Guardians sav­ing for a fu­ture in some­one else’s home

If rent is stop­ping you sav­ing for a de­posit on your own home, you could cut costs by be­com­ing a prop­erty guardian. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

RENT­ING in the cen­tre of York isn’t cheap, so John Teal is en­ti­tled to feel smug af­ter se­cur­ing cut-price digs that come with a fancy ti­tle.

He is an of­fi­cial prop­erty guardian and his room in a for­mer nurs­ing home costs him just £205 a month all in with no util­ity bills and no coun­cil tax.

“It’s within the city walls just yards from Mick­le­gate with plenty of park­ing so it’s a re­ally sought-af­ter lo­ca­tion, says John, a driver. “If I rented a onebed­room flat here it would be £700 a month plus bills so it’s a big sav­ing.”

He has been a guardian with se­cu­rity com­pany Ad Hoc for over three years and ap­plied af­ter his land­lord put the prop­erty he was rent­ing on the mar­ket. Ad Hoc, which turns com­mer­cial build­ings into tem­po­rary homes, is a con­cept started in the Nether­lands 20 years ago.

It was launched by a com­pany di­rec­tor’s son, whose fa­ther had an empty build­ing that had prob­lems with theft and dam­age. He was a stu­dent who needed some­where cheap to live and so he turned it into tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion for him­self and oth­ers.

The firm opened its first UK branch in 2006 in Lon­don and now has ten of­fices in the UK, in­clud­ing one in York that cov­ers the whole county.

The build­ings they care for are di­verse and range from of­fice blocks and li­braries to leisure cen­tres and churches. They also in­clude the odd pri­vate home. The only stip­u­la­tion is that they’re wind and wa­ter­tight and have some­where to wash and cook.

Ad Hoc has looked af­ter tower blocks set for de­mo­li­tion and units on a busi­ness park but they also had three peo­ple shar­ing a £13.5m.

Those who want to be­come guardians must be in work, be able to pro­vide ref­er­ences and have no de­pen­dants or pets liv­ing with them. They aren’t al­lowed par­ties and they can’t smoke on the premises.

The rent is termed as a li­cence fee and ranges from £120 a month for some­where very ba­sic with a makeshift bath­room and kitchen to £450 a month in Lon­don.

John’s first place­ment with Ad Hoc was at a for­mer chil­dren’s cen­tre in York.

“I wanted a tem­po­rary fix but it works so well for me that I’ve stayed with them, al­though I’d like to save up to buy a place of my own. That’s the rea­son a lot of peo­ple be­come guardians. One guy I know has saved £15,000 by rent­ing with Ad Hoc for three years.”

He adds: “I lived at the chil­dren’s cen­tre for over three years and shared it with four other peo­ple. It was quite ba­sic with a shared shower and kitchen but I had the old com­puter room, which was a bonus. I had 32 plug sock­ets.

“The care home I’m liv­ing in now is shared with 11 other peo­ple and it’s a bit more lux­u­ri­ous. There are more show­ers and we have a shared kitchen.”

Place­ments last an aver­age of eight months, though some can be as short as two or they may last sev­eral years, so if you want se­cu­rity of ten­ure, this way of liv­ing may not be for you.

You are given a min­i­mum of two weeks’ no­tice to leave if the owner wants the build­ing back, so trav­el­ling light is es­sen­tial.

“I don’t have lots of be­long­ings and I also have a bed­room at my dad’s house so I have a con­tin­gency plan if I am des­per­ate but Ad­Hoc will try and place you else­where if pos­si­ble and there’s an 98 per cent chance of that hap­pen­ing,” says John.

This kind of un­cer­tainty hasn’t put peo­ple off the al­ter­na­tive form of rent­ing. Zoe Oakes of Ad Hoc says the in­ex­pen­sive, com­mu­nal liv­ing of­fered by the com­pany is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar.

It is prov­ing es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to cre­atives, in­clud­ing artists, ac­tors, dancers and mu­si­cians.

“They ben­e­fit from the ex­tra space in com­mer­cial build­ings where they can re­hearse. We have a pi­anist liv­ing in a church, which he loves be­cause he has three big pi­anos in there,” says Zoe, who adds: “A lot of guardians use us to save for a de­posit for their own place and we just had one cou­ple liv­ing with us so they could save for their wed­ding.

“There are a mil­lion va­cant properties in Bri­tain and this is a so­cially re­spon­si­ble way of putting them to use. Ev­ery­one ben­e­fits. The guardians get in­ex­pen­sive ac­com­mo­da­tion and the owner has peace of mind that the build­ing is be­ing looked af­ter. If there’s a leak it will be fixed and the guardians pro­tect the build­ing from squat­ting, crim­i­nal­ity and van­dal­ism. It saves the prop­erty owner money and they have 24-hour se­cu­rity, which is 80 per cent cheaper than hav­ing a con­ven­tional se­cu­rity.”

While liv­ing with a bunch of strangers might not ini­tially ap­peal, John be­lieves it’s one of the many ben­e­fits.

“You meet peo­ple from all walks of life and many of them have pro­fes­sional jobs. At the mo­ment I’m shar­ing with a fu­neral di­rec­tor and an ap­pren­tice stone­ma­son. It’s an in­ter­est­ing way of liv­ing and it’s cer­tainly very eco­nom­i­cal.”

IN WITH THE NEW: The Old Barn has a sen­sa­tional new look thanks to a mod­ern makeover. The own­ers also added a leisure suite with con­tem­po­rary, glass-walled swim­ming pool.

HOUS­ESIT­TER: John Teal, who has been a prop­erty guardian with the Ad Hoc com­pany for over three years

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