London developers are considering property guardians as a cheaper and safer alternative to protect their empty buildings before they start their renovations
Property developers who may have bought properties to develop for buy-to-let, but are unable to start on the renovations straight away for whatever reason, often find themselves having to rely on a variety of expensive methods in order to secure their empty buildings to protect them from damage, vandalism or possible occupation by squatters. This involves either bringing in expensive security firms that are unable to patrol the whole building 24 hors a day or boarding up the building/adding metal shuttering, which looks ugly, annoys the neighbours and can substantially devalue a neighbourhood.
Security firms can cost up to £12 per hour (£2000 per week) and costs will rise with the addition of dogs and/or security systems. Metal shuttering can be off-putting to a potential buyer and inspections can prove difficult. It’s also expensive to install them: on average, they cost approximately £100 per week (for about 6 windows/doors). All of these costs soon mount up, especially as a shuttered property is likely to remain on the market for longer.
Wooden boarding is less effective than shuttering, as boards can be removed easily by anyone wanting to gain access. If boarding is forcibly removed, damage may be caused and there will then be an additional cost to replace it or to take out a different form of security. To avoid the need for either security firms or boarding up, some developers consider the option of a live in property guardian.
We spoke to Guardians of London who specialise in providing this service:-
What are the benefits of a property guardian?
“There are plenty of benefits to a guardian in an empty property, the key one being cost. Developers can avoid the need for either security firms or boarding up and will only pay a fraction of the cost. The presence of guardians in the building 24 hours a day will bring peace of mind to both the developer and the neighbourhood. They also help to protect the building against dilapidation, as any potential problems such as leaks can be spotted early and dealt with immediately.
The property is kept aired and heated, preventing further deterioration and insurance premiums on the property can be reduced, as the property is no longer vacant. An even bigger benefit to the developer is that their presence helps to mitigate against the developer having to pay 100% business rates (normally payable after the first 3 months of the property being vacated). Add to that the revenue that developers can make from a percentage of the weekly licence fee (rather than monthly rent) that the guardians pay and it makes total sense for a developer to go down the property guardian route to secure their empty building.”
How do you select your guardians?
“All of our property guardians are carefully vetted beforehand and are normally young professionals, sometimes key workers. They must be in full-time employment and have to adhere to a strict code of rules such as not having any parties and not using candles or any naked flames, which can be a fire risk.”
What type of properties are suitable?
“A wide variety of buildings can be adapted for property guardians, including former schools, Royal Mail sorting offices, warehouses, pubs, ex-care homes or office blocks. We will always inspect a property first before putting guardians into it, in order to conduct a fire risk assessment and evaluate whether the building is habitable, air and watertight and whether it has kitchen and shower/toilet facilities on site. If not, we will install both at a low cost to the developer. Once guardians are installed in a building, we will then carry out bi-weekly inspections, to check for leaks, rubbish, fly-tipping and mould etc”
How can London developers get in touch?
“Any property developers with empty properties that need securing can get in touch with Guardian of London via the following methods:-”
Telephone: 0203 463 9787