Why it can pay to become a property guardian

The former Laurel Bank care home, which Ad Hoc, is lookng after. Rooms are available from �100 per month.
The former Laurel Bank care home, which Ad Hoc, is lookng after. Rooms are available from �100 per month.
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Becoming a property guardian could help you save for a home or supplement your pension. Sharon Dale reports.

Saving to buy your own home isn’t easy when you’re part of that growing demographic known as Generation Rent.

A large chunk of your income goes to your landlord and when you’ve settled your energy bills and forked out for council tax, there’s very little disposable income left.

One solution is to become a property guardian. While length of tenure is uncertain and the property may not be des-res, you can dramatically cut living costs.

Ad Hoc’s living spaces start from £99 a month and an increasing number of young people are using them to save for a deposit on their own home.

A Dutch company that imported its successful business model to Britain 11 years ago, Ad Hoc turns empty buildings into temporary homes saving the owners a small fortune in insurance and security bills.The only costs for the property owner are the utility bills.

The firm now has ten UK offices, including one in York, which covers the whole of Yorkshire. The empty properties they care range from office blocks and churches to care homes and odd private home.

In the case of commercial premises with few facilities, they can install shower cubicles and create somewhere to cook.

Guardians must be over 21, in work and able to provide references. Children, pets and smoking are not allowed.

Rent, which includes bills and council tax, is termed as a licence fee. In Yorkshire, the cost starts from £99 per person per month for a room in a shared property. The average cost is £200 per person a month, though this may be reduced if couples share. The length of placements varies but guardians are given at least 28 days’ notice to leave.

“The only thing we ask of our guardians is that they move into a building and show it is occupied and report any issues. There are no security duties. Just having someone living there is a big deterrent..”

The Yorkshire branch of Ad Hoc has a number of guardian opportunities at the moment, including Calderdale Council’s Northgate House offices in Halifax, which closed last year. It has been converted in 17 temporary living spaces and, according to Ad Hoc, it has “ some of the best views in Yorkshire”.

The accommodation ranges from double bedrooms to large open plan office spaces, all sharing a kitchen and newly-installed showers. The licence fees range from £100 to £270 per calendar month,

More conventional is the former Laurel Bank Nursing Home in Halifax. The 37 bedroom property, which sits in 1.6 acres of private grounds. Rooms there command a licence fee of £100 pcm.

Also on the Ad Hoc books at the moment is a former office block in Dewsbury and a period building in Huddersfield with spaces from £195 pcm. Rooms in a vicarage in Stokesley are from £195 pcm.

Property guardianship is also an option for retired people who want to top up their pensions.

Homesitters actively looks for “caretakers” who are mature and many of those who work for the company are retired.

The business specialises in looking after properties for owners who are away on holiday or for business and personal reasons.

Caretakers, who may also be required to look after homeowners’ pets, are paid £19.60 a day but cannot leave the building empty for more than three hours.

Homesitters has recently expanded its remit and now deals with empty homes, including those awaiting probate or planning permission, and commercial buildings.

Homesitters chairman Alan Irvine says: “Most insurers won’t cover a property if it is left unoccupied for 30 days or more, and although there is no set turn around for probate, it can take up to nine months to be granted, which is a long time for a property to remain empty.

“Owners of commercial property are also increasingly using our services. Property caretakers not only act as a vandalism deterrent, but they help reduce the risks of damage from fires, leaking gas or bursts pipes.

*For detaills visit www.adhocproperty.co.uk and www.homesitters.co.uk