The notion of the extreme house sitter, or property guardian, is one that has gained increasing prominence among property owners, agents and tenants over recent years.
These terms refer to people who occupy properties while they remain vacant, deterring vandals, squatters and thieves for the duration of their tenancy. In return, they pay very low rent, and often get to live in a unique property.
According to a recent BBC report on the topic, there are estimated to be around 920,000 empty properties in the UK. In the past it was customary (and still is, largely) to rely on security measures such as alarms, unoccupied property insurance, and possibly security patrol services.
But allowing a tenant to occupy a property instead means a landlord (or agent) can be sure that someone is in the property, keeping it safe and tidy. They can also switch to landlords insurance instead of unoccupied cover.
Of course, if the tenant works some distance away, there is still a risk of daylight burglary or vandalism, but if a property looks lived-in, then this risk is diminished.
At its best, property guardianship allows everyone to win: security and a nominal income for the landlord/agent, and a very affordable living space for the tenant, who may, for example, be able to save up for a deposit on their own property much more quickly than if they were paying full rent.
For others, taking out unoccupied property cover provides enough peace of mind, and means they won’t have stranger living in their property.