London’s residential housing market has infamously high rents and an acute property shortage. Yet the city also has a reported 60,000 empty properties, creating opportunity for a new class of tenants calling themselves “property guardians”.
Companies agree with property developers, local authorities and housing associations to take over empty houses and flats and find occupiers on a short-term basis to care for buildings in danger of attracting squatters and crime.
SCOTTISH SUNDAY HERALD
Increasing numbers of Scots are taking the plunge living in disused commercial premises or empty houses as they seek cheaper rents and the chance to live in unusual buildings such as disused former childrens’ care homes.
Property guardianship – where renters provide security for owners by living in empty buildings in return for low rents – is said to have ballooned north of the Border over the past year.
Guardian Angels Provide Business Rates Relief
Business rates are a tax on the occupation of non-domestic property that must be paid on most commercial premises including shops, offices, pubs and warehouses.
Unfortunately, they are also a tax on unoccupied properties, with rates on empty properties charged at the same level since April 2008.
This presents a major cost burden for property owners when there is no rental income coming in to cover them, hitting businesses large and small.
Many landlords have been affected, with some having paid hundreds of thousands of pounds per year on large commercial buildings standing empty.