Camden council revealed to be second highest user of property guardians

The Green Party London mayoral candidate thinks councils could find a more creative solution

The Green Party London mayoral candidate thinks councils could find a more creative solution - Credit: Archant

Camden councillor Sian Berry has spoken out against London councils who use property guardian companies to safeguard public buildings.

London Assembly member and Camden councillor Sian Berry has called on Camden and other London councils to rethink their use of property guardianship schemes.

152 property guardians were employed in Camden by third party companies in 2016 to occupy 12 Council owned properties, the second highest number in all the London boroughs.

Only Haringey had more, with 156 guardians occupying 8 buildings.

Ms Berry said: “Property guardian companies have been accused of taking advantage of the lack of affordable homes to charge people nearly market levels of rent to live in often sub-standard, unregulated properties.”

She added: “Councils should look at more creative uses for public buildings. Community and cultural organisations are crying out for short term spaces for their projects, and would happily take care of these buildings at no cost.”

Property journalist and Green Party candidate for Mayor of Hackney Samir Jeraj obtained the information via a freedom of information request.

Mr Jeraj said: “Councils should not become second-class landlords by allowing their properties to be used to exploit people let down by the housing crisis. Property guardians should be treated like any other tenant, with proper health and safety rules, notice periods and protection from exploitation.”

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The politicians are concerned that property guardian companies exploit the lack of affordable housing in London by filling empty buildings with more people than is necessary to deter squatters or vandals whilst charging them rent.

In Camden they found there was an average of 12.7 guardians per property.

Across London they found that up to 20 people at a time were living in these council owned buildings, with over 200 buildings rented out to over 1,000 guardians.

The companies do not make profits directly from the councils, who enter into zero fee contracts. The data released showed that in total London councils had paid these companies just £24,500.

In Camden the council disclosed they had spent nothing on the schemes.