Dot Dot Dot Property Guardian Standards

At Dot Dot Dot, we believe that consistency, predictability and transparency are key to providing an excellent property guardian service. Therefore, we have published the standards we work to when providing housing to guardians.

We hope that this information will allow would-be guardians to be sure that joining Dot Dot Dot is the right choice for them, will set out what is expected of them once they are living in one of the properties we manage, and will let them know what they can expect from us before, during and after their time as a Dot Dot Dot property guardian.

Our approach goes beyond what is required by law because we are committed to providing great housing to guardians and raising standards in our industry. We believe that a focus on recruiting great guardians and managing them well is the best way to deliver a property guardian service which benefits everyone involved – guardians, owners and neighbours alike.

Part of Dot Dot Dot’s mission as a social enterprise is to push up standards in the property guardian sector – and one of the ways we try to do this is to clarify and publicise the legal rights that all guardians and would-be guardians have. In 2017, we worked with other responsible property guardian organisations to publicise the legal minimum standards all property guardian companies should comply with which you can read here.


What we expect from property guardians
What property guardians can expect from us

1. Becoming a guardian with Dot Dot Dot

We will publish our criteria for housing and review applications promptly, keeping you updated on where you are in the application process. Applications for housing will be reviewed in a fair and consistent manner, according to our applications process.

If your application for housing is accepted by Dot Dot Dot, we will invite you to viewings of available properties and answer any questions you have about what it is like to live with Dot Dot Dot, what you can expect of us and what is expected of you. The process for becoming a Dot Dot Dot guardian takes place at an hour long sign-up meeting, with a member of the team, where you will go over the licence agreement in more detail and sign the contracts

Applying for housing with Dot Dot Dot

We will publish clear information about how our housing works, what our eligibility requirements are and what we expect from people who live with us

Reviewing your application fairly and carrying out suitability enquiries

You can apply for housing via our website
We will assess applications for housing promptly
We will let you know if we need further information to be able to assess your eligibility or suitability
If we cannot house you, we will let you know and the main reasons why

Collecting and storing personal data

All personal data is collected and stored securely in accordance with Data Protection principles
Diversity and inclusion data (gender, age, education, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity) are collected. However, submitting the data is optional and it is held separately from applications for housing, is inaccessible to our operations team and is therefore never used in matching decisions

Viewing available properties

We will invite suitable applicants to viewings as these become available, aiming to give as much notice as we can
Viewings will include information about the building, occupation fees and what is included in the fee or excluded from the fee
Decisions about who to offer housing to will be made fairly and based on a number of factors including availability, suitability and ability to achieve the expected volunteering

2. While you are living with Dot Dot Dot

We will communicate regularly with all occupants within each building that we manage. Requests for support will be responded to in a timely way. We will make clear our rules, and discuss with you when we have feedback for you. Dot Dot Dot will operate a complaints process, available to all applicants and those who we house, plus those who have previously been housed. If you are not satisfied with Dot Dot Dot’s final view of your complaint, you can contact The Property Ombudsman.

Signing up to live with Dot Dot Dot and your legal responsibilities

Dot Dot Dot does not charge administration fees or referencing fees
We will explain clearly the terms of your legal agreement with Dot Dot Dot as part of a personalised meeting at sign up
We will conduct final checks on our suitability and eligibility which includes ID checks, contacting your references, conducting a Right to Rent check
If we need to conduct a credit check or Tenant Verification check, we will seek your permission and we will only use licensed bureaux, letting you know which bureau we have used
If you are asked to pay a refundable security payment, the terms by which the security payment can be returned to you in case of cancellation by you will be explained. If you are successfully housed by us, this refundable security payment will be included in the overall payment you need to make before moving in.

Moving in

You are expected to move in immediately on the date agreed between us
We will give you clear instructions on what you need to do as part of your moving in

Paying your licence fee and refundable security payment

Written documentation including your licence agreement and the rules you must keep while living in a Dot Dot Dot property will be provided to you. These will be explained to you, and you will have an opportunity to ask any questions at any time during your guardianship
Refundable security payments are held in a separate account and you will receive a receipt for your security payment and initial occupation fees. Security payments are never used for general business operations
Monthly licence fees are payable in advance. We expect all ongoing fees related to your occupation to be paid to us by Direct Debit
Our Direct Debit payments are collected by a third party processor in accordance with the Direct Debit guarantee
Where your fee includes bills for utilities, council tax or other living costs we will explain what is and is not included. This will be outlined in the licence agreement that you will sign
Licence Fees will only be increased with prior notification, and at least 30 days’ notice offered, and not within the first 12 months of an agreement for a particular property

Living in your home, and completing your volunteering

We expect you to keep in regular contact with us, and respond to all communications from us within two days, or more quickly if urgent
All communications from you to us will be answered within 2 working days, and more quickly if urgent
We expect you to follow the rules of occupation that we provide to you
Visits to properties will be made with respect for privacy, and we will verbally announce our arrival into rooms and spaces
We expect you to interact with other occupants, with neighbours, with contractors or other professionals, and with our staff in a polite and positive manner
We will introduce you to other guardians living in the same building as you, and provide ways to contact other guardians living locally
We expect all guardians to give at least 16 hours of voluntary work to charitable causes (as defined by the Charities Commission) every month
We will support you to undertake your volunteering, and ask that you provide regular information to us to help us support you and to be able to know what volunteering impact you are having, and where
We will support you to find appropriate volunteer opportunities, and we expect you to research and apply for opportunities that suit you.
Each of the buildings that we manage are the day-to-day responsibility of a named Relationship Manager, supported by other staff within our team
An out-of-hours telephone number will be available for emergency situations
Dot Dot Dot staff will always carry photographic ID

3. Buildings that are safe, secure and well-managed

Buildings will be at a standard that meets or exceeds legally required standards, and maintained in this condition for as long as property guardians live in the property. Necessary repairs will be carried out according to a clear timescale.

Buildings that are safe

If a gas supply is present, a current gas safety certificate will be obtained and a carbon monoxide detector will be installed
Smoke, fire and carbon monoxide alarms will be checked monthly
Fire alarm systems will be in place for larger buildings or smoke detectors will be in place for smaller residential flats and houses
Buildings will have a supply of electricity and all electrical installations (wiring, switches, fuseboards) will be safe
Buildings will be free of Category 1 hazards as defined by the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS), a method of assessing housing conditions
Buildings will have a supply of drinking water

Buildings that are secure

The exterior of buildings (roofs, walls) will be weatherproof and watertight
External windows and doors will be functioning and secure
Buildings will be suitably lit

Buildings that are well-managed

Every building will have a Management Plan describing how the building is managed in terms of safety, security, management and maintenance
Buildings will have functional kitchen and bathroom facilities, in a number and size that is appropriate to the number of occupants
The number of occupants will be set in accordance with the Fire Risk Assessment and Management Plan
Buildings will be licensed according to HMO Legislation when required, or any selective local authority licensing scheme that is in force
Fire exits, hazards, fire detection and fire control systems (where fitted) will be managed and tested according to agreed management plan
Out-of-bounds areas will be clearly marked as such
For previously non-residential buildings, Dot Dot Dot will advise the Fire Brigade that they are being used for residential purposes, so that the Fire Brigade’s fire fighting database can be updated
Common infrastructure facilities such as fuse boards, fire alarm panels and water stopcocks will be accessible to guardians at all times in case of emergency
Waste and recycling collection services will be available
Buildings will be available to guardians to receive post and to register as their residential address, unless the location or layout of the building makes the receipt of post impossible

Maintaining standards

We will communicate to you what repairs can be undertaken and to what timescale, to ensure that buildings remain safe to live in

4. Moving property or moving out

You can give Dot Dot Dot 28 days’ notice to end an agreement to live in a property. Dot Dot Dot will always give at least 28 days’ notice when we ask you to leave the property. Guidance and support will be provided to ensure that requirements for moving are clear and unambiguous. Dot Dot Dot will always try and rehouse guardians who are doing great voluntary work. However, this isn’t always possible so we cannot make any guarantees.

When you give notice to Dot Dot Dot

If you wish to cease being guardian, you can do so by giving us 28 days’ notice in writing. We will acknowledge this and agree a date when your Licence Agreement will end. We will provide information about what is expected of you throughout the moving out period

When Dot Dot Dot gives notice to you

We will always provide at least 28 days’ notice when we require you to leave your guardianship. We will provide information about what is expected of you throughout the moving out period

When your building is closing

When a building is due to close to guardians, Dot Dot Dot will offer rehousing options to as many existing guardians as possible, however no guarantees can be made about the provision of further housing with Dot Dot Dot. We will provide information about what is expected of you throughout the moving out period

Assessing your property and returning your security payment

Once a guardian has vacated the property, leaving it empty of all belongings, and returned their key to Dot Dot Dot, they will be asked to sign a Surrender Document and security payments will be returned within 28 days, normally by BACS
Deductions from refundable security payments will always be advised as soon as possible and will be fair, representing the staff time and costs incurred