Yesterday a debate at the London Assembly Housing Committee took place to discuss all aspects of property guardianship from legal rights, health & safety compliance through to the reasons why property guardian licences are not tenancy agreements.
The panel included: two members of York University who are carrying out research on property guardians for the committee, the shadow spokesperson for communities, a local government housing and home affairs officer, a strategic assets officer from a local authority, an environmental officer from another local authority and a senior person from a guardian company.
Such a debate has been long over due and it’s good to see that moves are being made to level the field in terms of the operational standards expected from all guardian companies and how the guardians that occupy otherwise vacant properties are treated.
At PGP we are already way, way ahead of the curve in terms of the standards of accommodation and services that we provide to our guardians compared to the rest of the UK guardian industry and many private landlords.
We haven’t had to carry out any research to arrive at this conclusion. Our guardians tell us every day. But that’s not news to us.
PGP’s team have all witnessed first-hand how some of these companies, including the ones that first set up guardianship schemes in the UK have shown total disregard for their guardians welfare and neglected to maintain their clients’ buildings.
We could not wait to set-up a company with an ethically minded approach to running a property guardianship and the objective to become the established ‘third way’ for people to live in London and beyond.
PGP are passionate about protecting both our clients’ properties and our guardian community. We are proud to be given this responsibility and of the opportunity that we provide people who temporarily live in the properties we manage.
London in particular depends hugely upon those in lower wage employment as well as creative and entrepreneurial talent. Without these people living in the capital, the city cannot function let alone evolve. These people need to live in places where there is a huge shortage of accommodation with transport costs kept to a minimum and productivity to a maximum.
It’s clear on hearing from the York University members on the GLA panel that they do not have much data regarding property guardian demographics. The facts are:
1.People from all walks of life are choosing to become property guardians.
2. Property guardians are all working professionals or post graduate students over the age of 21.
3. Property guardian life is attracting people who have been renting privately but are willing to live flexibly and reduce their costs
4. They have one thing in common: without guardian schemes many of these people would simply not be able to do what they do .
The GLA panel covered a broad range of relevant issues including the minimum notice period of 28 days that is required before handing back a property, the many hidden charges raised by guardian companies that only come to light once a new guardian signs up, and even the ‘gag clauses’ that accompany many guardian licences.
These things are counter-productive to the spirit of property guardianship and do nothing to protect either the properties or the guardians.
PGP has always given a 28 day minimum notice period, carried out all safety checks and fulfilled compliance standards when it comes to Health and Safety. We also decorate, provide cleaners (and internet if possible). We believe that better managed properties are more secure and work alongside the guardians to deliver a positive service.
We do not impose hidden or additional costs (ie. fire pack charges, ‘admin’ fees etc) and will never do so.
We are real people and treat everyone fairly. As an ethically minded, open and transparent company we would never dream of putting a gagging clause in our guardian licence. We are all about communication and collaboration with our guardian community.
PGP are looking forward to taking part in this ongoing forum and even though we are ruffling the feathers of some of the longer established property guardian companies with our fresh approach they need to realise that the “gold standard” of guardianship being discussed is already in play at PGP and we aren’t going to stop there.