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When houseguests do more than make themselves at home

October 20, 2015
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

There is a popular old saying, "Houseguests, like fish, begin to smell after three days". Many of our Florida seniors are dealing with relatives or caregivers who move into their homes and refuse to leave. The problem often starts with a visit or extended visit. A relative or friend will stay in the home to help the seniors with chores, errands and transportation. In many cases this provides assistance for the senior, a home for the helper and a financial benefit for both.

However, if the relationship deteriorates, seniors may find that getting rid of an unwanted housemate is not an easy task. Instead of taking care of the senior, they help themselves to the senior's possessions or spend their Social Security checks. Like all states, Florida requires a court order to force a resident to move. A resident is a person who has made a house their legal address by doing things such as receiving mail, using the address for a driver's license, taxes or voter identification. This is true even when there is not a lease and the person is not paying rent or utilities.

Help is available.

Florida Rural Legal Services (239) 334-4554 can help seniors over the age of 60 with an unlawful detainer action to remove unwanted guests. Seniors may also contact the Florida Senior Legal Helpline (1-888-895-7873) and the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida Elder Helpline (1-866-413-5337) to find sources of assistance in their localities. To report Elder Abuse, Neglect or Exploitation, call the Florida Abuse Hotline (1-800-96-ABUSE) (1-800-962-2873)



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