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What are my rights as a Property Guardian? 

Property Guardians live in a property under a licence to occupy, with a role to make sure that the property is properly looked after and not damaged. Properties occupied by guardians are often buildings that are at risk of being used by squatters or in some way damaged but may be used at some point for redevelopment. These can include disused hospitals and schools.

Property Guardians are different from private (assured shorthold) tenants in a few different ways:  

  • A property guardian resides in the property under a licence to occupy rather than a tenancy agreement. 
  • Property guardians do not have the same protection as tenants from eviction – a Property Guardian can be evicted with just 28 days notice rather than the current minimum of two months under Section 21.
  • Despite the differences in notice periods, if the eviction notice expires and the Property Guardian does not move out, a lawful eviction can usually only be carried out by court-appointed bailiffs.  
  • Similarly, there is no agreed upon definition of a Property Guardian outside the broad listed above. This means that it can be tricky to assert that you are a Property Guardian if you get into any kind of difficulty.  

Property guardianship has become a cheaper option for some renters, particularly younger renters in cities, because the amount of rent that is charged for being a Property Guardian has been historically significantly lower than that a private renter would pay.  In 2022 the Property Guardian Providers Association estimated that 50,000 people would apply to be Property Guardians. However the number of actual property guardians is estimated to be much lower – around 5-7,000.

Whilst the rent is lower there are a number of downsides. As well as those noted above, guardians do not have:

Property Guardians do have the right to not be unlawfully evicted. Some Property Guardian Companies are part of the Property Guardian Providers Association meaning that they do abide by an industry redress scheme and will be more likely to protect your deposit. However, this scheme is not government approved and most Property Guardian Companies are not a part of it.

Read more about your rights as a Property Guardian on the Shelter website or the government’s own advice. Contact your local council’s environmental health department if you have concerns about a Property Guardian company here.

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