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Property Guardian companies conduct first census of the sector

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Contact PGPA: 07722282946

London 18 December 2018

Property Guardian companies conduct first census of the sector 

  • 90% of property guardians were accommodated in same property for 6 months or more
  • 1 in 4 property guardians have been in the same accommodation for over 18 months
  • 25% of guardians are in their thirties
  • Over 60% paid less than £500 a month in license fees

The first ever census conducted by the UK's major property guardian providers has thrown up some myth-busting data on this niche property sector, which matches temporarily vacant buildings up with people seeking low-cost accommodation.

Compiled from data of members of the Property Guardian Providers Association (the PGPA), whose membership manage some 80% of the sector, the census supplies information on the number of guardians, their age range, occupations, length of stay and the cost of their accommodation, as well the spend the management companies had to budget for, to ensure the properties met health and safety regulations.

" The PGPA has only just been formally constituted, with aim of setting high health and safety standards for the sector. Members who sign up must commit to meeting those benchmarks." explains Graham Sievers, the Acting Chairman for the PGPA. "So apart from commissioning currently the most comprehensive legal benchmark on the laws that protects guardians, we wanted to obtain a clearer picture of the sector as it currently stands. One of the government's key objectives in their housing policy is to help key workers be able to live closer to their employment, and so it's quite heartening to see that almost a third of our guardians are teachers, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers."

"Buildings that become vacant, such as care homes, schools, pubs or offices that have closed down, can attract vandalism, squatters or suffer general neglect whilst their long-term future is determined. Bringing them into a safe and habitable state enables property guardians to live in them, helping the buildings be far more secure than if they were left vacant. At the same time, the guardians have a license agreement to pay fees that are commonly half the cost of the equivalent accommodation in the private rental sector. In return, when planning permission or development plans come to fruition, the guardians are committed to a 28-day notice to leave." Mr Sievers says.

The census data indicates that 89% of guardians stay in the same property for six months or more, and 60% for a year or more. One in four guardians remain in the same accommodation for over 18 months.

Whilst the largest proportion of guardians (45%) are in their twenties, a quarter are in their thirties, and one in eight (12%) are in their forties.

In terms of occupations, those working in the arts and creative industries form 35%  of guardians, whilst key workers are the next biggest employment group, with 30%, and one in five (20%) are from the medical, accountancy or legal professions.

The majority of guardians (60%) paid less than £500  a month for their accommodation,  20% paid £500-£700 a month, 15% £700-£900 a month and only 5% paid more than £900.

"Property guardianship is not a long-term solution to the housing shortage. But where on one hand you have buildings standing empty, and on the other, people who want to save up to buy their own home, and/or live near their place of work, then the benefits of a healthy property guardian sector are clear. We need to make sure that the properties used for these programmes are healthy, safe and inhabitable,  and that the management companies operate good practices. By doing so, the guardian experience will be a positive one, property owners can reduce the costs of a vacant building, and responsibly run management companies can help grow a sector that could be housing 100,000 guardians within the next few years." concludes Graham Sievers.


Attached - the census data 

For more information, or for an interview with the PGPA, a member company or with a guardian, please contact:

Graham Sievers  07722282946


"The Law on Property Guardianship"  commissioned by the PGPA, written by Giles Peaker, Partner, Anthony Gold Solicitors; Andrew Arden, QC, Andrew Dymond, Barrister, Arden Chambers. Published by seven UK property guardian providers, members of the PGPA

The Property Guardian Providers Association promotes best practice, safety and standards across the industry, to ensure that all legal and safety standards and regulations are adhered to or exceeded by its members. Its members believe that property guardianship not only helps to secure temporarily vacant properties, but should be a safe and viable low-cost accommodation, where all stakeholders can benefit from the best practices business model the PGPA expects of its members.

Three current approved benchmarks, which members must commit to in order join the Association:

  • Transparency of fees
  • Guardian Money: Safeguarding Security Payments
  • The PGPA Redress Panel

All three are published on the PGPA website.

Currently seeking the establishment of national fire, health, safety, and environmental audits both at members' offices and at guardian properties.

The PGPA was formed in September 2018, & was welcomed across the house by the House of Lords in a property guardians debate, Oct 15th. They have since met twice with the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.

Current membership:


Camelot Europe

DEX Property

Guardians of London

Live-in Guardians

Lowe Guardians

VPS Guardians