Property Guardianship is a relatively new concept, but little seems to be known about it.
In short, when a building is empty a property owner enters into a licence with a company which makes the property habitable. It will then usually enter into a licence with someone who agrees to reside in the property to look after it until such time as the new use for the building comes forward, which includes redevelopment. The arrangement does apparently reduce security costs for empty buildings.
Is this a good idea?
It's a nice idea because it provides a roof over someone's head and provides employment. The downside is that it is not long terms, so will never be a home. It is also difficult to envisage that it will ever be able to generate the amount of accommodation at a decent standard to make a dent into the homelessness problem.
In addition, the property owner and guardian company need to take great care to ensure the agreement with the individual does not unwittingly become a tenancy offering at least a limited form of security to the occupier. Legal advice is thus essential to ensure this doesn't happen.
Guardianship may be a good short terms solution to help those in need of shelter during these difficult times but it doesn't seem to me to be a long terms solution to the housing crisis which requires decent long term homes for those in need.
Over the past few years, a relatively new – and cost-neutral – approach to securing empty properties has been making inroads into the social housing sector: using full-time, live-in ‘property guardians’ to keep buildings safe and secure. Companies that offer this service will cover the costs of making empty properties habitable, and generate their income from the below-market rents paid by the guardians themselves. But how good a fit is this model for the social housing sector? A new Inside Housing survey, carried out in conjunction with Global Guardians, asked whether property guardianship could provide shelter to less vulnerable homeless people, or people who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and are looking to reduce the cost of their rent, and 61% of respondents said it was worth exploring.