The process of buying or selling a property can be one of the most stressful aspect of someone’s life. For those whom lack mental capacity or have a disability, the process can be more stressful with additional complications and obstacles that sometimes arise.
Where an individual has lost capacity and does not have an LPA in place, a Deputy will be required to purchase a property on behalf of P (the “Protected Party”). In cases where there already is a Deputy, it may still be necessary to make an application to the COP to buy a specific property, as it is very common for Deputyship Orders to include restrictions preventing them from purchasing, selling or adapting P’s property without specific authority. If the Deputy needs permission, a formal application must be submitted to the COP.
The Deputy will need to have an understanding of the potential adaptation works that might be required and their associated costs, and consider these within the context of P’s wider wealth. It is common for the Deputy to engage an Independent Financial Advisor (“IFA”) to comment on the affordability of the proposed purchase and/or adaptation works in light of P’s wider wealth and an Architect/QS to draw up a scheme and prepare a detailed costing. Going forward, the Deputy can use the advice to carefully manage the budget.
The Deputy will work closely with P’s Occupational Therapist (“OT”) to carry out an assessment to understand P’s abilities and long-term needs. In addition to this, it is important for the Deputy to work with an architect, P’s family and the OT to understand the environment that needs to be created for P and the necessary adaptation works. This ranges from ensuring there is sufficient space indoors for P to easily move around and making every room in the property accessible for P, as well as creating a suitable outdoor environment, where appropriate. This can be even more important in cases where P is unable to enjoy public outdoor spaces.
An important consideration for the Deputy is to carefully take into account the length of time it is going to take to purchase and/or adapt the property. Finding a home, sourcing an architect to prepare plans, obtaining planning permission, consulting with IFA’s, OT and other specialists, can take a considerable amount of time. It may therefore be necessary for the Deputy to work with P’s family and clinical team to source suitable temporary accommodation and take this into consideration when managing the budget.
Throughout the whole process the Deputy will carefully communicate with everyone, obtaining updates from all those involved as well as arranging regular site visits. It is crucial the Deputy gets the process right as the property is likely to be P’s home for life.