To sell or to let? That is the question

July 3, 2013

Thankfully, before the dementia took a hold, Mum was a very sensible lady and it was over seven years ago when she suggested setting up an Enduring Power of Attorney for myself and my brother to act jointly on her behalf to manage her affairs if she should become incapable of doing so herself.

The document, signed by us all, lay in the envelope in the drawer for several years but last year we felt the need to have it certified and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, as it was obvious that Mum needed us to take over.

Shortly after that she was admitted to a Care Home, following a fall in her home, we had to investigate her finances to ensure that we could manage to pay the monthly fees of nearly £3000 per month.

I suppose we thought it may be a temporary arrangement but, as time goes on, her dementia is progressing and we now have to consider how best to manage her assets to unable us to cover these costs.

She owns a 3 bedroom semi-detached house in a quiet cul-de-sac on the outskirts of a town in Essex. My brother and I had lived there from our mid-teens until we left home in our 20s, as we each got married. We are now in our early 60s.

We had to decide whether to try selling it (in a very uncertain market) or to keep it for a while longer and try letting it to generate some income to go some way towards meeting the cost of the care home fees.

So, one Thursday evening in April we invited a Letting Agent round to look at the property and give us some basic advice on what it would entail to be a Landlord.

He spent some time explaining what our responsibilities would be, and what his company could be responsible for if we agreed to the full service they offer to manage the tenancy. Different rates of interest apply, of course, but (without previously conferring!) we were both agreed that, if we decided to let, we would want the company to manage the tenancy for us.  We were assured that we would be kept informed of any action needed, or to be taken, regarding the property and the tenancy.

If I’m honest, I had been more reluctant than my brother to let Mum’s house, and I had been more inclined towards selling it at this stage.  But, as the letting agent said (and he was only doing his job) “You can always try letting to a tenant for a year and if it doesn’t work out, then you can sell.  But if you sell straightaway, you’ll never be able to let”.

Well, I allowed myself to be swayed by this, but we asked to have a couple of days to think things over and we’d let him know whether we wanted to enter into a contract with his company and ask them to find us a suitable tenant.

We needed to talk privately as we need to be agreed on all decisions made on Mum’s behalf, or at least find a reasonable compromise.  This seemed like a suitable compromise – we would try letting for a year – we would become landlords.

Mrs Jones, Essex

To be continued….

*The above events are real, but the author’s name has been changed by request.