1. Introduction

Local authorities must take all reasonable steps to protect the movable property of an adult with care and support needs who is being cared for away from home, in a hospital or in accommodation such as a care home, and who cannot arrange to protect their property themselves; this could include their pets as well as their personal property (for example, private possessions and furniture). Local authorities must act where it believes that if it does not take action there is a risk of movable property being lost or damaged.

Protecting property may include arranging for pets to be looked after when securing premises for someone who is having their care and support needs provided away from home in a care home or hospital, and who has not been able to make other arrangements for the care of their home or pets.
In order to protect movable property in these circumstances the local authority may enter the property, at reasonable times, with the adult’s consent, ideally in writing; but reasonable prior notice to enter should be given.

Staff should contact the Client Financial Service with enquiries about secure storage of items and accommodating pets. Referral forms are available from them.

1.1 Adults who Lack Capacity

If the adult lacks the capacity to give consent to the local authority entering the property, consent should be sought from a person authorised under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to give consent on the adult’s behalf. This might be:

If the adult in question lacks capacity and no other person has been authorised to act on their behalf, the local authority must act in the best interests of the adult (see Mental Capacity).

1.2 Prevention of Access

If a third party tries to stop an authorised entry into the home they will be committing an offence, unless they can give a good reason for why they are obstructing the local authority in protecting the adult’s property. Committing such an offence could, on conviction by a Magistrates’ Court, lead to the person being fined. If a local authority intends to enter a home then it must give written authorisation to an officer of the council and that person must be able to produce it if asked for.

The local authority has no power to apply for a warrant to carry out their duties to protect property. If the Court decides the obstruction is reasonable then the local authority would have no power to force entry.

This duty on the local authority lasts until the adult in question returns home or makes their own arrangements for the protection of property or until there is no other danger of loss or damage to property; whichever happens first. Often a one off event is required such as the re-homing of pets or ensuring that the property is secured.

If costs are incurred or if there are ongoing costs the local authority can recover any reasonable expenses they incur in protecting property under this duty from the adult whose property they are protecting.

2. Protection of Property

Small valuable items such as bank books, passports, jewellery, and cash can be held by Client Financial Services (CFS) for safekeeping.

Properties can be boarded up or locks changed if required, to make safe if entry has been forced for the protection of the client.

The service does not provide storage for house contents; alternatives are:

  • agree items for disposal / send to charity;
  • arrange for family to store the property;
  • the citizen makes own arrangements for storage and funds privately.

There may be individual circumstances where there is a need to keep items in storage. This needs to be arranged with prior approval from the manager of CFS. In these exceptional circumstances, CFS will fund the transportation costs and storage costs for the first six weeks only. After that, costs will be met by the team cost centre code.

3. Kennelling (Pets)

In the event of emergency admissions to care, where there are no family members to care for pets, CFS will fund the kennelling of the pet for six weeks.

The department will recover any costs incurred for any vaccinations. treatments, and kennelling of the pets from the citizen. Care managers must make sure the citizen is aware of the costs involved.

Should a citizen go into long term residential care, the pet should be re-homed immediately.

Where possible, the department will recover any costs incurred from the citizen.

4. Review

4.1 Six week review

After six weeks, consideration needs to be given to rehoming / reuniting. Costs will be recharged to the social work team budget or the citizen after six weeks.

The protection of property, including pets should only be a temporary measure. CFS will fund the first six weeks of any storage, kennelling and pay for ‘boarding up’. However, the care manager must review after six weeks and seek to bring the temporary arrangements to a close.

In all cases, cost incurred after the six week period will be met by the team budget or the citizen. Referrals will not be accepted unless the code is provided on the referral form. Care managers still have to complete the referral form after any emergency admissions to the kennels.

4.2 Annual review

If the citizen has a kennelled pet, the situation will be reviewed as part of the overall review.

Where pets have been kennelled for people who lack capacity, decisions should be made in line with the principles of best interest (see Best Interests).