How we…select our guardians

We all know poor recruitment costs. Not just the financial costs of having to recruit again and potentially pay a poor employee to leave, but also the sheer amount of time and emotional energy it takes to rectify low productivity and morale.

It shouldn’t surprise you to know that property guardianship is no different. Without thorough vetting, you could easily end up with someone in a property who has no interest in reporting repairs, no inclination to abide by rules, and no desire to leave when notice is served.

At Dot Dot Dot we invest heavily in our selection procedures from the outset. This gives us the best possible chance of finding guardians who will fulfil all the safety and security requirements of our property owners, whilst also being committed to volunteering at least 16 hours a month for good causes. Just over a quarter of our applicants have been referred to us by other Dot Dot Dot guardians, which means we can tap into an audience which is already aware of our high standards and expectations.

Our criteria

Our essential criteria include: being 18+; having proof of savings and / or annual earnings in excess of 30 x the monthly licence fee for a particular property; not being wholly reliant on benefits in order to pay their licence fee (we evaluate each application which involved benefits as a source of income on its own merits); having no unspent convictions; and being committed to volunteering.

Throughout the vetting process we also look for applicants who communicate well, understand the need for flexibility and resilience, demonstrate they understand the differences between property guardianship and renting, and are committed to making a positive social impact. They must also understand what makes a good neighbour e.g. being responsible and conscientious.

Our process explained

From the start of the process to being housed, each successful applicant spends around four hours undergoing vetting. Our online quiz ensures applicants share our values, meet our basic criteria, understand property guardianship. All guardians agree to our rules e.g. notifying us if they want to go away, not having large numbers of guests, not having open flames, and no smoking.

Applicants who pass the quiz are directed to an application form, to understand more about their volunteering experience and plans, contact details, employment status, financial situation and housing situation. This is scored internally and successful applicants are invited to viewings.

In order to keep our prospective guardians safe, and enable them to attend numerous viewings without having to travel, we introduced virtual viewings during Covid. Applicants are able to interact with and ask questions of the Dot Dot Dot team member who looks after the property. 

All applicants interested in moving in must then pass a 20-minute telephone interview with our New Guardian Assistant – who will have had feedback from the viewing. This is another opportunity for staff to assess their suitability as a guardian, their understanding of property guardianship and what their move-on plans are if given Notice to Quit (NTQ).

We then undertake document and background checks, including references, pay slips and bank statements (from the past three months) and passport for ‘right to rent’ and proof of address. Copies are kept on our database for audit purposes. We are also able to implement specific vetting processes e.g. credit and / or housing history checks if required.

Sign-up and housing

The final stage is the sign-up, when we thoroughly brief the applicant on their role prior to handing over the keys.This is a one-hour meeting in which each guardian is provided with a handbook which provides detailed instructions about their role. It also provides one final step where any concerns Dot Dot Dot may have can be flushed out, and if necessary, signing-up stopped.

We explain our rules, health and safety and security protocols, expectations around volunteering. We also brief new guardians on reporting repairs, anti-social behaviour and security concerns to us, as well as any property-specific requirements e.g. fire evacuation. Our published Standards on our website clearly set out what guardians can expect from us and what we expect in return.

Having signed up, guardians must pass a three-month probation period. We have procedures in place to ensure check-ins and communications are conducted at a higher intensity e.g. an inspection within the first fortnight. All interactions are recorded on a database so that we can understand the relationship with each guardian, and deal with any issues early on. A review is held at the end of the probation, which triggers an extended probation or a NTQ if there are concerns.

Long? Yes. Labour-intensive? Yes. Worthwhile? Yes.