Sustainable, ethical and charitable property security


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Tuesday 16 November 2021 13:46

Global Guardians is a Business Reporter client.

The world of real estate in the UK has changed in many ways in the decade that Global Guardians has been operating. When we started, our business model, company ethos and objectives were rather different to those of many of our colleagues operating in property security, particularly vacant property. But in the years since, the importance of sustainability and being environmentally and socially aware has risen up the agenda for many in the industry, and we continue to strive to lead from the front, and by example, within our sector.

Global Guardians started out managing a block of sheltered accommodation properties on behalf of a London council for three years, housing 60 property guardians – working professionals who couldn’t otherwise afford accommodation so near to their jobs in central London. Our CEO even lived on the site himself for a while, to ensure it was secured right from the outset, and he also selected every guardian personally, to confirm they were a right fit for our company ethos and standards. It is that care and attention to detail that has characterised the way our company staff have operated up to the present day. We care about our clients and we care about our guardians.

Since those early days, Global Guardians have managed more than 1,200 different sites and buildings for some 150 different clients, and has provided affordable, safe and comfortable living spaces to nearly 3,000 working professionals and key workers. Of our clients, 70 per cent were and still are public sector bodies and charitable organisations and 85 per cent of our guardians are key workers. Not many people really appreciated the role of society’s key workers until the Covid pandemic hit us last year and the term came into common parlance. However, we have always been aware of their importance and quiet dedication to their jobs, often on low wages, and helping them live near to where they work so they don’t have a long and expensive commute to and from home on top of a long and demanding day, or night shift, has always been a motivating factor for us.

Our clients in the public or charity sector, and increasingly in the private sector, rightly want to be reassured they are acting responsibly and economically by handing over their vacant properties to us to manage and secure, with everyone happy in the knowledge they are being put to an ethical and socially beneficial use.

But our ethos goes beyond all this. We care about the buildings we secure too. Many are old and past their best, but that doesn’t mean they should be left to rot beyond repair, or be demolished, when they can provide much-needed, affordable accommodation.  Sustainability has always been our watchword and it has never been more appropriate than in today’s environmentally aware world. With a bit of creativity, planning, expertise and work, many old properties can be given a new lease of life to provide secure, clean and warm places to live.

That is what Global Guardians is all about. Protecting our real estate assets for future generations and helping those in need.

Case Study

A former residential care home was built around 1860 by Henry Harris, a building contractor, as his own residence. It was acquired by the Salvation Army in 1935 for use as a home, and the garden was developed with sheltered housing in 1985-86. It originally housed some 27 residents and their carers. 

The property is immaculately presented and resides in a quiet, leafy street in the sought-after residential area of Clapham in southwest London, near the delightful Clapham Common and 10 minutes from the Underground station. 

Since being taken over by Global Guardians Management in the autumn of 2015, this property has been providing spacious, impeccably kept, low-cost accommodation for 28 working professionals and key workers in an area where rents for flats or houses are high, due to the ease of fast, direct access to central London. It is estimated rents in the area start at almost twice those of the licence fees paid by guardians in this property, where their personal room space is often larger than that of more expensive small flats or HMOs elsewhere in Clapham, even without the delightful communal areas and gardens. 

With rooms available for longer-term occupation due to the owners still deciding how to make best use of the building, this project is a worthwhile social endeavour enabling people to put regular savings to one side, maybe for a mortgage deposit or to run a car, fund a hobby or other interest. It’s a far cry from having to spend every available penny on rent and struggling to buy food, never mind have a social life, which is often the case when individuals need to live near central London. 

The entire site is also kept secure, safe and free from the antisocial, malicious or criminal behaviour that has bedevilled other large, vacant properties in the area – being such an immaculate property with discerning neighbours, surrounding and securing it with fencing or hoardings would be unfeasible. 

By having property guardians in situ, this old and beautiful building is kept secure and well-maintained by Global Guardians, as well as preventing theft and other problems such as fly-tipping. The cost of round-the-clock security guards and caretakers would otherwise be prohibitive and unfeasible, especially for a charity. Using guardians has saved security costs of more than £700,000 so far and reduced insurance costs, and has negated empty business rates since the property now generates Council Tax, paid jointly by the occupants and Global Guardians. And because it has been managing this site for a charity, Global Guardians’ stewardship has resulted in more than £100,000 being donated to the Salvation Army.

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Originally published on Business Reporter

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