Property guardians London: how cheap rent in the city centre helped dating app entrepreneur launch tech start-up

Property guardians are a fast-growing meanwhile sector, offering low-rent accommodation in commercial buildings that are awaiting redevelopment.

About 7,000 mainly young Londoners have managed to pay for a roof over their head in this way.

Mustafa Raee, 33, has lived in a listed bank in the City of London for more than two years.

He expected to be there for just a few months, but the redevelopment project has been delayed.

“There’s massive demand for this sort of accommodation,” he says.

“When I went to view the property there were 120 people queuing for 10 living spaces.

His home is the bank’s former boardroom.

“I studied architecture at university and have been allowed to make improvements to the accommodation and create a second bedroom.”

Show me the money: start-up entrepreneur Mustafa Raee has been a property guardian for two years, living in the boardroom of a listed former bank in the City (Daniel Hambury)

Being able to live cheaply in such a central location with no commuting costs has freed up Raee to get on with his life as a start-up entrepreneur. He is about to launch a new dating app called Wedodates.

“If you are a young person who wants to save to get on the property ladder, being a guardian is a great solution,” he says. “Maybe I’ve been lucky. I have friends who have had bad experiences.”

Guardians are not classed as tenants so they are unprotected by the Housing Act. Instead they enter into a licence agreement with an agency such as Live-in Guardians.

While guardians keep out squatters and help prevent buildings falling into disrepair, there are concerns that some people could be living in low-standard properties.

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