Comment Features

Life as a property guardian

Sara Mowbray on what it’s like to guard someone’s home – by living in it This morning I woke up, drew the classroom blinds, walked […]By wfechoadmin

Sara Mowbray on what it’s like to guard someone’s home – by living in it

Former School Assembly Hall turned living room

This morning I woke up, drew the classroom blinds, walked through the assembly hall to the kitchen and cooked some breakfast.

After finishing my breakfast in the staff room I then made my way to the toilet cubicles and shower rooms to get ready for the day ahead. I grabbed some clothes from my locker, and a purse from the filing cabinet before checking my pigeonhole and heading out for the day – just an average day as a property guardian.

Confused? As a property guardian I rent and help maintain various commercial buildings such as factories, warehouses, farms, churches, police stations and most recently a school. Being a property guardian is ideal for me as it offers very affordable and spacious living. I decided to explore this approach to renting as a newcomer to London, as I learnt and understood very quickly that a cramped house share that still exceeded my full time wages was quite normal in this city.

Showering time tables, climbing over bicycles to get out of my own front door and being kept awake all night listening to someone’s else’s music was something I was not prepared to endure. This is when I made a decision to change my situation and begin actually enjoying living in London.

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

After researching alternative options of living and renting I decided to become a property guardian. Admittedly it was initially a sacrifice to leave a more central area of London in which I was living to become a property guardian in Chingford, Waltham Forest.

However, I have been able to create my own office space at home and avoid the stress associated with an unsteady income thanks to the reasonable monthly rent that comes with this scheme. I have also enjoyed meeting and sharing my living space with other likeminded people and made great friends.

In addition to this, I have discovered an unknown and progressive part of the city that has allowed me to grasp both the positive aspects of city life as well as enjoy some of London’s most admirable beauty spots, such as Epping Forest.

Unfortunately, the drawback of being a property guardian is that the properties are only being rented on a temporary basis, this is because the building will eventually be let, leased, renovated or demolished by its original owner.

As the date for the final outcome of the property gets closer, the property guardian scheme will offer other accommodation. When this date arrives, I will be disappointed to leave but also see this as part of my London journey.

It is certainly not for everyone but I personally would not swap my life as a property guardian, as it is rare that you can have a music studio, meditation room, workshop and gym all under one roof!


No news is bad news 

Independent news outlets like ours – reporting for the community without rich backers – are under threat of closure, turning British towns into news deserts. 

The audiences they serve know less, understand less, and can do less. 

In celebration of Indie News Week, Public Interest News Foundation's Indie News Fund will match fund all donations, including new annual supporter subscriptions for the month of June.

If our coverage has helped you understand our community a little bit better, please consider supporting us with a monthly, yearly or one-off donation. 

Choose the news. Don’t lose the news.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month.  £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or annually 

More Information about donations