Living arrangements for carers

This page looks at things you should consider if you're moving in with the person you care for on a temporary or permanent basis, or if they move in with you. It also looks at what you can do if neither of your homes is suitable for you both to live in, and you need to find somewhere else.

How do I decide where to live?

If you don't live in the same home as the person you care for, you may find it difficult to decide whether to move in with them, to move them in with you, or to remain living apart. The best solution will depend on your individual circumstances, so it's a good idea to talk the situation through with an adviser at a Shelter advice centre or carers' centre. An adviser should be able to tell you your rights and help you work out what to do. Use the Advice Services Directory or the useful links for carers to find an agency near you.

What if I'm moving in with someone temporarily?

If you move in with someone to look after them for a short while, you probably won't want to give up your current home.

If you rent your home, make sure you let your landlord know that you will be away providing care, so they don't think you have abandoned your tenancy. If you get housing benefit to help pay the rent, you can continue to get this for up to 52 weeks while you are away caring for somebody. If you leave your own home unoccupied to live with the person you look after, you may be exempt from paying council tax.

If you are going to be away for at least six months, you may consider letting or subletting your home while you're away. Remember, you will need permission from your mortgage lender or landlord before you can do this. In addition, bear in mind that if the person you've moved in with asks you to leave, you probably won't have many rights to stay on (see 'what are my rights' below). If you need to move out, you won't be able to return to your home until you've ended your tenant's lease properly.

What if I'm moving in with someone permanently?

If you're moving in with the person you care for on a more permanent basis, you may need to give up your current home. If you rent your home, you must end your tenancy properly, otherwise you could remain liable for the rent after you move out. You can find out more about ending a tenancy, selling your home and moving in and out of a property in the section on moving home.

Alternatively, you may consider letting or subletting your home (see above).

What are my rights if I live with the person I care for?

Your rights to stay in the person's home will depend on the arrangement you have with them. If you are paying them rent and have a formal agreement to stay with them, you will probably be a common law tenant, - you can find out more about your rights as a common law tenant.

If you're not paying rent, you won't have many rights if the person asks you to leave, unless you can argue that the caring work you do is in lieu of (instead of) rent. This is a complicated situation, so talk to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice if you're in this position.

If the person rents their home, make sure their landlord knows you will be moving in. If their landlord gives permission, you could consider becoming a joint tenant with the person you care for. This will give you the same rights as them, and make you jointly responsible for paying the rent and looking after the property. However, be careful not to pressure the person you are caring for into agreeing to share their tenancy with you.

If you are moving in with the person as their partner, you can find out more about your rights in the section on living together.

What if the person I care for can no longer manage their home?

There may come a time when the person you care for can no longer make the decisions necessary to run their home. This could include decisions about:

  • paying the rent, mortgage or household bills
  • arranging and paying for repairs or adaptations to be carried out
  • dealing with their landlord
  • claiming benefits, pensions or council tax discounts
  • managing self-directed support (direct payments) and care services
  • managing a bank account and any other finances.

You may wish to prepare for this by suggesting to the person you care for that it might be a good idea for them to have a power of attorney drawn up, giving you or another person they trust the right to make these decisions for them and act on their behalf. This is a sensitive subject and you may feel uncomfortable raising it, but it will make things more straightforward should the person's condition get worse.

A power of attorney will only be valid if the person granting it knows and understands what they are doing at the time they sign it. The solicitor witnessing the signature has to be sure of this. If there is any doubt about the person's ability to know what they are doing, it will be necessary to get a medical opinion before they sign. The page on power of attorney has more information on this, and explains what you can do if the person is no longer able to make their own decisions.

What if the person I care for moves in with me?

It may be more convenient for the person you care for to move in with you. If you live with other people, they will need to agree to this too, and if you rent your home, you will need to ask your landlord's permission first. If you own your home and have a mortgage, you will have to tell your mortgage lender in case the person moving in with you has any rights over your home as a common law tenant. If you intend to have a tenancy agreement with the person who cares for you, you must tell your mortgage lender about this before you agree to a lease.

You'll need to decide what the person's status in your home will be, for example, will they be a lodger, paying rent? Remember, if they do pay you rent, this may affect any benefits you receive.

If your home is not suitable for the person's needs, you may need to adapt it, for example by installing a stairlift or building an accessible bathroom on the ground floor. You can find out more about adapting your home and the financial help available for this here.

What if we need to get a new place together?

It may not be possible for either of you to move in with the other person, for example, because both your homes are too small or can't be suitably adapted. In this case, you may need to consider finding a new home.

Getting a transfer

If you or the person you care for currently lives in housing rented from the council or a housing association, you may be able to transfer to a new home that's suitable for both of you.

Renting from the council

If neither of you currently rents from the council or a housing association, you can put your names down on the waiting list for a home. Make sure you discuss with the housing officer any special needs of the person you care for, so they can make sure any property allocated to you is suitable. If the person you care for is disabled or ill, you'll probably be given priority on the waiting list, but as many areas in Scotland have a shortage of council housing, and in particular housing which is suitable for people with physical disabilities, you may still have to wait a long time.

Renting from a housing association

Some housing associations specialise in homes for disabled people, and may offer support as well. Again, you'll need to put your name on a waiting list. Ask the council's housing department if there's a common housing register - this is a single list that covers all council and housing association homes in your area.

Other options

Other options open to you include:

The section on finding a place to live has more information.

What if the person I care for dies?

If you live with the person you care for, you may be concerned about your housing situation after their death. This will depend on your individual circumstances, such as:

  • whether either or both of you own your home
  • whether either or both of you rent your home
  • what your relationship is, for example, whether the person you care for is your husband, wife or civil partner, or your parent
  • whether the person you care for has written a will.

The section on death in the household looks at your rights in this situation. Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to talk to a solicitor - your local Citizens Advice may be able to get you a free appointment so you can get some legal advice on your position.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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