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19 Community care
8. Will I have to sell my home?
The council may include the value of your home (or your share of it) when deciding how much (if anything) you have to pay for care, but this depends on who lives in it. If the council does decide to take account of the value of your home, and this takes the total of your capital to over £20,500 if you live in England, or £21,000 if you live in Wales, then you will have to pay all your care-home fees. If you can't pay for your care-home fees out of savings or other money, you may need to sell your home.
However, the value of your home will not count if someone close to you lives in it. This includes:
The council may 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, the council may judge the value of your share to be low. If this were the case, there would be little difference to the fees you must pay.
Your home's value is also ignored if you are going into a care home temporarily.
Even if the value of your home is counted, it is not included in any calculations for the first 12 weeks after you take up a permanent place in a care home.
If you would need to sell your home to pay for care, you may not have to do this straight away if you can agree to 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. It then reclaims the money you owe when the property is eventually sold (or 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.
How can I be forced to sell my home?
You cannot be forced to sell your home without a court order. 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.
If you do have to sell your home, you may be able to get benefits to help you pay care fees until it is sold (see 'What benefits may I be able to claim?' below). 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 leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Sue Bloomfield, a freelance consumer affairs writer.
The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.
Leaflet Version: May 2019