'Property guardians' to protect empty homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
'Property guardians' are set to move into empty homes in Widnes, Cheshire to keep them safe, secure and free of vandalism.
For a small fee, the guardians will live in flats on Clapgate Crescent belonging to Halton Housing Trust until they are ready for long-term letting.
Sourced from Ad Hoc, a nationwide property management company that finds licensees for hundreds of empty buildings across the UK, the guardians come from a long waiting list of vetted professionals who are drawn to low cost rents and short contracts.
John Dale, Halton's area maintenance manager, said: “The Trust is completely transforming flat blocks on Clapgate Crescent – it’s a massive job which will bring the blocks very much into the 21st century.
“We currently have some empty flats and rather than leave them vacant and uninhabited and open to vandalism, we wanted people to live in them, to take good care of them. I’ve only recently heard about property guardians and I think it’s a fantastic idea as it means that our homes will be kept safe and secure in exchange for minimal rent.”
Halton chose the option of property guardians rather than using faceless and remotely managed CCTV, believing their presence will be a reassurance to nearby tenants.
Antony Foy, business development manager at Ad Hoc, said: “It’s becoming increasingly popular for housing trusts to use guardians until their properties come back into use. So many people have signed up to become property guardians over recent years because they see it as a way to save money. The low licence fee, (as little as £35 a week) allows people to save for a mortgage or build up long-term savings.
“We vet all our guardians before we sign them up – they have to be employed and keep all properties clean and tidy. When a licence comes to an end we always do our best to rehouse people within the local area.
"There’s such a variety of properties on our books ranging from grand stately homes, to office blocks and schools, so being a guardian can be a really interesting experience."