits to the property, and when the existing insurance expired we had to get specialist insurance, it was a bit more expensive but a pain to arrange. Also we were getting 100% Council Tax Relief and when Mum went into care that only continued for a limited period of time (I can't remember exactly) and then returned to full rate (not even the 25% single person discount), which I know makes absolutely no sense, but there you go.

I hope you are able to get things moving at a time that works for you, it isn't easy and I don't just mean the engagement of solicitors and estate agents - there is the house clearance and that can be quite emotional. I hope perhaps you can enlist some help with that. All the best.
 

Lynmax

Registered User
Nov 1, 2016
554
The fact that your dad does not have keys to the house would prevent any estate agent fron proceeding - they would not even get access to get the property details. or measure the rooms etc.
For the moment, all you can do is reassure him in the phone calls and try to distract him by changing the topic.
 

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
5
Thank you all, reassurance and distraction is the way to go and some very useful pointers for me to think about. In reality there is no immediate rush, which I have tried to explain to him before but a lot of the time it's easier to agree with whatever he's saying!
 

Mydarlingdaughter

Registered User
Oct 25, 2019
134
North East England UK
It sounds like you are in a very stressful situation.
Legally, the question of wheher Dad can sell his house would depend on if he has capacity. The fact that he is having conversations on the phone with you about it, would suggest tnat he does.
However as you pointed out you are the only person with the keys and practical matters would be beyond him I suspect.
Coronavirus restrictions on selling a house are lifted now but practically you are not yet able to help him. It sounds like he is anxious about it but at least it doesnt sound like he is seriuosly trying to go back there, which a lot of people in care homes are always asking to go home.
You have PoA so legally in his best interests you can istruct a solicitor, engage a house clearance service, if you need to you can also engage a professional cleaning service, decluttering service, whatever you need to delegate hands on to help you get it done. However if you are sheilding or self isolating for medical reasons you may just have to wait intil the right time.
The LPA gives you poeer to make decisions and arrange things on his behalf. What it does not do is act as a legal obligation enforcing you to do anything yo are not able. If you are unwell do you think it would be wise to stop acting as the attorney, this is possible if you felt you are no longer able. I'm including a link to the official gov. uk guidance
I hope you wont be offended, but often people think they dont have a choice. Even as his only relative, you dont have to do more than you feel able.
 

GMH24

New member
Jan 11, 2020
5
@Mydarlingdaughter I am not offended at all, in fact I'll be honest and say it has never crossed my mind to not automatically jump into the role of trying to do everything I can for my Dad. I feel some (or rather, a lot of) guilt that he is in a care home and I am far away, although it came after a couple of years of at-home carers, emergency hospital visits and panicked calls to banks/social services/neighbours, I feel I should always be doing more, but moving him down to me (or me to him) just isn't an option.

My instinct is I would still like to continue as stress-levels are lower now I at least know where he is and that he's being cared for 24/7 (and he can't go wandering!) and look at selling the house in a few months time when I'm able to physically go there. In the meantime I can at least do some research online regarding the services you've mentioned. The obligation point has certainly given me some food for thought.