Protecting London's property guardians
Property guardianship is a relatively unknown housing choice in the UK, but it is a rapidly growing phenomenon.
Property guardians protect vacant commercial and residential property by occupation. This short-term accommodation is usually at below-market rent levels.
With a shortage of affordable housing in London, the profile of property guardians has changed significantly in recent years. Where previously it may have been young people and students who were primarily property guardians, our research showed this is no longer the case. Property guardians are often professionals, working full time and ranging in age from the early twenties to over 60.
However, there are growing concerns with the expansion of property guardianship in London. What legal rights do property guardians have? How can the sector make improvements to better protect property guardians?
The Committee commissioned research from the University of York, and heard from property guardians, property owners and property guardian companies about the nature and size of this emerging sector.
- There are between 5,000 and 7,000 property guardians in the UK, with London having the lion’s share of the figure.
- There are over 1,000 property guardians protecting local authority buildings in London.
- Property guardians spend on average 37 per cent of their income on accommodation.
- The average property guardian income is £24,800 – significantly lower than the average income in the private-rented sector.
- The average property guardian license fee in London is £475 a month.
- The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government should review current legislation and guidance to ensure Property Guardians can benefit from improvements made to the private rented sector.
- The Mayor and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government should provide guidance about the legal rights of guardians and where guardians can access help.
- The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government should require all Property Guardian companies to register with a recognised property agents redress scheme. This would allow guardians to raise concerns about a company in a ‘safe-space’.
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