Property Guardians: An Innovative Solution to Vacant Buildings

Wednesday, 3rd January 2024

What are Property Guardians?

Property guardianship is an innovative concept that seeks to address the issue of vacant and derelict buildings. It involves individuals or groups of people living in empty properties temporarily, preventing them from falling into disrepair and dilapidation. These individuals, known as property guardians, do not legally own or rent the space but rather act as live-in security, maintaining and protecting the building.

How does it work?

Property guardian companies work closely with property owners to identify suitable vacant buildings. These properties can range from commercial buildings, warehouses, schools, to residential units. Once the property is identified, it undergoes necessary safety measures and is divided into smaller living spaces. These spaces are then offered to individuals or groups who are willing to become property guardians.

Property guardians are required to sign a license agreement with the property guardian company, outlining their responsibilities and rights during their occupancy. They typically pay a reduced rental fee, making it an affordable living option - a crucial factor in high-cost urban areas. The property guardian company carefully screens individuals, ensuring they meet certain criteria, such as having a stable income, no criminal record, and the ability to maintain the space.

Benefits for Guardians and Property Owners


For property guardians, the benefits are numerous. Firstly, it provides an opportunity for affordable housing in desirable locations. Many property guardianship schemes offer flexible contracts, allowing individuals to relocate without long-term commitments. This suits young professionals, students, and those seeking a temporary living arrangement.

Additionally, property guardianship often fosters a sense of community among the occupants. Many schemes organize social events, encouraging interaction and networking between guardians. This contributes to a supportive environment, so guardians never feel isolated.

Property Owners

Property owners who engage in property guardianship benefit from having their buildings occupied and maintained by responsible guardians. The presence of guardians reduces the risk of theft, vandalism, and squatting. Moreover, property guardian companies oversee regular inspections, ensuring the property's upkeep and that health and safety regulations are met.

Through property guardianship, owners can avoid the expenses associated with heavy security measures or extensive maintenance to prevent the property's deterioration. Additionally, some property guardianship schemes assist with refurbishment, making properties more attractive for potential buyers or long-term tenants.

Challenges and Limitations

While property guardianship has gained popularity, it is not without its challenges. Firstly, some critics argue that it can prolong the issue of empty properties rather than tackling the root cause. Instead of renovating the buildings for long-term use, property owners may prolong their vacancy by relying on guardians to maintain them temporarily.

Furthermore, the legal status of property guardians can make it challenging for them to claim tenant rights or secure long-term occupancy. Since the agreement is based on a license rather than a lease, guardians have limited legal protections compared to traditional tenants.

The Future of Property Guardianship

Despite the challenges, property guardianship offers a promising solution to the problem of vacant buildings. Its ability to provide affordable housing and protect properties from deterioration is increasingly recognised by property owners, local authorities, and communities.

As the concept evolves, there is a growing need for clearer regulations and guidelines to protect the rights of property guardians. This will ensure that property guardianship remains a sustainable and mutually beneficial arrangement for both guardians and property owners. With proper legal frameworks in place, property guardianship can continue to grow as an innovative solution to the persistent issue of empty buildings in our cities.