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How to become a property guardian in Britain

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Two years ago, Elliott Hines had a problem -he could not afford to live in London

‘The most basic flat cost £1,200 a month to rent, which meant I’d have to share,’ says Elliott, 35, a visitor from Chicago who had found a post as a religious education teacher.

‘And sharing meant one small bedroom and no living room.’

Property guardianship is an arrangement whereby individuals are granted accommodation at about a third of the market rate in return for keeping the place in good condition

Property guardianship is an arrangement whereby individuals are granted accommodation at about a third of the market rate in return for keeping the place in good condition

Luckily for Elliott he came across an advertisement in the small ads of a paper. 

It spoke about becoming a ‘guardian’ with four others, of the recently decommissioned National Westminster Bank in London’s Edgware Road at a far more affordable £575 a month, including bills.

‘At first I thought this was a crazy idea,’ says Elliott. ‘But I gave it a go and pretty soon I found it was a great way to live.

‘Being a guardian helped me get my finances sorted while living near the heart of London and meeting new people.’

The scheme Elliott had signed up to was run by Tim Lowe, of Lowe Guardians, who started his company after a six-month investigation for his last employers, estate agency Knight Frank. 

‘I discovered that there was this enormous problem with young people being unable to find affordable housing,’ says Tim, 33.

 ‘And at the same time, there were hundreds of empty buildings that needed someone responsible to look after them.

‘I put the two together and came up with the guardianship idea.’

Tim’s property guardianship is a contractual arrangement whereby individuals are granted temporary accommodation at about a third of the market rate.

They agree to keep the place in good condition and, in return, Tim’s maintenance team makes the premises habitable, installing kitchens and bathrooms and meeting all building regulations.

The guardians are legally ‘licensees’ not tenants, which means they have limited legal protection. 

They can be required to move out at short notice and the agreement between licensee and Lowe is based, to an extent, on mutual trust and goodwill.

Some stay in a property for four years, but more typical are stays of one to 18 months. Licensees, most of whom are key workers, young professionals or freelancers from the arts world, know the terms before they enter an agreement.

Being young, they usually travel light and are not looking for long-term security. However, the company also runs a re-housing policy to ensure a licensee isn’t suddenly rendered homeless.

It is worth noting that not all property guardianship companies are similarly scrupulous in their dealings.

Last month, Camelot Europe, which has now gone into administration, was found guilty of failing to licence a House of Multiple Occupation and 14 breaches of HMO management regulations relating to a former rectory in Colchester.

The residents shared one kitchen, bathrooms with no hot water and a clogged toilet. There was a faulty fire alarm, blocked fire escapes and sealed doors.

Around the same time, this paper reported on how Global Guardians were advertising derelict properties in London for the same extortionate rates as standard private rents. 

One was a ‘horrible disused factory’ in Rainham, another, a single room in a prefab hut with a grubby floor and dated wallpaper peeling off the walls.

Tim advises anyone new to guardianships to take care.

‘Research the company and question someone in a responsible position,’ he says. ‘Make sure you understand the terms of your contract. 

Speak to a few guardians and always ask how quickly the company responds to maintenance issues.’

Lowe Guardians, which Tim established four years ago, now has scores of properties and about 700 young people on its books, mainly in London and the South of England. 

Tim could hardly have chosen a better time to set up the scheme: more town centre shops close every day and over a third of UK bank branches have shut since 2015.

London’s Ovalhouse theatre is perhaps the company’s most ambitious project. Located at Kennington Oval in Lambeth, the former theatre is home to ten young singers, actors, writers and musicians.

The lovely old theatre has been turned into a recording studio and rehearsal space; there are seven bedrooms in what used to be the backstage changing rooms and it has a new kitchen and showers.

‘I’m sure this is an idea that would work countrywide,’ says Tim, who launched a charitable foundation linked to the company last year. 

‘Licensees have been able to save for a deposit on their own place having lived cheaply with us. 

‘There’s also a social side to the scheme; some have met as guardians and later got married. It’s more than a business.’  

On the market… at a cut price 

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South Africa 17 Lions 22

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15 Stuart Hogg

Something of a flip-flop in terms of his strengths as a player as one or two misplaced passes in attack but resolute and solid in defence. A couple of glimpses of his footwork and pace but he’ll be hoping for more ball next Saturday. Rating: 6

14 Anthony Watson

He was excellent in the first half, the Lions most potent force in attack in being able to escape multiple tacklers, albeit most of the time in lifting pressure in his own 22/half. The ball didn’t run his way after the interval. Rating: 7

13 Elliot Daly

It was his first game at outside centre in Test rugby in five years and it showed. He gave away a couple of penalties, missed his trademark long-range penalty, was bested physically in the collisions and will be under pressure to retain his place. Rating: 5

Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Elton Jantjies. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Elton Jantjies. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

12 Robbie Henshaw

Shaded his physical duel with Damian de Allende, carried aggressively, was accurate in the tackle and scrambled well, highlighted by forcing a crucial knock-on from Lukhanyo Am. He made one fine break albeit losing possession and a couple of finger-tip knocks-on but generally good. Rating: 7

11 Duhan van der Merwe

A couple of snapshots of his power in the tackle but like Watson was never given the type of ball where he could impose his strength. He didn’t have many questions to answer in defence because Cheslin Kolbe got very little ball. Rating: 6

10 Dan Biggar

The Welsh outhalf kicked 14 points from the tee and in a general sense, one pulled place-kick aside, his kicking game was reasonably well directed. He didn’t really bring his backline into play at any stage, suffocated by the Boks’ defensive press but overall the ledger was appreciably positive. Rating: 7


The British & Irish Lions

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9 Ali Price

He looked a little overwhelmed by the pace and physicality in the first 20 minutes but he gradually settled to the task. It was his excellent box-kicking after the restart that yielded opportunities for the Lions to regain possession and wrest control. Rating: 7

1 Rory Sutherland

A late call-up to the starting team due to Wyn Jones’s unavailability he was pinged twice at the scrum and the fact that his replacement Mako Vunipola made an appreciable difference when introduced could see him struggle to be in the matchday 23 next Saturday. Rating: 5

2 Luke Cowan-Dickie

Two errant lineouts, one overthrown the other crooked, were the only real blemishes on his try-scoring performance that was accompanied by a high work-rate on both sides of the ball. Rating: 6

Tadhg Furlong appeals to referee Nic Berry during the first Test. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Tadhg Furlong appeals to referee Nic Berry during the first Test. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

3 Tadhg Furlong

Loves a good celebration from the lineout maul tries, he won an important scrum penalty and was an important buffer in that set-piece when the Boks chased dominance there. He carried and tackled with typical application in a robust performance over the 67 minutes. Rating: 7

4 Maro Itoje

Deserved man-of-the-match, three turnovers in the first half alone including one within a few metres of the Lions’ line that saved a try. Immense in every facet of the game, he led by example especially in defence; intelligent and unrelenting. Rating: 9

5 Alun Wyn Jones (capt)

He was very quiet in the first half but considering the injury from which he has recovered that was to be expected. He was a key figure in the Lions’ second-half revival that included work-rate and decision-making. Rating: 7

6 Courtney Lawes

A huge performance in all aspects of the game, out of touch, carrying, making an eye-catching break that took him through three attempted tackles as a pre-cursor to one of his side’s better attacking moments. Tackled with authority. Rating: 8

7 Tom Curry

There could be no faulting his desire and work ethic but in conceding three penalties he demonstrated an impetuous streak that proved a bit of a handicap to his team in that opening half. His place will be under threat. Rating: 5

8 Jack Conan

He provided illustrations of the many qualities that he brings to a team, making one of two line breaks, defending and tackling with intelligence and carried the ball more than any other Lions player. Rating: 7

Replacements

In a collective sense they, to a man, added energy and momentum at a crucial stage. Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler gave their team a rock solid scrum, forcing a penalty there to boot. Hamish Watson was lucky to avoid a card for a dangerous tackle. Conor Murray and Owen Farrell brought control and maturity for the most part. Rating: 8

Coach

Warren Gatland deserves great credit for the team selection initially as most of the big calls that he made work out superbly. His half-time recalibration of tactics and focus worked a treat as did the timing of the replacements. He’s never been afraid to change things up and that may be reflected in a couple of changes for the second Test one of which could see Bundee Aki drafted in at 12 with Henshaw moving to 13. Rating: 8

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Norfolk’s Hemsby tops the list of villages with the biggest house prices

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Seaside sun… rises! Norfolk’s Hemsby leads villages with the biggest property value boom as buyers search for coastal countryside views

  • Norfolk’s Hemsby tops the list of villages with the biggest house price increases
  • The average value of a home in Hemsby is up 22% during the past year
  • Three of the top five villages with the biggest price increases are in Norfolk

Britain’s village hotspots for homebuyers have been revealed and dominating the list are seaside locations.

The pandemic has seen a ‘race for space’ with people living in cities moving to rural and coastal areas due to more flexible working practices.

They are shunning busy city landscapes for open green spaces in the countryside and easy access to expansive sea views.

Britain's village hotspots for homebuyers have been revealed by property website Rightmove

Britain’s village hotspots for homebuyers have been revealed by property website Rightmove

This four-bedroom house in Hemsby is on the market for £300,000 via Bycroft estate agents

This four-bedroom house in Hemsby is on the market for £300,000 via Bycroft estate agents

Hemsby, just north of Great Yarmouth, tops the rankings produced by Rightmove, having seen the biggest rise in average house prices during the past year.

The typical value of a home in the Norfolk village has increased 22 per cent in the 12 months from June last year, from £221,533 to £270,144.

Three of the top five villages with the biggest house prices increases were in Norfolk, with Heacham and Caister-On-Sea also making the list.

Heacham saw asking prices increase by 20 per cent in June 2021 compared to the same period last year, while asking prices in Caister-On-Sea rose by 12 per cent.

Caister-On-Sea also saw one of the biggest rises in demand for villages, with buyer demand up 46 per cent in June 2021 compared to June 2020. Average asking prices in Caister-On-Sea are £240,909.

David Lowes, of estate agents Mr & Mrs Clark in Norfolk, said: ‘With a general “escape to the country” desire prevalent for many, the rural county of Norfolk is in high demand.

‘With its 90 odd miles of varied coastline, the added possibility of a “next-to-the-sea” lifestyle, and the simple pleasure of a stunning sunrise or sunset means the coastal villages are of particular attraction.’

Heacham saw asking prices increase by 20 per cent in the year to June 2021, says Rightmove

Heacham saw asking prices increase by 20 per cent in the year to June 2021, says Rightmove 

This four-bedroom house in Heacham is for sale for £475,000 via Sowerbys estate agents

This four-bedroom house in Heacham is for sale for £475,000 via Sowerbys estate agents

He added: ‘Hemsby and Caister in the east and Heacham in the west of the county offer some of the more affordable options thus driving strong percentage price growth. 

‘Each of these villages are close to larger towns too which helps with the transition to the countryside in terms of availability of amenities and activities.’

Rightmove defined demand as the number of enquiries it had via emails and calls to agents via its website. 

Average prices percentage increases in these villages appear to be around three times as much elsewhere. But this may be affected by villages having lower stock and fewer transactions. 

The average price of a home in Britain increased 6 per cent during the past year to June, from £317,058 to £336,073, according to Rightmove.

This four-bedroom house in Caister-on-sea is for sale for £400,000 via Bycroft estate agents

This four-bedroom house in Caister-on-sea is for sale for £400,000 via Bycroft estate agents

Rightmove revealed that six out of the top 10 villages with the biggest annual price growth in June are near the sea. House price growth in all of these villages rose at a higher rate than the national average.

Rightmove’s Tim Bannister said: ‘During the past year, we’ve spoken a lot about the changes we’re seeing in where people are choosing to live, and this data shows continued demand from buyers looking for villages and rural locations outside of traditional major cities.

‘While we have seen signs that cities are starting to make a steady comeback, particularly in the rental market, price growth across all areas of Britain continues to be strong.

‘With the summer weather finally here, we’re seeing an added drive from buyers looking for that perfect village location by the sea, which is supporting price growth in these areas.’

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Cork activist questioned over allegations of harassment by Christian fundamentalists

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A file is to be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on a Cork activist accused of “inciting hatred” against a Christian fundamentalist group.

Fiona O’Leary was arrested by appointment on Tuesday for the purpose of Garda interview regarding allegations of incitement to hatred, harassment and trespass against the members of the Society of Saint Pius X Resistance (SSPX Resistance), which operates from a compound in west Cork.

The group, part of a loose worldwide network, was founded by ex-Catholic priest Richard Williamson, who recently gave a sermon in Cork linking Jewish people to the start of Covid-19 and calling them “master servants of the devil”.

Ms O’Leary has written about the group on her blog and visited its compound to take pictures and question its leaders. She also photographed and published pictures of two of its priests after spotting them in the supermarket.

Incitement to hatred, a rarely prosecuted offence, makes it a crime to publish material “likely to stir up hatred” against a group or individual.

Ms O’Leary was last week informed by gardaí that she was to be arrested for the purposes of interview in relation to the allegations. She was told she would be arrested in public if she did not attend the Garda station by arrangement.

After arriving at the station by appointment, Ms O’Leary was arrested on the allegation of harassment before being interviewed for five hours, with one break in the middle, on all three accusations.

During interview, gardaí put it to her that the members of the church were afraid as a result of her actions. They also questioned her about her interaction with journalists who have written about the SSPX resistance.

A DNA sample and fingerprints were taken before she was released on Tuesday night.

“The female was released without charge, the investigation is ongoing and a file will be prepared for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions,” a Garda spokesman confirmed.

SSPX Resistance

The Cork branch of SSPX Resistance came to some prominence recently when its leader, Giacomo Ballini, led a procession through Dublin to perform an exorcism of the Dáil, in an apparent breach of Covid-19 regulations.

The Drimoleague woman has a long history of campaigning on various topics through her blog and social media channels.

Last year, SSPX Resistance founder Mr Williamson travelled to the Cork branch, which is based in a farmhouse in a remote part of the county, where he gave a sermon claiming, among other things, that Jewish people are manipulating the stock market in an effort to start a war. The Jewish Representative Council of Ireland referred the comments to the Garda after they were reported in the Sunday World newspaper.

Mr Williamson was once a priest in the Catholic Church before being excommunicated in the late 1980s. He was later readmitted to the church before being excommunicated again in 2009 after his conviction in a German court of Holocaust denial.

He founded SSPX Resistance as an off-shoot of the Society of St Pius X which itself once broke away from mainstream Catholicism over its belief that the modern church was becoming too liberal.

Mr Williamson’s group is more conservative again, and believes the SSPX has itself become too modern. SSPX Resistance describes itself as “a group of traditional Catholics who wish to practise their faith without compromise to liberalism or modernism”.

His group has been accused of harbouring two Catholic priests in the UK after they were accused of sexual abuse while members of the original SSPX sect.

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