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What housing can learn from profit-driven property guardians

The Guardian
Property guardians protect empty offices as well as residential properties. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Property guardians protect empty offices as well as residential properties. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian


Last year, Channel 4's Great British Property Scandal drew attention to the million homes lying vacant in Britain, 350,000 of which have stood empty for more than six months. With demand for housing soaring, and housing providers struggling to find affordable ways to regenerate empty properties, private businesses have spotted a gap in the market.



Rising rents, unemployment and the growing cost of living has sparked a rapid expansion in the number of live-in property guardians. Property guardian firms act as middle men between landlords seeking security and tenants desperate for affordable accommodation. The arrangement allows landlords to secure empty property at a fraction of the cost of traditional protection, such as boarding up windows or employing security guards.

Meanwhile, in a bid to avoid crippling private sector rents, guardians exchange traditional tenancy rights and home comforts for cheaper licence payments, which average £65 per week in central London and £50 elsewhere.


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