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Squatters in my Aunt's empty property (long, sorry)

(6 Posts)
Tartyflette Tue 20-Oct-15 18:52:47

My 95 yr old aunt (my late uncle's widow) has been in residential care for nearly three years and her local Council/SS property protection unit changed the locks on her house over a year ago as there will be a charge on the property from the council from her estate after her death. (For care fees).

I do not know anything about her financial affairs, she is a very private person. She has no children of her own and i have been her unofficial next of kin for hospital appointments etc but i did not want to take on looking after her financial affairs as i felt it was none of my business. SS wanted me to go to the Court of Protection with all that entails. She does not have dementia, although she can get confused and I did not want to have to tell her I was taking over her affairs. It didn't seem right. So I think they were going to do it although i have no idea whether it has gone through. Do they have to inform relatives if they do go for guardianship/COP?

Today her neighbour phoned to say the curtains had been pulled together and she was concerned. (She keeps an eye on the house.) I got in touch with SS who could not get much info from their property protection unit but informed the police who went round and said someone has entered by smashing a window, then covering the break with piece of cardboard. It seems the police did enter the property but suspect someone was in there.

Is the council at fault at all for not actually doing much at all to protect the property, other than unnecessarily changing the locks? Prior to that, we would go round very few weeks (live about 45 mins away) to check on things, pick up the post, tidy the garden. We also put timers on some lights. After they changed the locks there did not seem to be much point.

it feels that we have been deliberately kept out of the loop and wonder who now might be liable for evicting squatters and making good any damage. Can any legal eagles /local council people tell me what SS should have been doing and who might be responsible for any costs? Grateful for any info.

Tartyflette Tue 20-Oct-15 18:58:15

Sorry, the police did NOT enter the property....

coffeeisnectar Tue 20-Oct-15 18:59:26

I have no idea but you can't say you wanted nothing to do with her finances and then complain about being kept out of the loop.

I would presume the council have taken control with the change of locks and it would be their responsibility now as its been effectively moved out of your control by a) your refusal to get a COP and b) by them locking you out by changing the locks.

I'd suggest contacting the council's property department as a start and find out who is dealing with it.

LIZS Tue 20-Oct-15 19:04:19

Are you the next of kin ? Why has the property not been sold in the interim, surely it will have deteriorated while unoccupied. Is it insured?

JeffsanArsehole Tue 20-Oct-15 19:08:02

Firstly it's not squatting, it's burglary and the police need to secure or get the council to secure the property.

If it was squatters that window would be fixed by now wink or they would have got in by an open window etc

Tartyflette Tue 20-Oct-15 21:57:45

Thank you everyone for your replies.

As to whether I am officially her next of kin, i don't know. As far as hospitals go, we agreed that I was NOK the last time she was in hospital because it meant that the medics could tell me about her condition. But does that have any legal standing? She has nephews and nieces, (by marriage) of whom I am the closest geographically. She also has second cousins.

I didn't want to get involved in her finances as I felt it was inappropriate and possibly intrusive - I did not want to raise the subject with her in case it upset or offended her. As i said she is a very private person and I know little about her personal affairs. But i do feel someone should look out for her interests and I have not seen any evidence that the council or SS is doing much.

i presume the property had not been sold because the council was happy to sit on it for the time being. And they would have to go to the COP first and I do not know whether this has happened.

(When I was involved in sorting out my DM's affairs I had to inform at least three other relatives, in writing, when i registered the Enduring Power of Attorney for her. They could object if they felt it appropriate. But no-one has been in touch with me from the COP or the council. So I wondered if that was a also requirement under those cicumstances, i.e. to inform relatives if a legal process was taking place.)

The window was definitely broken, then covered over with a sheet of cardboard/plywood according to the neighbour who spoke to the police. i will get back on to the Council/SS tomorrow about securing the property properly.

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