In a nutshell, a property guardian is someone who is granted an affordable, flexible and shared living space, in return for protecting an otherwise vacant building from squatters, anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
But it’s not just anyone who can become a LOWE guardian; we look for people who share our values, who are socially responsible and reliable individuals, and who take pride in the building that they are protecting and communities they are building. We want our guardians to contribute to the surrounding community, stimulate local economies, fill empty buildings with life and fend off disrepair and dereliction that some properties threaten.
Being a property guardian on a licence agreement has legal differences to being a traditional tenant on Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement, and it is very important that guardians applying with LOWE are aware of what the differences are (this article details this more clearly). We have a couple of key processes in place to help make sure all parties are clear on the situation, including monthly inspections to ensure that the buildings are being cared for and that our guardians are protecting the properties to the best of their ability.
That’s why we have a strict application process and extensively vet all our guardians to ensure that those who occupy one of our buildings fit in with our ethos, understand their responsibilities and meet our exacting criteria. As a result, we have built up a dedicated group of professional guardians who really take care of where they live.
Step 1: Meeting our criteria
Before filling out an application form to become a LOWE Guardian, these are our requirements:
- You must be over the age of 21
- You must be in full time employment or be able to provide proof of self-employment
- Deemed financially able
- Not an undergraduate student
Step 2: Online application
Our online application form takes around 30 minutes to complete, in which we ask that applicants supply the following documentation:
- Profile photo
- A scanned passport copy
- The previous 3-months bank statements (full statement pdfs required)
- An employer reference or proof of self-employment
** Applications will not be successful if the incorrect documents are supplied, and applicants will be required to re-apply with the correct documentation.
Step 3: Viewings
Successful applicants are then able to book onto and attend viewings at our vacant properties. We treat viewings as the second stage of vetting. Small viewing groups means the LOWE representative can get to know the potential guardians and their suitability for the property prior to offering them a room. This allows us to assess whether the candidate has understood their responsibility as a guardian, as well deciding where best they will be a good fit and contribute to the building and community.
Step 4: Final checks
If after a viewing, the guardian wishes to reserve a space, they are required to make a security payment, and once that is received, we make the final checks ahead of sending the licence agreement. These checks are:
- A criminal background check undertaken by Gov.uk which guardians are required to conduct this check themselves and pass the results to us.
- A reference letter from a previous landlord.
Step 5: Moving in
Once the application has been approved, the checks have been made and the guardian finds their perfect location to live, they are able to move into their new home within a matter of days.
We also appoint positive, outgoing and enthusiastic Head Guardians at all of our properties, to foster community and structure in a large communal setting. Head Guardians act as a representative for their community and work with LOWE to keep us informed and aware of any potential issues. Amongst a number of varied and important duties, Head Guardians manage and organise house events, attending monthly meetings with LOWE Community Managers, and ensure the property remains compliant by doing weekly fire testing and patrols of the building maintaining clear fire exits. Head Guardians become the heart of their community and they are an invaluable part of LOWE.
Choosing guardianship is choosing a lifestyle, and each guardian gets something different from it, be location, affordability, community or flexibility. If you think Guardianship could be for you, apply here or get in touch – we’d love to hear from you.