Home take overs

Sgt. Sheri Tate, DRPSBy Sergeant Sheri Tate/DRPS

As the senior support coordinator, I’ve been receiving more and more questions from the public about a form of elder abuse that we call a “home take over.”

In a home taker over situation, a vulnerable senior may allow a relative or a stranger to rent a room from them or to stay with them in exchange for chores to be done around the house.

Over time or overnight, the situation changes for the worse and the senior loses control over their home. In many cases, the chores are not done and the roommate stops paying rent. The roommate may also damage the home, move others in without permission, eat the senior’s food, steal their personal belongings and conduct illicit criminal activity in the home.

Sometimes the roommate will be disrespectful in other ways such as leaving the kitchen a mess or being noisy when the senior is sleeping.

Often if the homeowner tries to talk to the roommate about their behavior it doesn’t change, and in fact, the situation gets worse.

If the roommate is a family member, the person will use their personal relationship to guilt the senior into allowing them to stay, despite the disrespectful behavior.

I’ve had seniors tell me they have asked the roommate to leave and they were told “NO…. I’m not leaving.”

If the roommate and the home owner share a kitchen and a bathroom, then the roommate is not afforded any protections under the Tenant Protection Act. Instead, the Trespass to Property Act applies and the roommate can be told to leave the premise immediately. The police can and will assist with these situations.

Help is available if you need it. If you are thinking about renting a room in your home, it is a good idea to establish some rules or boundaries at the start.

Making a contract which clearly states the house rules, what each person is expected to bring to the “roommate relationship,” and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules, may help prevent a home takeover.

If you have any questions about this type of elder abuse please call me or 911 in an emergency and take the first step in regaining control of your home.

Reach me at 905-579-1520 ext. 5624.

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