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Rights of property guardians

Property guardians get cheaper rent in exchange for making buildings more secure by living there. They usually live in unused residential or commercial properties.

Some people find this is a good option, but keep in mind that there can be problems.

Make sure you know your rights and research any guardianship companies you use.

Tenancy rights

Many property guardians have licence agreements. But you could have a tenancy even if the label on your agreement says it's a licence.

Tenants have more rights than people with licences.

You probably have a licence if:

  • other people can go into your room without asking you

  • you did not sign an agreement for a particular room

  • the agent can move you from room to room

  • you live in the property rent free

  • your landlord lives with you

You could have an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) if you have:

  • a room with the only key to it

  • lived in the same room for a long time

Repairs and safety

You can report any health and safety concerns to your council.

This includes problems such as:

  • unsafe electrics

  • exposed asbestos

  • flooding or problems with pipes

The property you live in could be a house in multiple occupation (HMO). This can mean additional health and safety responsibilities for the landlord.

If you have a licence, check your agreement to see who should do repairs.

If you have a tenancy, your landlord is always responsible for certain repairs.

This includes fixing:

  • electrical wiring

  • gas pipes and boilers

  • heating and hot water

  • walls, stairs and bannisters, the roof, external doors and windows

What if my landlord wants to evict me?

Your contract may say that you can be evicted at short notice and without a court order.

This can be wrong. Always check your rights before agreeing to leave.

If you have a licence

Your notice depends on whether you have a fixed term agreement. A fixed term agreement could be, for example, for six months or a year.

Your landlord does not usually have to give you a notice when your fixed term ends. But they have to apply for a court order if you do not leave when your agreement ends.

If you have a 'rolling' agreement that does not have a fixed end date, your landlord must usually give you at least 4 weeks' notice before they can apply to court.

If you have a tenancy

If you have an AST your landlord must:

  • give you at least 2 months’ notice

  • get a court order after the notice ends if you have not left

Getting your deposit back

If you have an AST, your deposit must be protected in a government scheme.

If you have a licence and your landlord keeps your deposit, you can take action to get your deposit back.

Paying council tax

Your landlord may have to pay council tax if the property is a house in multiple occupation (HMO).

Contact your local council if you're unsure who should pay.

More information

GOV.UK has more on property guardian rights.

Last updated: 6 January 2023

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