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Rising Demand For Live-In Guardians

Family firm Homesitters Ltd expects rising demand for live-in guardians as number of long-term empty homes grows.

Research from Action on Empty Homes and Nationwide Building Society highlights that the number of long-term empty homes in England rose by 5.3%, with an additional 10,983 homes reported as being left empty. This is the fastest growth in long-term empty homes since the recession.

One of the UK’s leading homesitting companies, family run business Homesitters Ltd, expects this rise will increase the demand for live-guardians or caretakers to stay in empty residential and commercial properties to keep them secure.

Alan Irvine, Managing Director at Homesitter Ltd explains, “We offer live-in home and pet sitting services, but a growing area of our business is providing live-in guardians for empty properties – as such properties are vulnerable to vandalism, damage and theft. We are increasingly being contacted by owners of empty properties awaiting a sale, going through probate or repossession or even awaiting refurbishment or development.”

“Squatters can also be a concern for owners of commercial premises as it’s still not illegal for squatters to occupy such properties. A live-in guardian is a cost-effective way to keep the property secure, protecting the property value and reducing insurance premiums and maintenance costs.”

“All we ask is that properties are partially furnished and liveable, with a bed, running water, and functioning boiler and heating, so that our homesitters can stay comfortably. In return, property owners get peace of mind their property is being looked after and kept in good order, for however long is necessary,” adds Mr Irvine.

Milton Monk, aged 73 from Worcestershire, has worked through Homesitters Ltd since 2016. He does home and pet sittings and often acts as a live-in guardian.

When Milton retired his career as a successful pub and restaurant owner he took an ‘Adult Gap Year’ – which extended the best part of a decade He is a keen traveller and the travelling aspect of being a home and pet sitter appealed to him when he was looking for something to do in retirement.

Milton explains, “I really enjoy the variety of visiting different places that comes with homesitting. It’s great fun looking after the pets with all their individual needs and personalities – it’s never dull.”

Milton fits his assignments around his personal interests and takes on a variety of short and long home sits. As well as domestic home sits, Milton has completed several commercial sits in vacant care homes in a caretaker role, which gave him the chance to visit towns he wouldn’t have seen before.

Milton says, “I’m comfortable with my own company, but I do appreciate the failsafe system Homesitters has in place for checking in on solo sitters. I occasionally forget to call them, and it escalates very quickly if they haven’t heard from me as they like to know all is well.”

“I find the preliminary meetings with new clients extremely useful as allow both parties can check they are happy with the arrangements, plus we have the final say on whether to take the assignment on. The clients appreciate that I’m fully insured via the company should anything go awry.”

Another couple who have done domestic and commercial sits over the past 16 years are Yolande (67) and Clive Noble (72), from Telford in Shropshire. Assignments have included looking after a building that was waiting to be renovated into luxury flats in and a probate sit in a large private house that was eventually bought by a charity.

Yolande believes having caretakers for commercial and probate sits can prevent break-ins, vandalism, fly tippers and squatters. She says, “These properties are vulnerable to all sorts of damage if left unoccupied, so employing a live-in caretaker is invaluable. Too many things can go wrong in terms of vandals and squatters, but also general maintenance issues.”

“On our most recent sit we saved the client around £300 a month because of a plumbing problem and water being continually heated, wasting a lot of calor gas. We monitored this and recommended a plumber was brought in to fix it. This saved the client a lot of money as it probably wouldn’t have been spotted for months otherwise.”

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