Construction & Commercial Property News

WATCH: Professionals are beating rising rents by living in empty offices, care homes and schools

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Written by: Gavin Thompson | Posted 30 March 2016 17:30

WATCH: Professionals are beating rising rents by living in empty offices, care homes and schools

Facny living in an office block, empty school or former care home? You might not have all the comforts of home but for some it’s an affordable way to find a place to live.

And for one company, it’s a win-win solution that means it gets paid by both the person staying there and the building owners because it helps keeps empty properties secure.

Ad Hoc has 360 so-called guardians on the books at its office in Portland Square, Bristol, and 50 properties.

The Dutch firm arrived in the UK 10 years ago, focusing on London but now Bristol is the biggest office outside of the capital.
Perhaps not surprising since the average rent in the city is now more than £900 a month.

Area manager Simon Wright said the arrangement was a good deal for everyone.

“Essentially, we look after empty properties for building owners,” he said.

“We place guardians to live in the property to secure it.

“If there is a presence on site it deters squatters, which is a big problem in Bristol, but also helps prevent arson and anti-social behaviour.

Watch: Robtics engineer Peter shares his experience. Video from adhoc on Vimeo.

“If it’s just left empty it can cause problems. 

“If there’s a burst pipe or leak in the roof and someone is living there, they’ll spot it but it it’s empty the damage could be much worse.

“You can get 24-hour security guards but that costs a lot more money.

“Having the building occupied also looks better than a building being boarded up. Some guardians even make the place better than when they move in.”

The types of properties used can be shops, houses, offices, care homes, schools... anything provided it can be made habitable.
“That means running water, toilet, shower or bath, somewhere to cook and it must adhere to fire regulations.

As for the sort of people who want to be guardians, Simon says they vary, with local examples including an A&E nurse and a robotics researcher.

Bristol A&E nurse Naomi on why she lives in office buildings. Video from adhoc on Vimeo.


“Bristol is one of the most expensive places to live outside London, this can save them up to 80 per cent,” he said.

“We have lawyers, people who live in Devon but work in Bristol during the week, for example.

“Ages range from 20 to 50 and people stay for from three months to three years.”

There are some key differences to renting, other than the cost. Instead of tenancies, the guardians sign licence agreements which don’t give them the same rights. The firm gives 28 days’ notice to terminate the contract.

Stays are often short term, perhaps three months or so, perhaps while the owner puts out tenders for work, applies for planning permission or simply decides what to do with the property.


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