Legal Agreements Can Protect Senior’s Living Arrangements From Disputes

senior couple having a meal

A 2016 census of Australian citizens showed that 16 per cent of the population is over 65 years old. This means that the number of elderly Australians increased by 664,500 people between 2011 and 2016. Almost all these senior citizens (99 per cent) were living in private residences as of 2016. Furthermore, 7.7 per cent of seniors lived with their children and an additional 2.6 percent lived in multi-family residences.

While the setup is ideal in many ways, families who share their properties with their older relatives may want to establish boundaries. The elderly may want a space to call their own that’s still close enough to their families so they can get the comfort and assistance they require. Since 2015, Australians have found a way to balance these requirements.

Quaint and Accessible Dwellings

In 2015, Australian homeowners took renewed interest in secondary on-site residences called ‘granny flats’ to provide their elderly relatives with comfortable and accessible homes. Although these small-scale residences have been around for years, it wasn’t until 2015 that the market for granny flats picked up speed.

These types of dwellings are practical because their compact dimensions allow homeowners to build them in their backyards. An elderly relative then gets to live near their family members, who can keep them company and help them if they ever need it. The flats themselves usually make for an economic use of space, providing a resident with all the utilities that a regular-sized home but in an area that’s easier to access and manage.

As charming as these arrangements can be for the elderly, though, family disputes and arguments can put them in jeopardy.

Securing Living Accommodations

senior couple taking a jog
Senior couple in sports clothing running together on road.

Many senior Australians rely on informal arrangements with their children or younger relatives. In these arrangements, the elderly relative gives their younger family members money with which to modify an existing property to include a granny flat or to purchase land that it can build it on. The younger relatives then agree to let the senior citizen live in the dwelling permanently or until such time that they have to live in residential care or a similar facility.

While these arrangements can work out if the family has a falling out or a have a major argument, it could pose a threat to the security of the senior’s living arrangement. If the relatives who own the property the granny flat is standing on decide to evict their elderly relation. This kind of situation would have to be resolved in court. It’s because of this possibility that senior citizens are encouraged to draft legally binding accommodation agreements.

These documents secure the elderly right to keep living in their flat regardless of any disagreement or dispute between them and their younger relatives. They also address other issues that might cause friction between the parties involved. They usually include the following factors:

  • Which party pays for utilities, like the electricity and the telephone?
  • What chores and activities is one party obliged to do for the other?
  • Does the senior citizen wish to help raise any children in the household?
  • What do the younger relatives do if the elderly health takes a turn for the worse?

It may seem callous or paranoid to have family members sign a legally binding document, but without such protections, the elderly could find it difficult to retain their living conditions in case their family relationship turns sour. When it comes to securing their comfort, stability and dignity, the elderly should take no chances but every precaution.

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