You may have never heard of the term, but property guardianship has been around for many years and enables people to live cheaply in a property – but is it all good news?
When answering the question of “What is property guardianship?” we must essentially say that it is a legal arrangement that sees someone agreeing to live in and take care of a property, usually one that is empty or derelict, in exchange for reduced rent.
That saving could be up to 40% of the area’s average rent.
But it has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way for people to find affordable housing in areas where property prices are high – and help them deal with rising bills.
As the name suggests, property guardians are appointed to live in and take care of a property while its owner is away.
This could be for several reasons, such as the owner being away on business or travelling, or it could be because the property is unoccupied for a period.
Guardians are especially useful for commercial properties that are being readied for selling.
What does being a guardian involve?
According to the government, no one knows exactly how many property guardians there are in the UK – but estimates put the total at between 5,000-7,000 people.
Guardians are usually required to sign a contract with the property owner, which sets out their responsibilities and the length of time they will be required to stay on the property.
Property guardianship can also be a more cost-effective way for the owner to protect their property than traditional methods such as using security guards or alarm systems.
For guardians, it can also offer a unique and exciting lifestyle, as they often get to experience different properties and locations.
Once you’ve found a property owner who is looking for guardians, you’ll need to go through an application process.
Property guardianship services in the UK
Several companies offer property guardianship services in the UK, and the benefits include:
- An affordable way to live in a desirable location;
- Chance to rent a property you might not otherwise be able to afford;
- Opportunity to live in an unusual property.
However, there are also some downsides to property guardianship, including:
- You may have to move out at short notice if the owner decides they want to sell the property;
- You may also find yourself living in less than ideal conditions;
- You may have to share a property with other guardians;
- There may be restrictions on noise levels and guests.
If the sound of becoming a property guardian is attractive to you, then bear in mind that the property may not be in a liveable condition when you first move in – so be prepared!
And if you are seriously thinking about the prospect, it is important to do your research and make sure that you are aware of both the advantages and disadvantages before you commit to anything.
Property guardianship: what it is and how it works
The main role of property guardians is to live in empty properties and act as a deterrent to squatters and vandals. Having said that, a guardian is definitely not a security guard.
It is the property guardianship companies that will take on the responsibility of finding suitable guardians and managing the properties they live in.
For property owners, the main attraction is that it provides peace of mind that their property is being looked after and is not at risk of squatting or vandalism.
According to the Guardian newspaper, around 70% of properties requiring guardians are commercial, but there are lots of private homes available too.
That means you could be living in a:
- Disused police station;
- Old factory;
- Redundant hospital.
What does the government say?
It’s also worth noting that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities does not encourage or endorse property guardianship to be a form of housing.
However, the government department acknowledges that everyone has the right to make an informed decision about their own housing choice and that local councils and property guardians should follow the department’s guidance on their responsibilities and rights.
Becoming a property guardian
If you are considering becoming a property guardian, you will need:
- To be over the age of 18;
- Have a clean criminal record;
- Provide proof of your right to live and work in the UK;
- Be able to commit to living on the property for at least six months.
It’s also worth noting that as a property guardian, you will not have the same rights as a tenant – so it is important to understand your obligations before signing up.
The process will usually involve an interview and a background check. If you’re successful, you’ll be asked to sign a contract and pay a deposit.
Try the Property Guardian Providers Association for more information on what is involved and what properties are available.
The benefits of property guardianship
We’ve mentioned that as a property guardian, you will typically pay a reduced rent in return for taking on responsibility for the property.
This can be a great way for people to live in otherwise expensive areas.
For example, if you are looking to live in central London, becoming a property guardian could save you hundreds of pounds per month in rent.
And it is reassuring for a property owner to know that property guardianship companies screen all potential guardians carefully to ensure they are suitable for the role.
How much does it cost to live in one of these properties?
The cost of living in a property as a guardian will vary depending on the arrangement that you have with the property owner.
However, it is typically much cheaper than renting a property traditionally – which is why this is a popular choice for tenants.
For example, you may only be required to pay a nominal amount for council tax and utilities – which then brings the opportunity of saving up to buy a home of your own.
It may help to learn that, according to the London Assembly, the average property guardian license fee in the capital was £475 per month.
The property owner may also provide the furniture and other household items but don’t be surprised if you have to take your own belongings.
Also, there will be a rent deposit to pay.
The deposit is typically equivalent to one month’s rent and is used to cover the cost of any damage that you may cause to the property.
The rent contract will also set out the terms of your guardianship, such as how long you’ll be required to stay on the property and what your responsibilities are.
What are my rights as a property guardian?
As mentioned, property guardians do not have the same rights as tenants in traditional rental agreements.
For example, you will not be able to sublet the property or make changes to it without the permission of the property owner.
However, you should still be treated fairly and reasonably by the property owner.
What sort of properties are available to guardians?
There is a wide range of properties available to guardians, from office blocks and warehouses to residential properties and even listed buildings.
The type of property will usually be determined by the needs of the owner.
These properties are located all over the country – from big cities to rural areas.
FAQs about property guardianship in the UK
What is property guardianship?
Property guardianship is when someone lives in a property in exchange for taking on responsibility for it. This can be a great way for people to live in otherwise expensive areas, as well as getting a foot on the property ladder.
Who can become a property guardian?
To become a property guardian, you must be over the age of 18 and have a clean criminal record. You will also need to be able to commit to living on the property for at least six months.
What are the benefits of property guardianship?
The benefits of property guardianship include saving money on rent and living in otherwise expensive areas. Additionally, as a property guardian you will have the peace of mind of knowing that your property is being looked after.
What are the downsides of property guardianship?
The potential downsides of property guardianship include the possibility of eviction and less-than-ideal living conditions. It is important to understand both the benefits and the risks before becoming a property guardian.
Can I bring my family or friends to live with me?
This will depend on the arrangement that you have with the property owner. In some cases, you may be able to have one or two friends or family members stay with you, but in other cases, this may not be possible.
How do I become a property guardian?
There are a few steps you need to take to become a property guardian. Firstly, you will need to find a property guardianship company that has properties available in your desired area. Once you have found a company, you will need to fill out an application form and attend an interview. If your application is successful, you will be able to move into the property and start your role as a property guardian.
What is property guardianship?
Overall, property guardianship can be a great way to save money on rent and experience different parts of the country.
However, it is important to understand the risks involved before becoming a guardian.
If you’re thinking of becoming a guardian, make sure you do your research and find a reputable property owner or guardian company to work with.