Low rents and quirky accommodation: property guardianship in the capital

With living costs soaring, many feel they have been priced out of the capital, but could property guardianship provide the answer to extortionate rents? 

Property guardians provide live-in security for vacant buildings, in return for affordable accommodation in prime city-centre locations.

With venues varying from theatres to abandoned office blocks, property guardianship is promoted as a win-win solution for both property owners and guardians.

Boyan Boyanov, a holistic therapist and property guardian of 18 months, said: “My home is very central actually, it is next to Clapham Common. It’s a big house, it was originally an old people’s home.

“The lifestyle is very community orientated from morning until night. There is great interaction with the others who live in the place during your meals while you are cooking as the kitchens are shared, or during your free time because the living rooms are shared.”

Property guardianship is not just for young professionals or artistic types seeking low rents.

Boyanov said: “I know people that have been here for 10 years who are really well educated with a good income, but they just love it.

“It’s like a big happy family its absolutely beautiful, I mean I have never felt so good in my own home.”

Boyan Boyanov talks about his experiences as a property guardian with global guardians.

The coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on many people who are having to pay high London rents, and property guardianship can provide a low-cost alternative. 

Tim Lowe, Founder & Director of LOWE Guardians said: “We know that many of our guardians are facing a challenging and uncertain future from an economic standpoint while the consequences of COVID-19 are still unravelling.”

Despite the promise of low-cost accommodation, property guardianship schemes have been criticised for their insecurity, as in the past tenancies have been ended abruptly leaving guardians stranded.

Lauren Marshall, Head of Innovation at Global Guardians said: “In the vast majority of cases we have properties lined up for existing guardians to move into when their licences come to an end.”

“We wouldn’t do what we do unless our guardians were at the heart of it.”

Rex Duis, a voice actor and property guardian of over 10 years, campaigns for improved rights for property guardians.

He said: “When they started doing this is wasn’t clear what the position was legally, because the laws were written in the 70s and the 80s around housing rights.

“So it wasn’t clear to the agencies, to the councils or to the guardians what the minimum notice period was.

“We are all on the same page now. Property guardians are legally supposed to be given 28 days notice.

“The thing I want to stress is the whole legal issue surrounding property guardianship is not as grey as it used to be.

“Guardianship can be great. You can live in really cool buildings in really good locations, and if you are on a budget then you can get into really good accommodation in central London.”

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