Becoming a live-in security guardian of a vacant property - from old schools to redundant warehouses - is fast becoming a cheap and interesting alternative for adventure-hungry renters throughout Europe.
As housing shortages and sky-high rents plague any potential home seeker, more and more people are turning to an alternative type of living known as 'property guardianship.' The scheme places live-in guardians into vacant standing properties; providing the guardian with cheap rent and the owner with cheap 24-hour security for their building.
The existence of thousands of vacant properties is an unavoidable fact as buildings become redundant or new developers await planning permission. It is estimated that between three to five percent of buildings lie vacant at any particular point in time. Instead of letting this free space go to waste, companies are beginning to tap into this resource to provide a mutually beneficial service.
According to John Mills, UK director of Camelot Property Management, the system provides higher quality security at a fraction of the cost. "Employing a 24-hour guard to protect your property would set you back 3,000 pounds per week on average," he said. "We will manage your vacant property for around 100 pounds per week, so there's a huge commercial cost saving for property owners. By having people occupying their building, it's also more effective – so we believe our method of protecting buildings is better as well as cheaper than traditional methods."
In exchange for protecting these buildings from vandals and squatters, guardians benefit from comparatively cheap rent. Yet, any potential property guardian has to undergo a screening process to ensure they are eligible. This includes a criminal record check as well as a credit rating check.