Safety first: the law on property guardians

A white paper published at the end of 2017 sets out the legal and safety obligations for guardians and property owners. It has been issued by the UK’s seven leading property guardian companies, including our own, Guardians of London, to drive up standards and to help inform and safeguard the interests of both property owners and guardians.

Gavin Handman
29th January 2018

‘The Law on Property Guardians’ white paper details the current legal status for guardians, the compliance requirements and the health and safety obligations that providers of property guardian schemes must meet. Written by a prominent, independent legal team, comprising a leading housing lawyer, a QC and a barrister, the white paper sets out to ensure better practice in the industry through a common standard.

The group met regularly throughout 2017 to set up the Property Guardian Providers’ Association. Firstly, the providers wanted to benchmark what is the current legal status of a guardian and what the obligations are for the owners or management companies for premises being used to house guardians. Our Association hopes that this document will help inform all stakeholders and support our aim to promote best practice across the industry, advocating that all legal and safety standards and regulations are adhered to or exceeded by all property guardian providers.

Essentially, we want to ensure that running a property guardians’ scheme not only provides one means, albeit very small, to alleviate the pressure on housing across the UK, but does so ethically and safely.

Three points that emerge from the white paper (available to view in full here) are:

1)    Health and safety requirements apply to all buildings where property guardians live, whether they are commercial, residential or other types.

2)    Fire safety, gas safety and any potential on-site hazards fall under the same regulations as tenants and are enforceable by the same authorities.

3)    Property guardians sign-up as licensees, not tenants: two of the key differences include non-exclusive occupation of the premises and shorter notices to leave. In return, guardians live in low-cost accommodation.

The group commissioned top housing lawyer, Giles Peaker, and a principal QC and barrister-in-law from Arden Chambers, Andrew Arden and Andrew Dymond to draw up the white paper.

We are confident that the formation of our Association and the extensive provisions detailed in the white paper will go a long way towards our objective of raising standards for guardians and helping to inform and safeguard the interests of both property owners and guardians going forward.

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