HOUSING bosses have launched an appeal for ‘guardian angels’ to come forward and help look after empty council-owned buildings.
Hartlepool Borough Council has signed a deal with Ad Hoc Property Management which will see tenants move into two empty properties in town and pay as little as £30 a week in rent.
Prospective tenants are called “guardians” and the idea is for them to deter thieves and vandals from targeting empty buildings up for sale.
Property guardians are needed to look after two buildings in town, one of which is in Seaton Carew and has two vacancies and the other has one vacancy.
Both are owned by Hartlepool Borough Council but the exact locations have not been revealed to deter vandals and squatters.
Ad Hoc Property Management is offering rooms for as little as £120 month, including utilities, and the rooms are available from December.
Under the scheme, Ad Hoc bring in temporary, reference checked and interviewed guardians into vacant buildings to deter squatters and vandals.
The firm says this model saves property owners up to 80 per cent on traditional security methods while providing affordable accommodation for people.
Guardians live in the building as their home and the idea is that simply by being there deter crime and anti-social behaviour.
The rent is cheap for tenants, who sign rolling contracts, because the council pays for all utility bills, rates and essential repairs.
Hartlepool Council has worked with Ad Hoc Property Management before and property guardians were brought in at the former Foggy Furze Library, in Stockton Road, before that was demolished.
Council bosses say it would cost more to pay for a security firm to provide protection for the empty buildings.
Patrick Massie, business development manager at Ad Hoc, said: “This is a great way for local people to save on rent and live in interesting buildings.
“It saves the guardians money and keeps the buildings protected for property owners.”
Ad Hoc Property Management say the guardians act as an early warning system to prevent or deter vandalism, theft of fixtures and fittings, burst pipes, electrical faults, fly tipping, arson, squatting and weather damage.
For more information on becoming a property guardian call Patrick Massie on (01904) 795657 or firstname.lastname@example.org