Property guardianship originated in the Netherlands, where it is known as ‘anti-kraak’ (anti-squat). It was first developed there in the 1990s to allow artists and students to get cheap and temporary ‘live/work’ space in cities, and, as its name suggests, as an alternative/preventative to a previously widespread practice of squatting as housing. Property guardianship quickly developed as a form of temporary housing and by 2007 it was estimated that as many as 8,000 people lived as property guardians just in the Netherlands, although from what we’ve heard we suspect this has been a lot higher. In the UK the largest property guardian companies are Camelot and Ad Hoc, both Dutch in origin. As property guardianship has been introduced in more countries, it has adapted according to property/housing/planing law and policy, so the legal framework is slightly different in this country. Over the last ten years the scheme has spread to other European countries, including:
Responses to property guardianship
In the Netherlands, there is a recently-formed Federation of Precarious Tenants (‘Bond Precaire Woonvormen’). This was set up as a membership organisation fighting for the rights of ‘flexible’ tenants, mainly those who are property guardians. They have lobbied and campaigned against the use of property guardians by local authorities and housing associations and run campaigns such as ‘Change The Lock!’, encouraging property guardians to take direct action to secure housing rights. The site is in Dutch but we’re planning to interview representatives of this organisation soon. In the meanwhile – Google Translate!