New means test guidelines for property – your home could now be safe

New means test guidelines for property – your home could now be safe

New means test guidelines for property – Relative's Property Disregard guidelinesThe Dept. of Health has issued new Relative’s Property Disregard guidelines.

This is in response to a recent court case about means test guidelines for property: A daughter successfully stopped the value of her mother’s house being included in care fees means testing.

It means other people may now be able to stop their own family home having to be sold to pay for care.

Let’s assume for the moment that your mother or your father needs full time care in a care home and also owns a property.

Let’s also assume for the moment that your parent is not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding and that they have to pay for their own care.

Ordinarily, there are certain circumstances in which your parent’s property could be disregarded from means testing.

(By ‘disregarded’ we mean protected from being taken to pay care fees and disregarded under Para 2(b)(ii) of Schedule 4 to the National Assistance (Assessment of Resources) Regulations 1992. )

These circumstances include a situation where:

  • your parent’s spouse or partner still lives at the property
  • another relative over 60 lives there
  • a younger relative still lives there who is incapacitated
  • your parent’s former partner (divorced or estranged) still lives there and is a lone parent with a child under 18
  • another of your parent’s children lives there and is under 18
  • a relative over 60 lives there (or in some circumstances a friend who has been caring for your parent for some time and for whom the property has become their home)
  • another person owns a share of the property and does not want to sell

However, there is now a new circumstance in which the property can be disregarded from means testing…

New means test guidelines for property – Relative’s Property Disregard guidelines

In February 2014, Glen Walford brought a case against Worcestershire County Council. She successfully argued that her family home should not be included in any means testing for her mother’s care costs.

The key issue was whether the property was Miss Walford’s main or only home. The High Court judgement concluded that a ‘home’ is a place to which a person has a degree of attachment both physical and emotional.

However, emotional attachment may not be enough on its own; the degree of occupation of the property by a relative is crucial, and yet this occupation does not have to be all the time.

For example, someone who travels a lot, or who is posted overseas as part of their job, but considers the property still their main home, and returns regularly where possible, could now claim the property is their main home, even if they rent other properties in the meantime.

Similarly, someone with a nomadic lifestyle who does not have their own home elsewhere and who considers the property somewhere they will eventually come back to, could also potentially argue that the property should be disregarded in means testing.

Essentially this means that ‘occupation’ is not the same as physical presence, i.e. you don’t have to actually physically live at the property all the time to ‘occupy’ the property.

These new Relative’s Property Disregard guidelines – new means test guidelines for property – also highlight that local authorities should take account of a family member’s changing circumstances in this respect.

Also, there is no need for a relative to have been occupying the property before the person needed care; the purpose of the move will be considered, and also to ensure that a family member does not become homeless if the property is included in means testing.

However, in all this there is of course one vital point to remember:

Issues of mean testing and property disregard are secondary to assessments for NHS Continuing Healthcare; where a person needs full time care on account of health needs, a Continuing Healthcare assessment should be carried out first, before the health and social care authorities ask any questions about a person’s money or property assets.

Read the new Relative’s Property Disregard guidelines here.

Read more about NHS Continuing Healthcare funding for full time care.


Since this article was originally published, Worcestershire County Council appealed the decision and, unfortunately for the family, the Council won. It means that the property can now be taken into account in means testing. The Court of Appeal decided that a relative must actually be resident at a property at the time a person goes into care in order for the property to be disregarded in the means test. This will come as a blow to many families in a similar position.


  1. Carl 2 months ago

    Hi I’m 42 have been my grandmother’s primary carer for many years I have lived in her house witch she owns all my adult life. I have a partner and 3 year child social services want us to place my grandmother in a care home as her dementia has got to a stage where its very hard to look after her at home even with a care package, does this mean we while be left homeless ??

  2. Wendy 3 months ago

    Question from Wendy: My friends mum is 90 with dementia and vascular dementia and I have moved in with her to care for her I was living at my boyfriends house that he owns and we have now split up . I do and have done for many years suffered with mental health problems . I look after mum 24/7 and would have nowhere to go if the house was to be sold . We pay an amount for her care please can you advise me as I’m so worried

  3. Angie 10 months ago

    We are being means tested re help with care fees at home or day centre called direct payments.
    I look after my husband full time he has Alzheimer’s diagnosed 2009. They are taking a property my husband owns a quarter of in the equation – so it takes him over the limit – as we cannot sell this asset unless the other two owners buy him out which they do not want to do surely this should be disregarded ? Which I have pointed out but they still insist on including this in the means test.
    I am desperate for some respite as is my husband from me.

  4. mike 10 months ago

    Hi – I have one question, my father put the house in a deed of trust with myself and brother and i have been living in the house for a number of years looking after my father who’s now in a care home self funding at the moment. Would this situation definately keep the house out of the local authorities hands?

  5. Phyll 1 year ago

    Does the relative who resides there , still have to be 60yrs or over, or is age not now relevant ?

    • Nick Hill 10 months ago

      I’m 53 and was caring for my mother in her own home for three years, before she went into full time residential care.
      The council has just notified me (Jan 2018) that the property WILL BE DISREGARDED in any means assessment, as long as I continue to live in it as my only home.
      The important factors are things like when and why you moved in and would you be homeless if required to leave.
      Justice does indeed appear to have been served, at least in my case!

  6. val 4 years ago

    That’s fantastic

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