Property Guardians – a risky business

Posted: March 4, 2013 in articles
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A blog post for the excellent Landlord Law Blog run by Tessa Shepperson on Property Guardians and why I think they’re problematic.

“Over the past couple of years a clutch of feature articles and comment pieces have lauded the concept of Property Guardians.

These are people who register with an agency who manage empty property (for example, which is due to be converted or knocked down).”  Read more

  1. Hi Samira,

    I have read your article and find it interesting but also a little bit inaccurate on the property guardian industry.

    I work on the logistics side of a property guardian company called Global Guardians and we have different ethics and ethos to the companies you are discussing.

    As a bit of background, for 7 years I used to work for one of the bigger companies that started this industry in the UK. I understand exactly what is spoken about such as no heating, no known timescale and the more cloak and dagger aspects. However, this is something that is changing in the industry and we have consciously attempted to change it over the past couple of years.

    Perhaps you would like to have an open discussion about this and meet some of our guardians who are benefitting from the situation?

    As an example, on New Year’s Eve we took over the management of two vacant properties from one of our competitors and one of the two biggest property guardian companies in the UK at present. Our competitor had a poor reputation with the property owner and the guardians who wanted to stay in the building but under our management.

    We attended site in the freezing cold with the owner and it was warmer outside of the property than inside. The property guardians had been keeping themselves warm by turning the oven on in the kitchen! Within two minutes of locating the heating system we turned it back on. This was met with an almost jubilant shout of triumph by the guardians.

    Within the next few days we arranged for all of the maintenance issues to be fixed. From broken showers, to blocked toilets, to windows not closing, to re-activating the fire alarm panel.

    Our cleaners attended site and cleaned all communal areas in the building making it fresh and clean.

    All rooms that had been locked out of bounds were opened. New property guardians were vetted and introduced to the building.

    The term of the contract was advised to us by the client and in turn we have advised the guardians likewise.

    The property is still under our management and the guardians have an excellent community there.

    The other property only lasted under our management for 3 months because it was due to be sold and developed. But again we only placed a few carefully chosen guardians to live in the property and told them the time scale. They understood the situation and the majority are still living with us in different properties, with one due to come back to us after they have been out of the country travelling.

    The way I see the industry developing is in reaction to a cut throat ‘throw-’em-in-and-take-their-money’ attitude to something far more ethical and long lasting. It is something I am happy to help progress accordingly.

    I recall in my time with the former company the main motive seemed to be cheap and not so cheerful living. Now it encompasses a whole host of social advantages not even considered in the dark early days of the industry.

    One of our main aims is to address this issue and create communities of guardians in each of our properties. We try to save guardians money on their accommodation, and still supply them with essentials such as heating. We provide fridges, cookers, freezers, microwaves, mops and buckets, hoovers in the communal properties. Wherever possible we recycle furniture for the guardians to use. On some buildings we pay for our cleaners to clean the communal areas.

    Yes we uphold rules and regulations but again we are fair and reasonable with this. For example, people are allowed to visit as long as we are advised for long visits for our fire safety records.

    At present we are not allowed to house families but we are looking into this as a new area of our development.

    There are many new ideas that we are currently working on to make the whole guardian experience more open and welcoming.

    So perhaps we could talk about this further if you are interested in hearing from a different type of guardian company?

    Kind regards

    Global Guardians

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