In the last few years, property guardians have become a popular alternative for managing vacant property that would otherwise be occupied by illegal squatters. For landlords with large property portfolios, this arrangement is a cost-effective and low risk way of securing a property.
What is property guardianship and how can it help?
Once an arrangement has been made with a property guardian company, the guardians are then given the right to allow individual live in guardians to occupy a property. The contract will usually provide that the individual guardians must be given licences and not tenancies.
Guardian companies also issue standard form licence agreements.
As the number of vacant properties have hit an all time high, live in guardians are increasingly becoming the best option to protect a vacant property. There is a particular demand for property guardianship from young people, struggling with high rent and house prices, and looking for an affordable alternative.
Tackling squatters head-on
The best advantage of working with live in guardians is that it will discourage illegal squatters from occupying your property. Some property guardianship providers, such as Oaksure Property Protection and Ambika Property, offer their guardians Security Industry Authority (SIA) training and qualifications before they are dispatched.
Live in guardians are not tenants, so they do not have the same legal rights; this is something property guardianship agencies make clear, though basic maintenance requests are always granted. However, earlier this year a group of Bristol property guardians won tenants’ rights in the property they were occupying; this could potentially be a game-changer for the industry, and set a precedent for future guardians to request similar treatment.
Almost any property can be suitable for property guardianship, and many young people interested in the scheme are drawn to the sense of adventure and excitement that comes from living in an unusual building such as an old hospital, a pub or an office.
All live in guardians require the basics you would expect in a home – toilet facilities, running water and a bed. However, it has been widely publicised that some guardians have had to endure carpets covered in raw sewage, poor lighting and flies in showers. Such experiences have led guardians to describe their experiences as having to “live in a constant state of anxiety”.
However, live in guardians are able to report any problems with the property such as leaks, broken windows or pests, as well as any unwanted intruders. A reputable property guardianship company should not be allowing guardians to live in unsuitable conditions, and should address any issues with their properties within reason.
Alternative methods of property protection
There are a number of other ways landlords use to secure a vacant property. Employing a 24 hour security firm may be the most obvious choice, as the security guard’s presence acts as a deterrent for vandals and squatters. However, external security guards are also an obvious sign that a property is empty. More importantly, this type of security is expensive, with further costs arising from additional measures such as onsite dogs or alarm systems.
The other option would be to board up the property. Yet, metal sheeting doesn’t come cheap either, and it can be removed by someone who is determined to gain access to your property. Indeed, the sheeting itself is valuable enough to be regularly stolen, giving vandals additional incentive to approach your property. Any form of removal can cause damage which will just add to costs.
By comparison, property guardianship is a win-win situation: landlords get to secure their empty properties, reduce insurance and make money, whilst eager live in guardians can beat the housing crisis and enjoy affordable accommodation.