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. Sue 1 year ago

    After the death of my mother in 2017 my father who has dementia could not look after himself as my mother was his carer I looked after him for a few weeks in my own home but decided along with my partner that he would be more comfortable in his own home so we gave up our council house to live with my dad in his home in June 2018 but my dad got to the stage that he had to go into care as it was 24/7 and I couldn’t cope I’m now facing a battle as the locally authorities say my dad doesn’t qualify for a disregard of his property and say it was my choice to give up my home to care for him but I had no choice as my father could not be left for a minute on his own in the meantime my partner has now turned 60 as this situation is on going can you advise where I stand please thanks sue

    • Care to be Different 1 year ago

      From Ian Fleming: Solicitor advice on property but I’d push back at la saying you will expect a court order as surely a dementia patient is beyond the legal limit set out in the care act and nat assistance act s21 subsection 8
      And the EQA
      “NHS CHC affects people who have primary health needs, the vast majority of whom will be disabled within the definition of the Equality Act 2010 (“EqA”). There is an almost complete overlap between the definition of those adults entitled to NHS CHC and the definition of disability under the EqA. ”
      (page 5/6)…/equal-hlth-inequal-anlys.pdf
      sponsoring Director of this document Jane Cummings ;… NHS England Chief Nurse (2018)
      Author Trish O’Gorman
      NHS Continuing Healthcare Policy Manager at UK Department of Health

  2. Harry 1 year ago

    I have PTSD that means I’m unable to work,I live with my Mother who has Dementia as her carer.
    When / if my Mother has to go into a care home will her house be sold to pay for her care?
    I have no other home.
    Does PTSD count as a qualifying incapacity?I am aged 48.

  3. Jamie 1 year ago

    I am a disabled man who lives with his parents in a mortgage-free property.
    I am partially sighted/registered blind (nystagmus), have dyspraxia and mental health issues.
    I do work part time but due to my disabilities it hinders me from working full time.
    I am concerned that, in the future, if my parents go into care, i would not be able to survive as i cannot afford to live independently. I have always lived in the property and hope being disabled would protect me from leaving the home to pay/pay the deferred payment. My parents are happy for me to stay in the property.

  4. Karen Williams 2 years ago

    I moved in to my mothers house to care for her in Sept 2018. I am currently renting my house to a friend. I am 60, will I be kicked out if mum goes in to care in the future?

    • H Smith 2 years ago

      As I understand it Karen, you are over 60 and therefore fulfil the legal requirements ensuring you can stay there and the house will not be taken into consideration. One thing I will say is, if your mother requires full time care in a care home , make sure the first thing you do is ask for a full assessment to see if she needs medical care as well. If she ends up in hospital and they tell you she needs this full time care, insist that she has a full assessment before she leaves hospital and not after. I had this problem with my mother and I insisted whilst seeing the consultant that she must not be moved from hospital without this. The consultant was wanting to place her in a temporary care home until they had decided what to do. I refused for this to happen and he then said he would fast track her to a care home of our choice as she did need medical care as well. I also had trouble with the Social Services who overstepped their legal position by seeing my mother on her own (she had dementia) in hospital and questioning her about her finances before any decisions had been made or a full assessment done. I complained in the strongest terms about their actions for which they apologised but I suspect is common practice albeit unlawful. This website holds all the information you will require, which is where I got all my information from, which I otherwise would not have known.

  5. Carl 2 years 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 ??

  6. Wendy 2 years 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

  7. Angie 3 years 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.

  8. mike 3 years 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?

  9. Phyll 3 years ago

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

    • Nick Hill 3 years 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!

      • Dave 2 years ago

        Hi Nick,did you have to give up your own home to help your mum?

  10. val 6 years ago

    That’s fantastic

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