Property guardian schemes are proving popular with young people trying to save the deposit to buy a home of their own.

A number of companies provide live-in guardian services for empty buildings like old schools and care homes as well as empty houses across England. Their guardians pay a low rent in return for helping to keep vandals and squatters out.

Camelot, one of the longest established, currently has low rent accommodation from just £65 a week in Sutton, Carshalton and Wallington and are inviting local people to apply.

“We find that creative types and key workers tend to live in the properties and enjoy this style of living,” said Camelot spokesperson Fiona Hanley.

“Becoming a Guardian allows them to save up for a deposit, live communally with interesting, like minded people and create a home in a unique and often large space.”

Camelot works with estate agents, councils, surveyors, banks and private land owners to provide guardian services. For owners, the attraction is having someone help protect their empty properties from squatters, vandals and thieves, while giving early warning of structural damage like leaks or breakages. In exchange the guardians get cheap, often unusual accommodation and the chance to save for something like the deposit for a house.

Nelson Garcia, a Camelot Live-in Guardian since 2009 resides in part of a former Victorian hospital for £270 per month.

“I have two wonderful, huge rooms, I have my bedroom and then a room I use as a studio that in normal circumstances I would never be able to afford,” said Nelson.

Anyone applying to be a Camelot Live-In Guardian must be over 18, in paid work, able to provide references and understand that it is a temporary option. The properties are unfurnished and while the buildings are insured, guardians must take out insurance for their own belongings. Some critics argue that live-in guardians don’t have the same rights and security as tenants in traditional lets.

“Primarily the Live-in Guardian solution is a security service and people live in the properties during the temporary period of vacancy,” said Fiona Hanley.

“On average, the properties stay under Camelot’s management for a year but we have had some shorter and some for up to five years.

“We always try to re-house Guardians. The termination period is two weeks but we always let Guardians know when a property is being handed back as soon as the owner has been in touch.

Camelot say the Live-in Guardian solution costs 70% less than traditional security, saving owners on average £70,000 per year per building. Insurance costs are lower too. The council tax for each property is divided between all Guardians and includes within their monthly licence fee.

For further information about the Camelot Live-In Guardian scheme visit: