Information about Dot Dot Dot’s service for Savills and LandAid

Prepared on 28th July 2017

We are delighted to work with Savills and LandAid in order to introduce our solution to more owners of empty properties.

Scroll down to read all the information we are providing Savills in order to share with its clients, or jump to a particular section using the contents.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Abigail Perriman


Introducing Dot Dot Dot
What makes Dot Dot Dot different?
Suitable locations
Lead in time for fitout and delivery
Profile of guardians
Contractual arrangement between owner and guardian organisation
Benefits to building owners

Founded in 2011, Dot Dot Dot stands for property guardianship done in a way which serves the interests of property owners, property guardians and local communities. On behalf of owners, we take good care of buildings that would otherwise be empty. We provide guardians with good quality housing much more affordably than the private rental market. And at the same time we make a positive difference to communities by ensuring our guardians are great neighbours and encouraging them to volunteer for good causes, as well as preventing the blight that empty buildings cause.

All Dot Dot Dot property guardians volunteer for at least 16 hours a month for a charity of their choice – this approach is at the heart of our identity as a social enterprise and it makes us unique amongst property guardian programmes. Volunteers also make good guardians. Those who choose to volunteer tend to be conscientious people who would like to do their best to help others. This means they are particularly suited to being property guardians, as they will look out for the building and their neighbours.


Some representative testimonials:

“Guardians have occupied vacant spaces while the estate undergoes a significant period of transition, helping reduce anti-social behaviour as well as providing friendly neighbours for remaining tenants.” Gillian Dart, Thamesmead Regeneration Project Officer, Peabody

“Dot Dot Dot enables us to provide a temporary home for people and they all perform community work as part of their guardianship. This has been positively received in all of the communities where we have worked with Dot Dot Dot.” Tracy Cullen, Chief Executive, Croydon Churches Housing Association

“Dot Dot Dot and their wonderful guardians enhance the properties they live in and keep secure for us. They have proven to be invaluable partners in achieving our aims.” Andrea Baker, Director of Housing, Poplar HARCA

Our focus on social impact and quality of service are the two key differentiators with other property guardian companies.

Social impact
All our property guardians volunteer for at least 16 hours a month for a charity of their choice – this approach is unique amongst property guardian programmes.

Volunteering is at the heart of Dot Dot Dot for the following reasons:

  • We are a social enterprise. We exist as a business to make a difference, and supporting the volunteering efforts of our guardians is the way we do that.
  • Good people make good guardians. Those who choose to volunteer tend to be conscientious people who would like to do their best to help others. This means they are particularly suited to being property guardians, as they will look out for the building and their neighbours.
  • Volunteering is not just for saints. It has a significant positive effect on the lives of people who undertake it – learning new skills, building new connections and finding a new focus. With time and money freed up by the reduced living costs as well as support and a sense of community around charity work, guardians are able to give time to causes they care about, and many choose to join us for this reason.
  • To increase our positive impact on the local community. Dot Dot Dot’s approach is explicitly geared towards creating positive local outcomes above and beyond the prevention of blight that empty buildings can attract.

Quality of service
Since we were founded in 2011, we have always sought to push up standards in the property guardian sector. In the last year, we have set out in detail the standards that guardians can expect from Dot Dot Dot, and over the coming years our goal is to continue to set an example of best practice.

Part of Dot Dot Dot’s public commitment to all of our property guardians is that we only house them in buildings that are safe, secure and well-managed. We recently achieved certification for ISO 9001, which is an external validation that our quality management system is robust.

Dot Dot Dot buildings are at a standard that meets or exceeds the health and safety and fire safety standards legally required were the property rented in the private rented sector, and maintained in this condition for as long as property guardians live in the property. Necessary repairs are carried out according to a clear timescale.

Where we take on buildings which don’t meet these standards when handed over to us, we undertake works to improve them to the required level. Depending on the building, this might include upgrading fire detection systems or altering the access of a building to ensure easy escape. Our operations are managed and organised to ensure that properties meet this condition before guardians are placed, and are managed and kept in this condition. This is an important part of our ISO 9001 quality management system.

We provide housing across England, and we have a particularly strong presence in London, where we work in several boroughs. Over the years it has been fantastic to see that our service works just as well in rural Cambridgeshire, in Sheffield and on the south coast as it does in Notting Hill and Tower Hamlets.

Upon signing an authorisation agreement, buildings are fitted out if required and suitable guardians are recruited simultaneously. Every building is different, but in two recent examples (a former office in Sheffield and a former school in Croydon) fitout works were complete within two weeks. Importantly, once properties meet minimum health and safety standards, we have a rapid turnaround and commit to securing buildings through occupation within 10 working days.

All sorts of people become guardians with Dot Dot Dot. We currently house people between the ages of 20 and 70. They have all sorts of jobs too: Teachers, cleaners, magazine editors, librarians, health workers, engineers, midwives, DJ’s, Ph.D students and dancers.

People become Dot Dot Dot property guardians for different reasons, whether that’s because it opens up a new way of living for them, or it makes their existing lifestyle easier and more affordable. However, all our property guardians share some characteristics: they are resilient, financially stable, conscientious, committed to volunteering for at least 16 hours per month and they all have to pass our stringent application process.

Dot Dot Dot is typically given authorisation by the property owner to grant licences for property guardians to live in an otherwise vacant commercial, service or residential property. The property guardians pay a licence fee to Dot Dot Dot.

For longer and more certain periods the property owner sometimes decides that granting a lease to Dot Dot Dot is the most appropriate structure.

Compared with boarding up a building (the typical securing and managing empty properties), property guardianship has numerous advantages, and – when done well – it does not have any disadvantages:

  • It is more cost-effective
  • There is an established VOA (Valuation Office Agency) precedent for property guardians mitigating up to 100% of business rates
  • It keeps buildings in a safe condition while they are empty for an interim phase (before refurbishment, sale or redevelopment; or after a purchase)
  • It enables social sustainability i.e. neighbourhoods are not blighted by boarded up buildings
  • In residential properties, substantial running costs such as utilities and council tax are transferred to the property guardian company
  • Flexibility is retained, as the property is handed back with 30 days’ notice and short notice access can still be arranged

In Dot Dot Dot’s experience, property guardianship is an excellent security and property management solution, but it goes far beyond that. Property owners also come to Dot Dot Dot:

  • to create housing
  • to ensure their building remain as useful as possible
  • to provide a tangible and marketable element to their corporate social responsibility initiatives, by creating low cost housing, supporting volunteering, and improving neighbourhoods.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Abigail Perriman

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