Why property guardians are good for community

Property Guardians are a new model of protecting and reusing empty buildings that has been introduced in UK since 2000s. This solution allows owners of vacant properties to reduce their rates providing at cheap price to people that can’t afford private rents or that want to save some money. In return Property Guardians will occupy the building to protect it from vandalism, theft and squatting, looking after it.

This way of life has become very popular due to sharp increase of housing prices that British people have faced for many years and that has made even worst with the economic crisis in 2010. Many key workers, students, post-graduates and freelance professionals have embraced Guardian’s lifestyle to afford an accommodation in major cities all over UK, allowing them to live in central neighbourhoods, near they workplaces or universities. Some Guardians live in these properties during the week, coming back to their homes outside the city in the week-ends. Others, thanks to the wide range of buildings available, from stately homes and schools, to hospitals and offices, use the site as accommodation and workspace at the same time, like artisans or artists, that need big space but also central position in the city. This is the eventuality of Alec and Thomas, two young stylists, that, with Ad Hoc Properties, they transformed their temporary accommodation in their workplace and style atelier also.

As said, many properties can be very big, as healthcare facilities, hospitals and office spaces, and landlords can divide some of them in different dwellings or separated accommodation with shared areas. This allows Guardians to create a community where they can live and help each other, monitoring the building better .

Moreover, occupying vacant buildings helps to prevent neighbourhood from becoming depressed, attracting criminality and vandalism. Recovering idle buildings can only positively affect the surrounding area, keeping it safe and enjoyable to live in.

Many owners are unable to privately rent their properties because the buildings are intended to be renovated or demolished shortly. Ad Hoc Properties guardianship system works on 28 day notice period with 31 day hand back period, allowing landlords to have their site available when they need and Guardians to organise themselves moving in another property. It’s also in Ad Hoc Properties’ interests to find as soon as possible new accommodation for their moving Guardians. Today, thanks to the new Ad Hoc community system, Guardians that are looking for a house to occupy can easily find and communicate with owners with an available property, thanks to Ad Hoc’s website and services.

Many are the reasons why Property Guardians are good for community. They occupy empty properties that could attract criminals, vandals and squatters otherwise, they protect them from any risk of unauthorised accesses and thefts, they contribute to preserve the neighbourhood and the surrounding area, reusing buildings that would remain idle, if not occupied. And besides, it’s a way to help low salary workers, that can’t afford a private rent at the moment, and to help owners saving money and recovering their rates and security costs.

Void management of empty properties

In the last years big companies, multinationals and the government itself are facing the issue of void management, having a lot of houses and buildings left empty for a certain amount of time that weigh on their financial statements. Since this June local councils have the power to double council taxes on dwellings left empty for between two and five years, to triple them for buildings abandoned for more than years and to quadruple for more than a decade.

The last analysis and reports estimate the number of empty houses being around 200,000 all around the UK, with 20,000 London alone. Just in Kensington & Chelsea there are more 1,300 idle dwellings, but a lot of them are “buy-to-leave” property deals, sold to foreign investors that purchase properties as investment, waiting for their value to increase. Left out these particular eventualities in London’s richer councils, many properties are left vacant due to outstanding payments, business problems or are just waiting for demolition or renovation.

The government alone owns more than 31,000 properties that are vacant at the moment for different reasons. Some of them are MoD and government’s accommodation intended for British soldiers families or other public functionaries, that can be rent just for short periods, due to MoD necessities. Others are public offices, like police and firefighter stations, left empty because of lack of employees or waiting for renovations. There are also many of them that were bought in order to build big public works and infrastructure projects. In the last years government has acquired many plots of land and private properties. For example, in the last years the government has managed many buildings to start the HS2 construction, spending an average of £1m per house, leaving more than 300 of them empty. These idle dwellings are difficult to rent just for short periods, while they are waiting for demolition, and they are costing a lot to British taxpayers.

Big companies could have the same problems when they approve new expansion projects, with brand new offices to build, acquiring buildings that can remain empty for years. Renovations have similar issues, with idle workspaces that can wait for years for necessary approvals.

With the new formula of Property Guardians, Ad Hoc Properties help owners to find short-term occupants for their vacant buildings. Guardians will occupy the property, looking after it, protecting the house from vandals, squatters and thieves, and allowing owners to save a lot of money, reducing their rates. Moreover, Guardians work on a 28 day notice period, making owners able to have their property available when they need to.

Ad Hoc Properties can give government and big companies a flexible solution thanks to Property Guardians for void management of empty properties, recovering a major part of their rates and keeping them free to organise these according to their needs.

Temporary accommodation in London

Finding temporary accommodation in London at reasonable prices has become very challenging for many people. Due to a large demand for dwellings in the English capital, in the last few years housing market has increased its prices dramatically, forcing many people to leave the city, settling in the surroundings. New Pwc (PricewaterhouseCoopers) research shows that in 2025 just 40% of Londoners will own their own home, upsetting the situation in 2000 with 60% of houses owned by their inhabitants. This phenomena is turning London into a city of renters, hardest hitting young people (currently aged 20-39), with just 26% of them that will own their own home by 2025, against 64% in 2000. With new homeless everyday and key workers that are leaving the city because they can’t afford to pay their rates anymore, local councils are struggling to deal with this problem, not building enough new affordable dwellings and not granting sufficient subsidies to his employees.

Homeowning peak was observed in 2003, with the maximum of 71%, boosted by Right to Buy government policies, established in 1980s. Since then it has started declining, and it is still diminishing, as reported by analyst Neal Hudson at Savills.

Thanks to these reasons, rents are rapidly going up, foreseeing an increase of 14.5% of people privately renting in the UK between 2000 and 2025, with the highest rise of 24.4% in London. Due to low levels of house building and a younger population, the next biggest growth, about 24%, will be in Northern Ireland.

A positive note is that rents, also if considered among the most expensive rents in all Europe, are going up at lower rate than house prices, thanks also to a council freeze on local housing allowance rates since 2016. Unfortunately this is causing troubles to private tenants on low incomes, putting them at risk of poverty and homelessness. Government has failed to provide appropriate housing benefits to private renters that could keep pace with private rents.

This situation make London house market the most expensive and competitive of all Europe, being very difficult to afford a decent accommodation, also for short periods, where tenants can require around 30% higher rates than long-term rentals, due to their loss of income during the void periods and flexible cancellation conditions.

With Ad Hoc Properties you can find an affordable accommodation in the centre of London at low price, becoming a Property Guardian. Ad Hoc Property gathers owners all around the UK with empty properties, vacant for a short period, that need an occupant to protect them from theft, squatting and vandalism. Property Guardians has only to occupy the dwelling or the building and keep their eyes open, to prevent any unauthorised access. Thanks to this service, accommodation is very cheap, compared with rent prices in the city. Moreover, leaving the building empty just for a certain period, is a perfect solution for all the people that are searching for temporary accommodation in London, without getting stuck in long rent contracts.

How to recover business rates on empty properties

Since 1990, when they were introduced, business rates have represented substantial part of costs that weigh on every business activity, and they’ve been very used by the Government, being a “non-distortionary” tax. A big issue is represented by empty business property, left vacant for some period, on which companies don’t have to pay rates only on certain strict conditions.

If business rates on non-residential buildings are pretty onerous at the moment, with the British Retail Consortium (BRC) strongly asking for reform, these taxes are expecting to rise in the next years, with a revenue for the government estimated to go up from £29bn to more of £31bn in 2020-21.

For these reasons companies are now trying to rationalise their workspaces, reducing their vacant properties. A lot of them still have many empty buildings that are waiting for renovation, new instalments or just council permissions. Empty non-residential properties get a relief from business taxes for a continuous period of three months, industrial and warehouse buildings for six months, but after this owners have to pay high rates on these unproductive sites.

There are many ways to avoid these rates. Firstly when the council declare uninhabitable the property, but this means that the building can’t be quickly reoccupied without any renovation. A permanent decision could be demolition or sale, but the second one could require also a long period of time, during which the owner is still paying for his property.

A generous solution could be leasing their building to charities organisations, which are exempted by taxes due to their nature. This could help companies saving a lot of money and getting a better image to their customers.

A good method for owners to recover their rates, payments is renting their property for short periods to tenants or licensees. If the building is occupied for more than six weeks, the owner will be able to get a new exemption for three months, preventing the risk of temporary letting to gain additional free rates period.

Ad Hoc Property can help companies to find people, Property Guardians, to occupy their vacant properties, recovering a major part of business rates. Property Guardians will not only occupy these sites, paying rents, but they will also prevent the risk of any unauthorised access and intromission, protecting buildings from thieves, squatters and vandals.

With Ad Hoc Property’s services, owners can recover part of the business rates that weigh on their empty properties, while Property Guardians look after these buildings, saving up to 80% compared to traditional security systems.

Becoming a property guardian helped me buy a London home

Fancy living in a large property in a sought-after postcode for half the average rental cost?

How does £425 a month for a bedroom in Marylebone, London sound? Too good to be true, most would say, but for property guardians, it’s entirely realistic.

Guardianship opportunities offer renters low-cost accommodation in exchange for occupying empty buildings.

Read more…

I live in disused buildings for cheaper rent

‘I live in disused buildings for cheaper rent’

Between them Bella and Rex have lived in former retirement homes, empty schools and even an old pub.

They are property guardians – people who live in disused buildings to keep squatters away in exchange for cheap rent.

Supporters say ministers should embrace such schemes so empty buildings can be used to provide thousands more affordable homes across the UK.

Read more here…

Wireless Smart Alarms

In the last few years Wireless Smart Alarms have improved a lot and more and more people have adopted these security systems for their houses or their industrial estate, instead of traditional wired installations.

Ad Hoc Property can help protect your property with Wireless Smart Security Alarms to protect from any theft, vandalism and squatters, combined also with Smart CCTV Towers, or with a Property Guardian, especially if controlling an extended area with more than one building.

Nowadays there are many reasons to choose wireless systems. First of all, they’re easy to install, because they don’t need any wiring and drilling, and Ad Hoc’s personnel can plan, build and activate the instalment in the same day.

Because they don’t need any cable and hole in walls, you can easily remove the system and reinstall somewhere else. This is perfect for temporary installation like Ad Hoc’s properties, allowing owners not to spend on wiring works to protect empty buildings for short time, saving a lot of money.

Wireless Smart Alarms give also an extra protection because they don’t depend on any electric system, excluding the risk of been disabled by cutting phone lines.

Because it isn’t hardwired, Smart Security Alarms equipment is easily and quickly upgradable, adding new sensors and cameras, and modifiable, with the possibility of changing system’s arrangement.

Wired systems are very reliable but they need to be controlled from only one control panel, which could be annoying for big industrial estate with more buildings. Wireless security systems are remotely accessible, equipped with remote key fob that can arm and disarm the alarms. Moreover, you can connect your smartphones and various devices with the security system, guaranteeing remote access when you’re away from every part of the world. Thanks to 3G+ connectivity and remote SMS control, in case of intrusion the system will notify you and the authorities, and it will also communicate minor issues, like required batteries changes.

Wireless security systems are equipped with a lot of different features connected with smart lights, smart locks, Smart CCTV Towers and other automated devices. They have also many characteristics that can be modified, like alarms’ volume or silent alarms, notification to authorities and neighbours, hacking warnings and others functionalities.

Thanks to all these characteristics, Ad Hoc’s Wireless Smart Alarms are the solution for all the owners that want to protect their property for a short period of time, allowing them not to spend huge money, saving on installation costs. Besides, they can control it anytime anywhere, being able to take action immediately.

 

Solutions to prevent squatting and vandalism

Since 2010, squatting and vandalism have been two major public order issues across the country, more concentrated in big cities but also outside.

Their rate’s rise has been caused by economic difficulties, growing unemployment and simultaneous housing price increase.

England has at least 610,123 empty residential dwellings, of which the 33% are long-term empty

In London, accommodation costs have gone up of 54% in the last 8 years. This has forced a lot of people out of their home, because they couldn’t pay their rent, leaving a lot of empty houses. According to the Empty Homes Autumn report of 2015 England has at least 610,123 empty residential dwellings, of which the 33% are long-term empty. It has been reported that 11,000 houses owned by the MOD (Ministry of Defence) are vacant, that represent the 23% of MOD housing stock, and it costs around £44m a year maintaining these empty accommodations. Some of them have been left vacant for years, like the military family homes in Cambridgeshire, that have remained empty for nearly ten years.

Buildings like these are targeted by thieves, squatters and, most of all, vandals

Buildings like these are targeted by thieves, squatters and, most of all, vandals. Also if rates have decreased in recent years, vandalism is still a problem very diffused, with the Government that spends millions every year dealing with that, and property’s owner doing the same. Someone argues that statistics report a slight reduction in vandalism instances only because people have become more used to vandalism and they don’t notify anymore.

Soaring rates of the housing market have meant that squatting has become a necessary way of life for a lot of people. The latest statistics has estimated the number of squatters in the UK around 20,000 and rising at the moment, also thanks to the Squatters Action for Secure Homes (SQUASH), implementation of section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, introduced in 2012. This gives more powers to police in order to intervene against squatters, but only in case of residential squatting, not commercial. The s144 LASPOA has contributed to reduce the length of occupation from a period between 6 months to a year to a period of 3 weeks in general, 3 months at most. On he other side it has more than redoubled the number of prosecutions, with some police’s abuses that have been reported.

Another consequence of this law against residential squatting has been the change of tack, with squatters favouring commercial buildings. It’s responsibility of the business owner if any squatter invade his commercial premises, and he has to pay to evict them and to restore the property to its original conditions. Legal fees for removing squatters start from £5000, more clean-up costs, which it is unlike to recover from squatters themselves. Moreover the occupation period is likely to be 6 weeks as minimum, due to a time of 2 weeks to get to a hearing at the court. Moreover, this long period will have a significant impact on the owner’s business, with delivering delays and aborted transactions.

Ad Hoc Property has found a new solution for property owners that leave their building empty for a certain amount of time. They arrange to fill their property with people that are ready to live in it, called Property Guardians. They will live or work in it and in the meantime they will keep your property occupied and safe. Besides, the owner can reduce his rate with Guardian’s rent, saving up to 80% of a traditional security system.

Ad Hoc Properties propose his Property Guardians’ system not only to private owners, but also to the government, as solution to his empty residential dwellings issues, allowing to save a lot of money. This can contribute in decreasing vandalism and squatting problems, keeping properties controlled by their occupying Guardians.

The solution for inner city ‘Key Worker’ accommodation

Latest statistics are claiming a huge lack of skilled key workers in the major cities of the country, first London, caused by unaffordable prices for accommodation.

Since 2010 the housing market has seen continuous rent increases, with peaks of upto 10%. London is the clearest example, with a average home cost of £526,000 that is 16 times the average salary in the City around £33,000 a year in 2016. Moreover, 22 of the highest 30 rent to salary ratios are always in the capital, with the two opposites of Westminster (78.3%) and Bexley (40.4%). This caused a reduction in owner occupation while the proportion of households privately renting is increasing. The rise of accommodation prices are forcing a lot of key workers to move away from their cities, because, also if their wages and salary had grown a bit in the last decade, people’s purchasing power had not proportionally to the living cost.

…allowing key workers to afford accommodation near their workplace.

The local government is trying to find a solution, providing funds for housing discounts and facilities for shared ownership homes, allowing key workers to afford accommodation near their workplace. A survey of 1,200 NUT (National Union of Teachers) members in London, aged between 25 and 35, has found that almost 60% were planning to leave the city within five years. The council’s of London should supply between 50,000 and 80,000 new homes a year, even if they were able to give only 30,000 dwellings in the 2015.

This affects the key worker’s life and work efficiency, with a direct impact on the quality of public services.  Key workers usually have to be in their work place very early, with no possibility to be in late (like nurses and transport supervisors), with long shifts that could last 10 hours. With travel time from home to work this period can further increase, causing elevated rates of stress and illness between them. This directly affect public services efficiency, with lack of personnel between police officers, firefighters and in hospitals, delays in transportations and disruptions in public services.

Ad Hoc Properties can give these people a solution to their problem, with a wide range of empty properties across the country waiting to be occupied. They can become Property Guardians living in these spaces saving money for the future. Properties’ owners are searching for someone who temporarily takes up these sites while disused. In this way, thieves and homeless people are discouraged from occupying or vandalising these spaces and owners can save a large proportion of rates, while key workers are able to afford accommodation near their workplace.

How to stop fly-tipping

In the last year fly-tipping has increased by 7% for the fourth year in a row. This rise is caused in part by the new digital reporting systems, that facilitate people communicating to authorities illegal dumping activities. Unfortunately local councils around UK have recorded a significant growth also in terms of refuse tons.

The regions that are more afflicted by this scourge are Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and the boroughs of Ealing in west London and of Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is becoming a big deal for local councils, that spend more than £3,000 per month dealing with illegal dumping. Last year almost 1m cases of fly-tipping were reported in England, equivalent to 114 every hour. It costs taxpayers £58m in clean-up costs. For years local governments have been able to persecute illegal dumpers with legal actions, that take long time to conclude and not always result in monetary fines, but just in notice letters. Since May 2016, all councils have issued separate fines of up to £400 for small scale fly-tipping offences, thanks to new empowerments given by central government. In 12 months 56,000 fixed penalties were given out, with an increase of 56% from the previous year, and 36 fixed penalty notices were issued for every prosecution.

Last year almost 1m cases of fly-tipping were reported in England, equivalent to 114 every hour

Statistics say that two thirds of farmers have been affected by fly-tipping and victims of illegal litter dumping have the responsibility to pay to remove properly any refuse from their property. Landowners, farmers and rural businesses have to face the cost of cleaning up rubbish dumped on their land, evaluated between £100m and £150m a year.

 

Farmers that have been affected by this problem must take preventive measures in order to dissuade people fly-tipping again and to make their property less vulnerable.

Smart CCTV Systems and Smart CCTV Towers can solve the problem, and Ad Hoc Property can install these systems rapidly and monitor the property 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Frequently these sites are distant and isolated and it’s difficult and expensive to place monitoring systems. Ad Hoc Property can provide these lands with their Hybrid Powered Smart CCTV Towers, a self-powered system, that doesn’t need any electric connection. Moreover is eco-friendly, supplied of 4G connectivity, fully monitored and it’s mobile and versatile, guaranteeing fast placement on the property.

 

Ad Hoc Hybrid Powered Smart CCTV Towers can really help in stopping fly-tipping or, if it continues, they’ll be able to identify people that persist in illegal dumping activities.