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Can my elderly mother be forced to sell her house

(27 Posts)
Fastally Thu 29-Sep-16 19:42:00

My mothers partner has been diagnosed with Dimentia, left her and moved in with his son. My mother has been with her partner for over 20 years and cared for him post stroke for 14 years.

His family have now contacted my mother saying they wish to sell their house. My mother is close to 70 and does not wish to sell the house. The money from the house (50%) in its condition would not allow her to purchase another property.

We are worried his family can force a sale for any price (he has stated that he needs the money for holidays) and my mother would be homeless. The property is a joint tenancy but his family has stated they will contact the land registry and change this to common.

If anyone has experienced a similar situation the advice would be hugely appreciated.


LBOCS2 Thu 29-Sep-16 19:59:15

Does anyone in the family have power of attorney? Does he have a living will? I suspect that without those things they're on a hiding to nothing - if he's demonstrably not of sound mind, she can block 'his' actions and they don't have the right to take over his affairs without the correct documentation.

Was he put under pressure to move in with the son do you think? If they're taking advantage of a vulnerable person I would look at contacting social services.

Fastally Thu 29-Sep-16 20:22:00

Thanks for your reply.

I don't know if he has a will but they definitely don't have power of attorney. He still thinks he is all there and is sound of mind, doesn't acknowledge the dimentia which has only recently been diagnosed. He has not been in contact only his daughter in law. He really just wants half the money from the house to go on holidays.

My mother received a severance notice stating they are changing to common tenancy. He signed that letter.

I'm assuming they will be looking to force the sale but unsure of the steps they need to do and how we stop them or at least delay as much as possible.

yeOldeTrout Thu 29-Sep-16 20:33:50

I think PP is right, you could try contacting social services to raise your concerns that the man is under duress from his family. I think you need legal advice.

MrsBertBibby Thu 29-Sep-16 20:44:33

The severance, if upheld, would change your mum's position if he died, from becoming sole owner on his death to owning only half.

It might be wise to put his family on notice that you don't accept he has capacity, as if he doesn't, that severance is ineffective. As would any new will.

If they do get the ability to act either through a power of attorney (he may still have capacity, despite the diagnosis) or through the court of protection, then they can apply to the court for an order that the home be sold. I think there would be a fair chance they wouldn't succeed, as your mum needs a home, and he doesn't, but it's a complex area of law and you should really seek proper advice.

Fastally Thu 29-Sep-16 21:16:46

Thanks for the replies.

I would suggest that putting the family on notice sounds like what we should do. He has vascular dimentia so it might not be enough to say he is not sound of mind but definitely worth a shot as he is not being rational.

What is the process for undertaking this?

Should this be unsuccessful is there a method to block/ delay sales. I would like to be proactive rather than wait for letters to land from his family.

Thanks in advance

titchy Thu 29-Sep-16 21:29:03

The family or him if he's of sound mind would have to go to court to force a sale.

Is it possible to put a note on the land registry file saying you dispute the severance of the joint tenancy is genuine given his dementia?

stonecircle Fri 30-Sep-16 00:22:27

He needs to be careful. With dementia it's likely he will need to go into a care home at some point. I'm not sure where he would stand if he blew the proceeds of any sale on holidays. Isn't there something about deprivation of assets?

scaryteacher Fri 30-Sep-16 15:31:26

I think you need to engage a solicitor and get a letter written and some professional advice. If your Mum owns 50% of the property I fail to see how they can force her to sell without incurring huge legal costs on their part, as she owns that 50% free and clear.

Afaik, if he needs care, and the house isn't sold, they will put a charge on his half of the property, but hers remains hers iyswim. It will cost them to make her sell. Can she afford to buy him out at a discount at all?

fluffygal Fri 30-Sep-16 15:41:47

Social worker here- if they own the property jointly and she continues to live in it, his half is disregarded when it comes to paying for his care. They do not put a charge in his half of the home.
I would raise a safeguarding with the council so his capacity can be assessed professionally and any concerns that he is being forced to take this action can be looked into properly.

fluffygal Fri 30-Sep-16 15:43:12

If he want's money for holidays,can he loom at an equity release that would be charged to his half of the home upon sale?

Lorelei76 Fri 30-Sep-16 18:01:02

Your mum needs to get a solicitor
You don't mention the circumstances of the partner leaving, could it be that he is doing this to force a sale generally? I'm wondering if forcing a sale is what he wanted after the split full stop and not linked to his dementia.

I'm also wondering how he could change the tenancy without your mothers agreement. A lawyer is definitely needed here.

Fastally Fri 30-Sep-16 18:01:10

Thanks for all the messages. We have a meeting with a solicitor on Wednesday to see where we stand. Hopefully get on the front foot.

yeOldeTrout Fri 30-Sep-16 19:10:36

Let us know what solicitor says. I hope things work out ok for your Mam.

scaryteacher Sat 01-Oct-16 13:08:37

lorelei I think just serving a severance on the other joint tenant is how it is done.

Lorelei76 Sat 01-Oct-16 21:26:16

Scary, that is scary! Is there a way to say no?
I've never considered joint property to be acceptable so I might have known this in the past and just forgot.

fastdaytears Sat 01-Oct-16 21:32:53

If your Mum owns 50% of the property I fail to see how they can force her to sell without incurring huge legal costs on their part, as she owns that 50% free and clear

A joint owner can force a sale. OP's mum owns half the house but so does her exDP.

Severing a joint tenancy is often done unilaterally and it will be just as valid. You can't stop it.

If he has recently been diagnosed then he may well still have capacity but he might be being manipulated a lot. How did the separation come about?

fastdaytears Sat 01-Oct-16 21:34:09

Scary, that is scary! Is there a way to say no?
I've never considered joint property to be acceptable so I might have known this in the past and just forgot^

Nothing you can do to stop it. The ex DP is entitled to decide how his share should be dealt with. It will work out in the OP's favour if her mum outlives the ex.

fastdaytears Sat 01-Oct-16 21:34:43

Sorry if mum dies before. Sorry so tired! Let's home Wednesday's solicitor makes more sense than I am!

Lorelei76 Sat 01-Oct-16 22:11:22

Fast, I didn't mean the forced sale
I meant the change of tenancy particularly

scaryteacher Sat 01-Oct-16 22:25:38

Fast I know a sale can be forced, but it will be expensive with the legal costs to achieve it, and who is going to buy a property when one party doesn't want to sell and can hold up the process? We are in the midst of a difficult tenants in common situation ourselves, and it won't even start to be resolved until the difficult party dies, and not even then, depending what post mortem tricks she leaves for us.

fastdaytears Sun 02-Oct-16 00:47:26

Lorelei sorry to hear that. Sounds like a nightmare. This should be a lot easier than a tenant who won't move and cost of the application would end up being shared, but the ex or his family would have to fund them initially. Let's hope that's enough to put them off.

fastdaytears Sun 02-Oct-16 00:49:33

Sorry it's Scary with the nightmare tenant. sad

Fastally Mon 03-Oct-16 10:06:14

Thanks for the messages.

My mothers partner has been mentally abusive for years and only recently started threatening her with physical abuse, this is common with Vascular Dementia i've read. Especially to people who you are close with.

Eventually he walked out with a toothbrush and the clothes on his back shouting abuse and has not been back since. All correspondence now is through his family who have taken him in.

His family are fairly well off so they have more money to burn on this than ours and my mother.

Hopefully the solicitor on Wednesday can provide some guidance/ assurance as it is affecting my mothers health which worries me most.

scaryteacher Tue 04-Oct-16 17:10:58

fastday Nightmare tenant in common also known as mil!

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