26 October 2018 | News and features | Back to Blog

Clarifying the law on Property Guardianship

What legal rights do guardians have, and how do their rights differ from those of tenants renting in the private sector?

There is a common misconception that guardians living in buildings which would otherwise be empty have fewer health and safety rights than if they were renting privately. In fact, guardians have the same rights to a safe home as tenants have, and can enforce those rights by the same routes.

At Dot Dot Dot, we always meet or exceed these basic legal standards and strive to provide a high quality, consistent, transparent service to everyone we work with. We have published the standards we work to so that guardians fully understand the basis on which they are housed, and can hold us to account if their expectations are not met. Dot Dot Dot is also accredited with ISO 9001, an international standard for Quality Management Systems, demonstrating our commitment to being a customer-focused organisation that is continually improving its services.

We are also working to spread understanding and compliance with these standards. In autumn 2017 we helped publish a detailed outline of the law on property guardianship, to allow building owners and property guardians alike to understand the non-negotiable basic standards they are entitled to. You can find a summary of the report below or, for the full white paper, access it here.

What legal rights do guardians have?

The same health and safety requirements that apply to privately rented properties also apply to all buildings where property guardians live, whether they are commercial, residential or other types of building. Fire safety, gas safety and any potential on-site hazards also fall under the same regulations as tenancies, and are enforceable by the same authorities.

Additionally, a large number of property guardian buildings legally constitute ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ (HMOs) – where five or more people, forming two or more separate households occupy a property. In these instances, property guardian companies, just like landlords, are required to obtain an HMO licence, which gives them extra legal responsibilities to reduce the risk of fire and to make sure that people living in shared buildings have adequate facilities.

All properties managed by Dot Dot Dot meet at least these basic health, safety and fire standards (and often exceed them), and we currently hold HMO licences for all our relevant properties. We do this not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it’s the law – these safety standards apply to property guardianship just as much as to tenants. You can find more detail on the standards to which we work to here.

How do property guardians’ rights differ from those of tenants?

Property guardians sign licences, not tenancy agreements. The two key legal differences between these contracts are:

  1. Non-exclusive occupation of the premises – meaning the owner or property guardian company may enter the building at any time without giving a guardian notice.
  2. Shorter notice periods to leave – guardians are given 28 days notice to vacate the building (versus tenants, who must be given two months). Guardians also have fewer rights than tenants to contest this in court.

If you would like to read an outline of the law in more detail you can download ‘The Law on Property Guardianship’ in full here. The white paper was written by a prominent and independent legal team, comprising a leading housing lawyer, Giles Peaker, from Anthony Gold, along with Andrew Arden QC and Andrew Dymond from Arden Chambers.

We would also be very happy to answer any questions you have on the topic. Please don’t hesitate to email us.