Guardian vs. Tenant

It really is black and white.

“Honey I’m home!” says Mr 1960s-Husband as he hangs up his hat up and greets his carbon copy family in their carbon copy house that he bought for a loaf of bread and a penny he found on the ground.

Unlike Mr 1960s-Husband, Citizen 2019 can’t afford a house. With wages stagnating and property prices rising, the home ownership dream is drifting further and further away from so many. So we turn to renting. But we forget that our housing isn’t a binary issue, there’s another kid on the block. Guardianship is not a new concept but it is the third prong to our living options and it is a valuable alternative.

In the Netherlands, antikraak – the original guardianship scheme – sits equally alongside buying and renting and is its own, explicit entity with established guidelines and legal precedence. And while guardianship schemes in the UK are becoming much more mainstream, there is still some confusion around the differences between a guardian and a traditional tenant.

Guardianship even has its own lingo with terms like ‘licensee’ and ‘security payments’ constantly being thrown around. But, just so none of us are left in the grey, here are the key points of difference between being a tenant and being a guardian.

Protects the property Occupies and possesses the property throughout their tenancy
Signs a licence agreement Signs a lease
Pays a licence fee Pays rent
Receive 28 days notice Receives two month eviction notice
No break clauses needed, 28 days notice and you’re free Must see out the lease which can be up to two years
Pays on average only 25% of their salary on accommodation costs Pay on average over 50% of their salary on rent
Ready made community! Has that housemate they only know exists because of the extra toothbrush
Live in the heart of London affordably (there is no way Bridget Jones could pay for that apartment..)   Work their way through every podcast under the sun on their daily commute  


So what is the functional distinction day-to-day? There are a couple of key processes we use to help make sure all parties are clear on the situation. The monthly fire inspections ensure that the building is being cared for and that our guardians are protecting the property to the best of their ability. Inspections also reiterate the guardian’s relationship to the property – they do not possess it, but rather protect it. Also our licence agreement is a really important piece of documentation that is the guardian encyclopaedia – read it! It delineates the nitty-gritty of notice periods and a guardian’s responsibilities in the property.

A guardian is not someone who pays cheap rent.  A guardian is a socially minded person who takes advantage of the opportunity presented by the various fantastic buildings in London. The guardian contributes to the community by stimulating local economies, they fill empty buildings with life and fend off the disrepair and dereliction that such properties threaten.

Choosing guardianship is choosing a life style. Each guardian gets something different from it – whether you are looking to save for a deposit on a house; you’re a creative who needs extra money for studio space; or you need flexible housing so you can chase that next big break without being hamstrung by a rigid rental agreement – guardianship can be the answer. Plus, there is nothing carbon copy about a guardian family.