Many people have been priced out of the London property market as prices have risen dramatically over the years. The rental sector is following a similar trend and becoming less and less affordable as prices rise as a result of higher demand. The situation is causing problems for people looking for homes but has given rise to a new class of tenants that refer to themselves as “property guardians”.
In the capital there are around 60,000 vacant homes in need of protection against squatters and other issues. Guardians live in these properties on a short term basis to care for them and ensure they are properly maintained. Many of them don’t pay rent; instead they cover administrative fees and other costs. Some even have contracts that dictate the term of the stay and requirements, particularly that the property remains pet free and properly maintained.
The practice is good for tenants, and also provides advantages for property owners. The short term basis means they can put the property on the market quickly if they come to sell, decide to move in themselves, or have another project in mind. It also offers savings because the price of a temporary tenant is much lower than a sophisticated security system and other measures needed to secure vacant properties.
Companies like Dot Dot Dot cater for the unique demands of London’s property owners and help them to find the right people to look after their properties with short term tenancies. They have a team of over 200 carefully vetted property guardians and take care to inspect homes every couple of weeks to make sure they are being looked after. Tenants pay very small fees to stay in properties but are also required to volunteer for a number of hours a week as part of the agreement. Last year their guardians did over 20,000 hours of voluntary work as part of their tenancies; the number is set to be even higher this year.