You finally thought you found an assisted living facility for your elderly loved one where he can get the support he needs for his daily life. Then one day, the unimaginable happened: your loved one called you and said he was getting evicted.
Sadly, this scenario happens more often than you think. It is not illegal for an assisted living facility to evict a resident, but only if they abide by the rules of the contract.
An assisted living facility is not the same as a skilled nursing facility. The latter is governed by federal law, and the Nursing Home Reform Act protects residents. The facility must document legal reasons for an involuntary discharge.
The state regulates assisted living facilities, and regulations are inconsistent and often unclearly defined from state to state. As a result, facilities can often get away with evicting a resident.
If you or a loved one are going through this situation, here is some information that can help.
What Should You Do If You Receive An Eviction Notice?
First of all, give yourself a chance to calm down from the shock. You need a clear head to think through your course of action.
An eviction notice usually gives you 30 to 45 days to leave, depending on the contract. Use this time wisely to fight back.
First, review the contract to ensure that you were given the correct number of days to move out, as stated in the contract. Sometimes a facility will try to shorten the notice, particularly if they have another potential resident lined up to take the space.
Then, schedule an appointment to meet with the facility’s management about the eviction. Ask them to state the reason for the eviction and ask if the issue can be resolved without the need to leave. If management does not want to negotiate and you believe the eviction was unjustified, let them know that you have not ruled out taking legal action against them.
Make it clear that you may file a claim with a long-term care ombudsman. You may also bring up the issue on social media and popular websites that review services for seniors. Let them see that you have done your homework and that you will not go away quietly. If necessary, you will take one of these actions.
If the reason for the eviction is that the facility claims it can no longer meet the medical needs of you or your loved one, consult with a doctor not associated with the facility to see if assisted living continues to be the best option.
How to Protect Yourself or a Loved One From An Eviction?
A common reason for eviction is that the resident does not have the money to pay fees that were unexpected. These might be for extra services required. So, before you sign on the dotted line, ask for a written document of all possible fees, and be clear about what services your fee covers.
Before you sign, ask for written documentation of the eviction policy. Under what circumstances can the facility evict a resident? What is the process of eviction? Ask them to be as detailed as possible.
If terms are vague or unclear, the facility can interpret them in such a way that will work against you and evict you. One of the reasons justifying eviction is that the resident was exhibiting “endangering behavior.” This is a vague definition, so ask them to list the behaviors that they consider “endangering.”
Review the agreement carefully. Better yet, consult with an attorney specializing in elder law, and ask him to review it.
If the facility is making any promises, get them in writing. This is the only way to ensure the facility makes good on its promises. Basically, get everything in writing and fully understand what you are getting from the agreement.
Sometimes when a resident is hospitalized because the facility could not address the health issue, the facility might not allow the patient to return and might even give away the room to a new tenant. So, before you sign the contract, have them write down how many days the bed will be held if you or your loved one is hospitalized.
To prevent the eviction of a loved one, you should set up a care plan. This care plan outlines the proper course of action agreed by you and the staff on how to de-escalate a behavior problem that your loved one might have. This is a constructive method of preventing behavior problems as a cause of eviction.
Sometimes the reason for eviction can be the facility’s inability to provide special care and attention. In that case, see if the facility is open to having you provide your loved one with a private caregiver at the facility.
What Can You Do To Slow Down An Eviction Proceeding?
You can do a few things to slow the eviction proceedings.
- Just don’t move. The facility will have to get a court order to discharge you involuntarily. This will be your chance to argue in court about the unfairness of the eviction.
- Ask for an extension.
- Depending on our state, ask for an administrative hearing.
- Hire an elder law attorney. You might be able to use the facility under anti-discrimination laws. These laws include the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 in the Rehabilitation Act. These laws protect residents against discrimination based on a person’s disability.
How Can You Be Legally Evicted From Assisted Living?
The assisted care facility cannot evict you without just cause. The management of the facility must document the reasons under which they are evicting you. When you signed the contract, you agreed to comply with a set of rules.
If you violate any of those contract terms, the facility has legal grounds to evict you. The facility can also evict someone who requires more specialized care that the facility is not able to provide. It can evict someone who was deemed to be “endangering others.”
The facility must provide its residents with a safe place to live. If a resident is found to be misbehaving all the time, acting out, causing trouble, breaking rules, and requiring lots of attention, it can lead to an eviction notice. The notice must describe the specific circumstance around the eviction.
What Are the Most Common Reasons Someone Would Be Evicted from Assisted Living?
An assisted living facility can legally evict you for a valid reason. Here are examples of the most common reasons:
- A bill that was unpaid. When you signed the contract, you agreed to pay a certain amount for staying there. The facility can evict you if you have not been paying your bills.
- As mentioned earlier, the facility can evict you for exhibiting “endangering behaviors.”
- You were smoking.
- Drinking alcohol when it isn’t allowed in the assisted living community (or drinking excessively)
- You were violent toward the staff or other tenants.
- You were yelling and wandering into other people’s rooms.
- You were falling a lot.
- You refused to comply with rules regarding pets and schedules.
- Bringing in forbidden items such as flammable items, unsafe electronics, or illegal medications.
- You exhibited symptoms of dementia.
- Sexual harassment.
- You require a higher level of care.
Because you agreed to comply with the facility’s policies, you could be evicted for breaking any of the contract terms.
Where To Go If You Are Being Evicted But Still Need Care?
If your loved one was evicted but still requires care for daily living routines, there are places he can go.
First, think carefully if the facility that evicted him is still a good fit. Chances are, the relationship has soured because you believe your loved one was treated unfairly.
What guarantees he will not be treated unfairly again if he is allowed to stay? So, it may be better to seek other facilities because this place is no longer appropriate for him to get the best care.
If there are signs of mental deterioration, you might need to look for a nursing home instead of a loved one. As mentioned earlier, these are governed under more stringent laws at the federal level, so your loved one will enjoy better protection.
If another assisted living facility is desired, free services can help you find facilities for your loved one. Tour the facility with your loved one. Follow the suggestions above before you sign on the dotted line.
Getting evicted from an assisted living facility can come as a shock to your loved one and to family members. However, you still have rights, and there is help.
Consult with an elder care attorney or advocate who can advise you on your rights and fight for you. Use this opportunity to reassess if the current facility is still appropriate. This might be a wake-up call to find a new place to live.
All seniors deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Take your time in finding the right facility that your loved one will be happy about.