For many people looking for a place to live, becoming a property guardian could be the best course of action. However, not everybody knows exactly what the process entails, or even what property guardianship is. In our comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the following questions:
- What is a property guardian?
- Why become a property guardian?
- Who can be a property guardian?
- How do people apply to become property guardians in the UK?
What is a property guardian?
Property guardians are people hired to live in, and maintain, any buildings which have been left empty for significant periods of time. Though they’ll most commonly take care of residential accommodation like houses and flats, they also look after any other buildings that can be occupied, including offices, schools and churches. This arrangement allows guardians to enjoy cost-effective housing, at below-market rent, and property owners to rest easy knowing that their premises are safe and secure from criminal activity while unoccupied, such as vandals, squatters and metal thieves. Here at Oaksure, though we do work with any vacant properties, we mostly offer commercial buildings temporarily converted for guardian occupation.
How does property guardianship differ from renting?
Though property guardians have licence agreements to live in designated buildings, their chief purposes are to safeguard the property against any intruders and look out for any maintenance issues on behalf of the owner. Luckily, this is quite straightforward, as the mere presence of a property guardian should be enough to deter squatters and other criminals who are usually more likely to target unoccupied premises. Additionally, guardians should quickly become familiar with the building’s structure, and be better placed to notice any issues.
Another key difference from typical tenants is that guardians have no right to exclusive possession of the property, meaning the owner or somebody from the guardianship company can enter whenever they see fit. However, property guardians are still covered by the Protection from Eviction Act 1977, which means notice periods under four weeks will probably be unlawful. You can learn more about the rights of property guardians on the UK Government website.
Why be a property guardian?
While there is a shortage of affordable homes in the UK, many people are attracted to the low-cost rent that property guardianship brings. Typically, guardians will pay a licence fee that’s 40% to 60% less than the renting market rate, offering substantial savings. In addition to being far cheaper, the scheme also provides flexibility that those renting conventionally can’t always enjoy. Rather than committing to one property long term, some people actually prefer moving around so they can live amongst new people, in a variety of communities. In fact, almost 10% of British people choose to rent rather than buy because they don’t want to be tied to a local area. Property guardianship provides this freedom, but without any lengthy contracts that could tie somebody to a building for a considerable time.
Can guardians live with other people?
Some companies may give potential property guardians the opportunity to live with their partners. However, this is under the condition that each person applies individually and pays all the relevant fees themselves. Unfortunately, they won’t be allowed to bring any pets with them. Alternatively, some people decide to share a property with other guardians, particularly when it comes to especially large buildings. This is a good option for those keen to meet new people during their residence.
Are guardians allowed visitors?
It’s generally acceptable for property guardians to welcome visitors from time to time, but this will be at the discretion of the building’s owner. Guardianship agreements typically outline all the rules and regulations of each building’s particular arrangement, and may limit the number of visitors to the property at one time. For instance, we allow up to five guests at any one time, but they are not allowed to stay overnight. Furthermore, parties will probably always be forbidden.
Who can be a property guardian?
Prospective property guardians will undergo a thorough vetting process to confirm that they are suitable for the job. All applicants must be able to prove that:
- They are at least 18 years old
- Nobody under 18 or pets will be joining them in the property
- They have a reliable income to regularly pay their licence fee
- There are no plans to use the property for anything other than residential purposes
Do you need qualifications to become a property guardian?
While not all companies require particular qualifications, our property guardians are offered Security Industry Authority (SIA) training. In fact, we are the only company to invest in this education, as we believe it guarantees professionalism and competence across all of our guardians. All guardians are also trained in fire safety and emergency procedures as part of their induction, ensuring they’re prepared for all situations when taking care of buildings.
How do people apply to become property guardians in the UK?
How does the application process work?
We house property guardians in London and elsewhere in the UK, and to become an Oaksure property guardian requires the following documentation from every applicant:
- A copy of their passport
- 2 tenancy references
- 2 employment references
- 3 months of bank statements
- Their daily timetable
Once this has all been approved, potential property guardians will be interviewed and also consent to a CRB check. If all of this meets our standards, we can then match applicants to a suitable property, take a deposit, and hand over the keys.
Are there any other costs involved?
Property guardians will have to pay the first month’s licence fee and a deposit called a DSP (Damage Security Payment). Additionally, property guardians could be responsible for utilities like gas, electricity and water. However, companies often include bills in the licence fee to help guardians better manage their finances.
What happens when a property guardian is no longer required?
If the owner of a building no longer needs a guardian for security purposes, they will have a minimum of 28 days notice before they’re required to vacate the premises. During this time, they can look for another property to move into. We often rehouse guardians who have a proven track record working with us, and looking after our properties. Similarly, if a guardian wishes to leave a property, they must provide 28 days’ notice in order to do so.
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