Apologies for such infrequent updating. This research is ongoing and we’re looking forward to putting more information up in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, a brief round-up:
1) There is a very good, long piece about property guardians, guardian companies, the law and local authorities over at The Guardian (24th Dec 2015). Lots of good interesting stuff in here but the standout points for us are:
- The conditions for guardians are worsening as the number of them increases. Examples include overcrowding, poor building management, illegal evictions, etc. Newbould Guardians in particular don’t come out of this piece well.
- Giving guardians notice to leave the property in less than four weeks is illegal. The Protection From Eviction Act applies in residential situations and no guardian contract can overrule this.
- The relationship between local government, property guardianship and austerity. ‘Councils in London have a complicated relationship with guardian companies because, as well as regulating them, they are among their top clients, as buildings that once provided vital services to the community are repurposed as sources of income.’ Local authorities are not only major clients for PG, they also miss out on income because of it. When private owners repurpose their commercial premises as domestic ones when guardians move in. This is perfectly legal, and with business rates now being collected locally rather than nationally, local government, already hit by massive funding cuts, loses out again. For more on local authorities, this is a great – and shocking – case study from Inside Housing.
2) Guardians on TV -A new Channel comedy 4 series, Crashing, details the lives of guardians in an old hospital building. As one guardian friend puts it ‘Only 6 people in a hospital building? In 2009 maybe!’ We’ve heard from long-term guardians that people are being packed more densely into big buildings, creating maximum profit for the PG company and sometimes the owners too. It’s a shame no-one’s putting on a documentary series, though maybe this will have more laughs…. Details about the series, which starts on 11th January, are here .
3) Property guardianship and regeneration in London
We were intrigued to read this post by Global Guardians, promoting their partnership in a regeneration plan in S.London. It seems that partnerships like this are becoming more common (though see above comments on local authorities). Another point to note – if Global Guardians alone have 1000 guardians, then the national estimate of 4000 is surely too low. Could there be more like 7-10,000 people living as guardians now?