In Liverpool, there are currently more than 3,000 homes and hundreds of other properties that have been vacant for more than six months. Vacant properties are a green light for squatters, vandals and other sorts of anti-social behaviour that affect whole communities. Last year alone, there were 6,066 reports of anti-social behaviour and 1,748 reports of criminal damage and arson in Liverpool. This is a drain on local authority resources and property owners are left with costly repair bills and higher insurance premiums.
A potential solution
One way of tackling this problem is property guardianship. The idea, pioneered by Ad Hoc Property Management across Europe and in the UK, places working professionals, ‘Guardians’, into empty buildings on flexible licence fees. The Licensees get an affordable place to live and save money, and empty properties are secured and maintained by the presence; this can also have a regenerating effect on the wider area. Live-in guardians not only prevent properties from falling into disrepair, but they can reduce insurance, security and damage costs – something that should be high on the agenda for local authorities and property across the country.
“If more property owners and councils were aware of the benefits of property guardianship, there would be less vacant properties around the city. This would not only bring buildings and areas back to life, but it would also save money on costs attributed to vandalism, asset stripping and associated anti-social issues. Our solution is more cost effective versus traditional security measures. ” said Alan McLaren, Liverpool Area Manager, Ad Hoc.
A case in point
One property certainly benefiting from Guardianship is St Austin’s church and presbytery in Liverpool. This beautiful building in the Cressington area dates back to 1838, and is a Grade II Listed building comprised of two buildings sitting on 52 acres – the former church itself, and the beautiful presbytery, adjoining it at the rear.
In September 2015, the church closed its doors to the public and went on the market. While waiting for a buyer, the owners contacted Ad Hoc to manage and secure it from falling victim to vandalism, squatting or asset-stripping. For two and a half years, Ad Hoc has successfully protected the buildings using a combination of their Smart Alarm system and by having Guardians live in the presbytery.
“Living in a beautiful property so close to the city centre, and at such an affordable price is a rare find. I am not only able to save money, but I can do so while enjoying a great lifestyle and giving back to the community by securing the property,” said Olga Demidovich, Guardian at St Austin’s.
Located just 5 miles South East of Liverpool City Centre and a short walk from Cressington Station, the presbytery (a total of 3,283 sq ft), has been converted to have 5 living spaces, a communal kitchen and living room, and multiple shower rooms and toilets.
At an affordable licence fee of just £200 pcm, Ad Hoc provides the opportunity to live affordably and conveniently all while saving money, which many guardians use towards a deposit on a future home. This then helps address part of Britain’s housing crisis on different levels, as well as saving local authorities, diocese and property owners money.