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Community Care: Will I have to sell my home?

For some people, the value of their home alone will take them over the capital limits and they will have to pay care-home fees. If this is the case for you, you may need to sell your home to pay those fees, if you can’t pay them from your savings or other money.

But there are circumstances when the council cannot take the value of your home into account, in particular if someone close to you lives in it. This includes:

  • your husband, wife, civil partner or other partner (or, in some cases, your former partner);
  • a relative who is 60 or over;
  • a relative under 60 who is ‘incapacitated’ (for example, someone who is receiving a sickness or disability benefit); or
  • a child or step-child of yours under 16 who you support.

The council may choose to ignore the value of your house if someone who doesn’t fit into these categories lives there – for example, a carer who is under 60.

If you own your home jointly with someone who does not fit into any of the categories above (for example, a relative under 60 or a friend), your share has to be valued. But if the person who owns your home with you won’t or can’t buy your share from you, so you could not turn your share into cash, the value of your share in cash terms may be low. If this is the case, taking the value of your share into account won’t mean you have to contribute a lot more to your care-home fees.

The council will ignore the value of your home if you are going into a care home for a temporary stay.

Even if it takes the value of your home into account in the long term, the council won’t include it in any calculations for the first 12 weeks after you take up a permanent place in a care home.

If you need to sell your home to pay for care, you may not have to do this straight away if you can agree a ‘deferred payment’ arrangement with the council. In this case, the council puts off collecting your contribution, and puts a ‘legal charge’ on your property instead. This means it will then reclaim the money you owe when the property is eventually sold (or when the value of your estate is sorted out after you die). Your local social services department will be able to give you more information about this.

Only a court can force you to sell your home. But if you don’t sell, and you end up owing fees to the council, it can put a ‘legal charge’ on your property without your permission. The legal charge means that when your home is eventually sold, the council will be able to collect the fees you owe it.

If you do have to sell your home, you may be able to get benefits to help you pay care fees until the sale goes through (see ‘Can I claim any benefits if I am in residential care?’). And if your property takes some time to sell, the council may put off collecting any fees from you until you have sold it.

This content is subject to Crown Copyright

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Community Legal Advice
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