Arthur investigates the growing trend of property guardians that is sweeping the nation.
Cheap rent. Offer that to a tenant and most would leap at the chance. But what if there was a catch: limited rights. This is the decision that every property guardian has to make. A property guardian is a person that lives in a building during void periods to ‘guard’ it. Recently reports have come out stating that those that choose to participate in these schemes can often live in terrible conditions.
The concept of property guardians is actually a very sensible one. By asking a person to live in a building whilst the owner decides what they would like to do with it, the building is far less likely to be subject to vandalism or to have squatters enter the building. Offer a discounted rate on rent and suddenly there are hundreds of people that don’t mind they are living in an office block or an old pub rather than a regular flat. Companies that specialise in finding property guardians are now popping up all over the place, particularly in London. Whilst the majority work well with both the tenants and the owners, some tenants have reported that their living conditions are not up to scratch.
A property guardian is not a tenant. Therefore, they don’t have the same legal rights as a tenant does. This has led to reports of some companies taking advantage of this grey area. Guardians reported a lack of repairs, poor heating, a failure to give 28 days notice to vacate the property (the legal minimum for a tenanted property) and even gagging orders in their contracts. Despite this, thousands of people still choose to become property guardians.
Despite these worries, when done correctly property guardianship can be a force for good.The University of York’s recent study into the new phenomenon showed that the reason people were choosing to do this was because they have no other option. “It was either guardianship or homelessness” said one property guardian. Guardianship offers an alternative housing situation to those that may not be able to afford to rent in a certain area, or at all. Furthermore, companies such as Live in Guardians use systems such as Arthur Online to ensure that their guardians easily have a way to report any problems they may be facing.
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