Dot Dot Dot Property Guardian Standards

Part of our mission as a social enterprise is to push up standards in the property guardianship sector. One of the ways we try to do this is to clarify and publicise the legal rights that all current and prospective guardians have. We also want to make transparent the ways in which we work to provide an excellent service to you.

Our legal standards

In 2017, we worked with other responsible property guardian organisations to publicise the legal minimum standards all property guardian companies should comply with. There are three key points:

i) Health and safety requirements apply to all buildings where property guardians live, whether they are commercial, residential or other types.

ii) Fire safety, gas safety and any potential on-site hazards fall under the same regulations as tenants, and are enforceable by the same authorities.

iii) Property guardians sign-up as licensees, not tenants; two of the key differences include non-exclusive occupation of the premises and shorter notices to leave. In return, guardians live in low-cost accommodation.

Find out more.

Health and safety in Dot Dot Dot properties

We understand that health and safety in our properties is of vital importance to our property guardians. The buildings you live in will be at a standard that meets or exceeds legally required standards, and maintained in this condition whilst the property is still under our management.

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

Our communal properties 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 the 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.

At certain properties, common infrastructure facilities such as fuse boards, fire alarm panels and water stopcocks will be accessible to guardians in case of emergency.

Waste and recycling collection services will be available where possible.

Buildings will be available to guardians to receive post and to register as their residential address. If the location or layout of the building makes the receipt of postal deliveries difficult, we will seek to find other solutions.

Inspections and repairs

We will communicate to you what repairs can be undertaken and to what timescale, to ensure that buildings remain safe to live in. Requests for support will be responded to in a timely way.

Visits to properties will be made with respect for privacy, and we will verbally announce our arrival into rooms and spaces. Dot Dot Dot staff will always carry photographic ID.

An out-of-hours telephone number will be available for emergency situations.

Our customer service standards

Applying to become a guardian with Dot Dot Dot

Applications for housing will be reviewed in a fair and consistent manner. We regularly review the demographic characteristics of the people we house compared to those that apply to ensure the process is not biased.

At application stage we ask for information on ‘sensitive categories of information’ such are religion and sexual orientation. The data is collected for diversity and inclusion purposes only and it is not mandatory to provide this information. We never use this data in the process of matching properties to applicants.

To ensure you are suitable and eligible for guardianship, we will conduct identification and reference checks including a Right to Rent check. Dot Dot Dot does not charge administration fees or referencing fees.

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.

All personal data is collected and stored securely in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) principles.

We will invite eligible applicants to property viewings as these become available, aiming to give as much notice as we can.

Viewings will include information about the building, licence fees and what is included in or excluded from the fee.

Decisions about who to offer housing to will be made fairly and based on a number of factors including your availability, financial security and ability to meet the expected volunteering requirement.

If we cannot house you, we will let you know and the main reasons why.

When you become a guardian with us, you will be asked to sign a licence agreement (a legal agreement with Dot Dot Dot). We will explain clearly the terms of your licence agreement during your sign up meeting.

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.

Your licence fee and refundable security payment

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 six months of an agreement for a particular property.

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.

Our Direct Debit payments are collected by a third party processor in accordance with the Direct Debit guarantee.


We expect you to research and apply for opportunities that suit you. If you are finding it difficult to source volunteering options, we will assist you with suggestions of appropriate volunteer opportunities.

Our complaints process

Dot Dot Dot operates a complaints process, available to all applicants and those who we house, plus to 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.

Outside of a block of flats

Want to know more about being a property guardian?

We house residents – known as property guardians – to live in buildings that would otherwise sit empty. Property guardians keep the building secure for the owners and wider community. In return, guardians get inexpensive housing.

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