What does it mean to be a property guardian?

Property guardianship brings buildings that would otherwise stand empty back into use as inexpensive housing. Over the past 10 years, we’ve housed over 1,500 people in properties all over England.

Properties are empty for a variety of reasons. For example, the owner may want to redevelop a building, or even knock it down. This process can be lengthy, so in the meantime, properties often stand empty, unused and at risk of vandalism.

Placing people (property guardians) into these buildings means they are kept safe and secure for the owners. In return, guardians get inexpensive housing and existing residents benefit from caring neighbours who give their time and energy to supporting the local community.

What’s different about Dot Dot Dot?

Dot Dot Dot is a social enterprise. This means that there is a purpose in what we do and unlike our competitors, the only reason we are in business is to address social needs.

We believe in a society where people have the time and energy to give back to communities and causes they care about and we exist to provide housing that makes it easier for people to do so. Not having to worry about paying expensive rent means that our guardians can use their energy and spare time on  causes and projects that matter to them.

All of our property guardians volunteer for 16 hours a month for a charitable organisation of their choice, and many do a lot more than this. This can be something you do already or something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t had the opportunity.

Discover more about volunteering as a Dot Dot Dot property guardian.

What responsibilities do I have as a guardian?

Property guardianship is different from renting in the private sector as the main role of a guardian is to protect the property they live in. Below, you’ll find some of the main differences between being a tenant, and being a property guardian.

Looking after the property

As a guardian, you’ll need to look out for and report any anti-social behaviour or maintenance issues. We don’t expect you to be in the property 24/7, but we do seek reliable and flexible people who will look after it carefully.

A 28 day notice period

If the property owner needs the property back, we will give you 28 days’ notice to leave. Guidance and support will be provided to ensure that requirements for moving are clear and unambiguous. We will always try and rehouse guardians who are doing great voluntary work. However, this isn’t always possible so we cannot make any guarantees.

If you wish to end your Dot Dot Dot guardianship, you can activate the 28 day notice period at any time by emailing your Dot Dot Dot contact. Once activated you will need to ensure you have vacated the property along with all of your belongings within the 28 days given.

As a property guardian, you have fewer rights than a tenant to contest the 28 day notice period in court.

Monthly property inspections

Property guardians have non-exclusive possession of a property. This means that Dot Dot Dot, or the property owner, can enter the building without giving notice. We carry out monthly unannounced visits to all of our properties to ensure they are safe and secure on behalf of the property owner and you, our property guardians. Don’t worry, we will always knock loudly before entering and leave a note to say that we have been.

Volunteering

All of our guardians commit to 16 hours of volunteering a month, and many do more than this. It is part of your licence and once a month you will be asked to tell us about your volunteering in a digital volunteer report form. This helps us to calculate the social impact Dot Dot Dot is having, and enables us to spot any issues early on.

Guests at the property

You can have up to three guests at any one time, and a friend or a partner can stay overnight up to three times per week. Permission is required for a guest to stay for more than three consecutive nights in any week, and you cannot leave your visitors unattended in the property.

Are there any other rules for living in a Dot Dot Dot property?

Yes. Having a clear set of rules is the best way to protect the health and safety of our guardians and to ensure that the properties are secure and well looked after. Standard rules include:

  • No smoking or vaping inside your property
  • No candles or naked flames, including incense
  • No children under 18 are allowed to stay overnight at the property
  • No pets in the property
  • Written permission required if you are planning a trip away for longer than 14 days
  • keeping in regular contact with us, and responding to all communications from us within two days, or more quickly if urgent

Health and safety standards

Property guardians are entitled to the same protection as tenants with regard to health and safety, fire and HMO legislation as well as from the Protection from Eviction Act.

Read about the standards we work to when providing housing to Dot Dot Dot property guardians.

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Who can become a Dot Dot Dot property guardian?

We have housed over 1,500 property guardians including nurses, teachers, students, cleaners, engineers, artists and actors: all sorts of people become property guardians with us. The one thing they have in common is a desire to make a social impact through volunteering. Discover whether Dot Dot Dot guardianship is right for you.

Learn more