My mother has been living in a house with no running water. How do I convince her to move? - AgingCare.com

My mother has been living in a house with no running water. How do I convince her to move?

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I'm 28 and live in NY. My mother is 63 and no major physical health issues other than diabetes, but I do think she might have undiagnosed bipolar disorder based on past cycles of manic episodes and deep depression as I've grown up. She spent years taking care of my grandmother alone when we were living in NY and when my grandmother died, she left the house to my mother and my uncle. After I graduated high school and went away to college, my uncle bought my mom out for $100K and she moved into a house in Philadelphia that has been in my dad's name in trust for me since my mother has a previous criminal record and lots of related debt. The house needed a lot of work, but she ended up spending all of the $100K and not fixing up the house. She doesn't know where she spent the money (she's a shopaholic and generally bad with money). Now she has been living in a house with no running water for years and has a hoarding problem with piles of stuff all throughout the house. I've tried to convince her to find a part time job or move out to an apartment. I offered to help pay a portion of the rent.


The house she is living in was recently transferred into my name, so that I could take out a loan to do repairs and get the house in good enough shape that she could ultimately live in it. However, my loan application was rejected because of bad marks on my credit from when my mom opened a bunch of credit cards in my name years ago without my knowledge and they haven't fallen off my credit report yet. She also previously lied to me when I was in high school and took me to the bank to get access to my college savings fund, which she spent all $20K of and that I only found out about a few years ago.


I'm finally in a financial position within my career where I could supplement a small apartment somewhere else in Philadelphia until she gets off the waiting list for a couple senior housing apartments that I made her apply to. However, I don't feel like she is really taking this seriously and I found out she has an ex boyfriend staying there who I know does drugs (my mom doesn't, she is a shopaholic hence the money problems). I don't want him living in a house that is now in my name (he previously choked my mother and is an alcoholic) and now I don't feel comfortable co-signing a temp apartment for her if she is going to lie to me and have him living in it. I can get the work on the house done slowly over the next 2 -3 years, but I don't know if I should just wash my hands of the situation and transfer the house to her name and let her figure it out. I don't really know what to do. She has lied to me so often that I can't trust her and I don't want to be bogged down in the situation with her and this guy. I just want her to have somewhere decent to live and then live her own life. I have no siblings, so this is all on me. She has diabetes, but no other health issues and could look for a part time job but she doesn't. She gets money from my dad and makes her ex boyfriend give her money to stay in what is now my house. I feel so guilty that she has been living this way, but I never had the means to do anything about it.



How to I get her to take seriously that she has to move somewhere that at least has running water?

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My dear, Google Borderline Personality Disorder and see if it sounds familiar.
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Get rid of the property, her and your feelings of guilt.
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Thank you all for your really helpful responses. I really appreciate it. I've felt so alone in this for so long. I tried to talk to her to get her to move out again and she claimed I was trying to throw her out in the street and that I have no right and just generally playing the victim...She wants me to sign the property back in her name and I think getting a lawyer to do the deed transfer is probably the best route for my own sanity. Part of the reason I agreed to transfer it into my name originally was because she said she wanted me to have something for my future, but it was really just to get me to take responsibility for it and get what she wants. She has been texting me a lot and it's feeling a little threatening. She's still denying that her ex has been living with her there, but my father confirmed it, so I know she's just blatantly lying to me. I don't think continuing to have contact with her is healthy, but it just really hurts to realize my mother has been using me and seemingly feels no remorse.
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Children of Hoarders is a group I've been involved with for several years and which has helped me tremendously as a support group. I've found tremendous understanding there of my emotions, just like I've found support for emotions relating to aging here.

Because you are the owner of record, you will be responsible to fix the running water. To protect yourself - and your well being comes far before mama's - you gift her the house. I would not worry about the actual value of the house at the moment of the gift unless you think you will have more than 5M in assets when you die - estate tax issues, and a minor expense compared to getting this property up to code.

ASAP, get your attorney to write up the deed, pay his staff to go visit her in the yard to witness her signing the deed, and then pay them to register it at the county registrar's office. Done.

As adult children, we have to allow our adult parents the freedom to make bad decisions, just like we ourselves at times made bad decisions as young adults. It is a legal rights issue. You can't stop them, and you are not responsible for them - but you are responsible for the house if it is in your name. Get out of that trap!
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Dear Saan,

I know this is a very hard situation but do not delay. Must involve the authorities. Call Adult Protective Services. No one should live in a house without running water. Its a big safety and sanitary concern.
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"No running water" are the least of her problems. The house catching fire because she's mentally ill is the largest issue to deal with, but good luck on that one. Sure there should also be running water added to the home, but it will be near impossible since the home is cluttered with junk.
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In my state you cannot live in a house without water. If the township turned off the water I am surprised they haven't evicted her. You can call the water department and find out what is going on. It's a health hazard.
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Your mother is seriously mentally ill and needs to be dealt with by folks with no emotional attachment to her.

That sounds so harsh, I know. But given the historical lying, defrauding, cheating and generally doing things that show that she has no shame or attachment in doing these things to you, her child, would seem to be evidence of Borderline Personality Disorder, or something akin to it.

This is neither your fault nor hers, but it is NO WAY fixable by you.

The authorities--APS, the cops, local social services are the ones who need to step in. If I were you, I would retain a lawyer to figure out how to legally disentangle myself from the house, because it's going to cause issues down the line.
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No doubt you love your mother, but she failed you as a parent. She has been using you and defrauding you -- for your entire life. There are no feel-good solutions. And nothing you do can change your mother or cause her to live like a normal person. Nothing.

For sure, do not co-sign any lease, application or loan for your mother. Do not put any of her utilities in your name. Do not pay for any portion of her expenses or overhead, no matter where she is living.

The house thing is sticky. If you are mentally prepared to let the house go, sign it over to her. No more coaching her about running water. She can live however she wants. And when she gets (the inevitable) delinquent tax notices, do not bail her out. Her house, her problem.

If you choose to remain the owner of record, I recommend filing eviction against mom and her druggie abusive boyfriend. There are several illegal behaviors taking place in your house. With no remorse, no learning curve and no consideration for the impact on you. The last thing you need is local authorities holding you accountable for their criminal activity.

It is fantastic that you are successful enough to support 2 households. But it doesn't mean you have to. Your smarts, your grit and your tenacity got you out of the family rut. Keep moving forward -- and take care of YOU.

Mom made her choices. Including decades of violating normal parent-child boundaries. And she ruined your credit in the process. Enough already.

You cannot save Mom. You can only save yourself. Perhaps a counselor can help you sort through this? (((((hugs)))))
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I thought I answered this but apparently I didn't.

Let the municipality or county health department take the lead (and the heat and repercussions). Unless your mother has a well and other water source, her house is a health hazard to her.

Who "transferred" title to you? Are you aware that you're now responsible for the condition of the house? I don't quite follow the ownership issue or why or how you became an owner, but I so sympathize with the dilemmas it's created.

And you're well within your rights to think of how this complicated situation affects you, legally, morally, financially and personally. Try to keep that in mind as you navigate this complicated situation.

But, and unfortunately, there are some serious issues beyond the question of convincing your mother to agree to a cleanup. If you're aware of a junkie living in the house, you might be considered a contributing or tolerating party. I'd see a local PD ASAP to get their support on getting this guy out of the house.

As to repairs, there's another question by a Veteran on how to get assistance. I've answered with some suggestions that apply to non-veterans as well. It might be helpful to take a look at that question:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/financial-assistance-for-home-improvements-429806.htm.

You have a lot to deal with; get as much advice as you can from the PD and county health department or the whole situation will just become too overwhelming to deal with.

Good luck, and try to take it one step at a time.
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