18 October 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Seven of the UK's property guardian firms have come together to form the industry's first trade association to lead on safety and standards, represent and promote the sector, and to foster best practice.
The Property Guardian Providers Association (PGPA) was welcomed by all parties in a debate on property guardians in the House of Lords this week, and Lord Bourne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, said the government would be seeking to meet the association soon.
The PGPA, founded jointly by Ad Hoc Property Management, Guardians of London, Live-in Guardians, Lowe Guardians, VPS, Dex Property Management and Camelot, has been created to provide the industry with effective representation, to formulate policy, and to make sure that its members are at the forefront of meeting or exceeding legal and safety standards.
These seven founding members provide over 80 per cent of the guardian accommodation in the UK.
Simon Finneran, managing director of Ad Hoc Property Management, said: "The industry has grown to a size where it now needs a structured framework in terms of best practice and progression to not just raise standards but to also ensure that guardians are getting the best out of their experience."
After an industry-wide census of its members was conducted, the association found that many people couldn't afford to live in the city where they work, so property guardianship provides a cost-effective way to do so. It was also found that no less than 60 per cent of guardians remain in the same accommodation for a year or more, breaking down the myth that guardians are constantly on the move.
Finneran added: "Property guardianship is becoming a more popular way of living as it allows for people to save money to get on the property ladder themselves. One in four guardians are in their 30s and one in three are key workers, all of whom are benefiting greatly from living closer to work."
The association, which launches formally at the Empty Homes Conference taking place in Birmingham on 18 October, has established a formal constitution that sets a benchmark for the legal obligations of management companies and property owners, as well as a service quality covenant to guardians.
Member firms will work together to address issues concerning the property guardian sector. To become a member, a company must not only meet the criteria as defined in the constitution but also be subject to an annual audit of its procedures and services.
The association's inaugural chairman and secretary is Graham Sievers, who will hold the reins of the trade body until the election of the first member chairman at the organisation's first AGM next year.