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Blog 01.11.17

The problem with property guardians

What property owners need to know about squatting and illegal occupancy

With squatting in domestic properties illegal since 2012, business and commercial premises are now more likely to be targeted instead. Property owners must make sure they’re protected from the risks of squatters occupying their site: property damage, anti-social behaviour and legal expenses, to name but a few.

One approach to safeguarding property is using a guardian company. Guardians - frequently students or creative professionals looking for a low-cost, no frills place to live - move into the premises to provide occupancy and deter potential squatters, while paying fees to the company.

A false economy?

Although this appears to be a win-win situation for both the guardians and property owners, in practice there are a number of risks to be aware of. Owners have little control over who’s living on site and how many are accessing it at any time, guardians do not need and are unlikely to hold professional security qualifications, and unscrupulous operators may exploit both parties. However, one of biggest risks is only emerging now.

Recent test cases mean guardians may now be regarded as de facto tenants under the law. With the same legal rights as tenants, they can cause a major headache for property owners if guardians decide to stay on in the property after their ‘tenancy’ comes to an end. Owners may need to undertake a lengthy legal process to evict them and regain possession of their premises, incurring significant costs along the way.

Trust the professionals

Savvy property owners are already rethinking their strategy and looking at alternative solutions. Having the site occupied is still the best deterrent for squatters, but for peace of mind it’s best to turn to the professionals. Vigilance’s dedicated live-in security personnel are consistently present looking after the property, controlling access for all comers and providing coherent protection against every eventuality. Our fully licenced team has the training, the qualifications and the experience to ensure property is in the safest of hands. And of course, there’s no risk of us outstaying our welcome.

Get in touch for more information about this subject and other security fundamentals. 

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