AN appeal has been launched for “guardians” to 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 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.
The unfurnished properties are Jesmond Road School caretaker’s house and the former family resource centre in Somersby Close.
The rent is cheap because the council pays for all utility bills, rates and essential repairs.
There are four bedrooms at Somersby Close, which includes a communal area, kitchen and two bathrooms, and the cost is £120 per person per month.
Steve Pursey, business development manager at Ad Hoc, said: “This is a short-term solution for people looking for accommodation but don’t want to be tied down to a six-month contract.
“The buildings often go back to the clients in a better condition and it makes them more attractive to potential buyers.”
There is currently one guardian in the caretaker’s house and there are three other rooms available for £180 a month.
Guardians must be over 21, in employment and be able to provide references from employers and previous landlords.
They sign a rolling monthly contract and there is a two-week written notice period.
Council bosses say it would cost more to pay for a security firm to provide protection for the empty buildings.
Philip Timmins, the council’s principal estates surveyor, said: “The aim is to keep the buildings safe and secure in the short term and if there are any problems then they can be reported to us.
“It gives us peace of mind.”
For more information, call York-based Ad Hoc on (01904) 652594.