Kirstie Goulder

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A positive turn of events for property guardianship providers?

Property Guardianship / 02 August 2017

My trip to the home of Property Guardianship:
I will be travelling to the Netherlands (the first country to adopt the property guardianship business model) later this month to meet with a number of providers which operate there. I plan to discuss the business model and laws with a Dutch lawyer experienced in property guardianship and the regulating body of Dutch property guardian providers.

My objective is to understand how property guardianship is regulated in Netherlands and to consider whether the adoption of similar approaches here could help to raise standards and the reputation of the sector.  I shall share my findings with you in my next blog. I will also be talking with the London Assembly Housing Committee to assist with their review. Feedback following their roundtable meeting on 18 July 2017 from lead co-ordinator, Charlotte Harrison, suggests the meeting ‘went very well and was very informative’.

If you have any questions or comments that you would like me to consider or raise during my trip to the Netherlands on the guardianship business model, then please do email me within the next few weeks. I look forward to hearing from you.

Postive Developments in Bristol
Last month, I reported that property guardianship made the headlines in Bristol again when the local council expressed its intention to formally phase out property guardianship in council owned properties.

The issues relating to property guardianship in Bristol stemmed from a ‘key’ judgment handed down in Bristol County Court in February. A property guardian, Mr Roynon, was deemed to be an assured shorthold tenant as opposed to a licensee in a former care home known as “Broomhill.”
Appealing such a decision would be time consuming and costly when the focus was on securing vacant possession of the building.

So what about the other occupants?
Mr Roynon was not the only property guardian who refused to leave Broomhill. A further occupier, Ms Gontes also refused to leave the property (despite making several unsubstantiated complaints to the Council about the poor conditions). She occupied the same property, via exactly the same provider and under the same circumstances as Mr Roynon. Therefore, after the previous judgment, she might have thought she was in a strong negotiating position?

In court, it was argued that Ms Gontes occupied Broomhill under a licence agreement and that she was now a trespasser.

On 24 July 2017 (5 months after the Roynon determination and in the same court), Deputy District Judge Close agreed that Ms Gontes was in fact a mere licensee: a stark contrast to the decision based on, essentially, the same facts as Mr Roynon. The court also ordered Ms Gontes to repay the provider all the arrears and legal costs associated with the proceedings totalling over £6,500.  It also granted permission to transfer the case to the High Court for enforcement thus ensuring a swift eviction.

For me, this is interesting as in the 100 + actions for possession against property guardians I have issued, only 3 have defended the claims. All were strongly rebutted with the Judge being persuaded that the guardians were in fact licensees rather than tenants.

Reflecting on the Roynon decision, I consider this to be an anomaly and not the death knell of the guardianship business model.  Make sure you have the right (experienced) legal team on hand to secure possession for you.


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