"To this day, our clients choose us because we bring property guardians who, by virtue of their volunteering, make great temporary occupants."

The people behind the regeneration process

From our Chief Executive, Peter Brown

Many of our clients are working hard at estate regeneration and development programmes. Typically, this involves replacing estates built in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the end goal is worth the endeavour – warmer homes, neighbourhoods that are designed to work and always a net increase in homes – these schemes are complex and require long-term endurance and a patient outlook.

The existing residents who call these estates home need supporting through that process of change, as well as clarity about the forthcoming changes. Even if residents are won over on the case for change (and not all will be in favour), they still have to face the upheaval of the regeneration itself. That can mean extended periods of demolition, building sites close by and the stress of rehousing programmes. It’s a lot to ask, and likely to be disruptive even if managed with all care and compassion.

This is why we view regeneration as a process, and keep the challenges our clients will face and the people they house at the forefront of our minds.

Supporting estate regeneration has always been an area that Dot Dot Dot has specialised in. Our earliest projects were in estate regeneration and were successful because we brought engaged, caring, individual guardians who slotted into the empty homes as they arose, and who could be cheerful, supportive neighbours to the council and housing association residents awaiting rehousing. This was how our “property guardianship with purpose” began and, to this day, our clients choose us because we bring property guardians who, by virtue of their volunteering, make great temporary occupants.

The make up of the communities housed in these regeneration contexts is undergoing change too. Once an estate is earmarked for regeneration (or “decant”, an industry phrase that makes residents sound more like pieces of a jigsaw and less like humans with needs and hopes) then it will often also be used for “temporary accommodation”. This is another piece of industry jargon which describes housing people that are owed a statutory duty by local authorities under homelessness legislation. So once an estate has regeneration status, voids get used to accommodate a household which needs housing while awaiting settled rehousing elsewhere.

Those responsible for the regeneration programme will want to balance two things above all. First, the meanwhile phase i.e. making sure that life on the estate remains positive and safe ahead of the changes, that anti-social behaviour is minimised and an emptying estate doesn’t attract criminality. Secondly, the end phase – achieving vacant possession to schedule and handing over the site to the contractor.

Our expert advice is to consider using guardians as part of this meanwhile strategy because mixing the nature of temporary residents on an estate has benefits in terms of creating diverse and supportive communities. Having property guardians coexisting alongside tenants, leaseholders and temporary accommodation households is positive for several reasons:

  • Property guardians need flats that are safe and which meet minimum standards but they can be in any decorative condition. So flats that would be too expensive to refurbish to a temporary accommodation standard can be used for property guardianship. We can provide water heaters and temporary kitchens if those parts of the asset have deteriorated or are absent.
  • A property can be readied for property guardians within days, meaning that someone good and reliable managed by Dot Dot Dot can be quickly be living on the estate. This brings footfall, care and attention and is much better than mothballing a property.
  • Property guardians are a flexible service in terms of timing and minimum periods. When a property is available but the timeframe might not suit a temporary accommodation agreement, property guardians can move in and add value for the months that the property remains available. Equally, once in place property guardians can stay until the whole development phase is ready for handover, at which point we can serve notice on our guardians and achieve reliable vacant possession.
  • Property guardians cover the costs council tax and avoid the need for expensive void property security such as steel screens and alarms.
  • Dot Dot Dot property guardians are specifically chosen for their neighbourliness and friendliness and an interest in community through their volunteering. They will be a positive addition to their neighbours’ lives rather than be a source of stress or concern.
  • Dot Dot Dot property guardians are a diverse group of people, but what unites them is their willingness to live in these sort of temporary situations and make the most of those opportunities. They understand that when it’s time to leave, it’s time to move on and find their next property guardian home.

To talk to us about how Dot Dot Dot’s brilliant property guardians could be part of your regeneration strategies, please do get in touch at partnerships@dotdotdotproperty.com.

You can also find out more about our commitment to providing great housing to property guardians and raising standards in our industry here.