To address the challenge of this highly contagious virus we must all work together, and everybody must be protected.
The members of the Association, the three leading providers of Guardian properties in the UK, Ad Hoc Property Management, VPS Guardians and Live-in Guardians, have agreed the following things.
1) It is of paramount importance that PGPA members work with their guardians to support them during the next three months of this crisis in both financial terms and with regards to their health and safety. Approximately a third of the PGPA members guardians are key workers: nurses, paramedics and ambulance staff, teachers, police officers and firefighters - we estimate over 2,000 – and that most of those live in London. About a third of guardians work in the creative sector - artists, performers, photographers, graphic designers and more - and many of these people will have either severely reduced income now, or none.
2) It is important to remember too, that PGPA guardian companies employ hundreds of staff and that their protection, both with regards to employment and health, is also paramount. The profit margins are very slim, so the crisis will also be a trial for maintaining business continuity in the sector.
3) Any guardian, who, from the week beginning 16th March, has lost part or all of their income through the coronavirus crisis, and is not able to pay all or part of their monthly licence fee, will not be served notice to leave. This excludes circumstances where guardians seriously breach other areas of their license agreement such as violent behaviour or criminal acts, or when the building is no longer available for use as a guardian property (see 10, below).
4) All PGPA members planned license fee increases for guardians for 1st April have been suspended for three months.
5) For guardians who demonstrate they have lost part or all of their income through the virus crisis:
- Those who are already in guardianship agreements with member companies, and then subsequently lose their income because of the coronavirus crisis, will be allowed to remain as guardians, if and when they begin claiming benefits. Members of the PGPA have agreed to waive the principle in these instances of allowing people on benefits to be guardians. Following discussions with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, they have confirmed with the Department of Work and Pensions, in a direct communication with the PGPA, that Property Guardian license agreements will have the same status as valid tenancy arrangements for the purposes of receiving housing costs support in Universal Credit. This recognises that license agreements and fees are neither tenancy agreements or rents, and follows the PGPA members decision to waive the principle that people claiming benefits cannot be guardians for people who are currently in guardianship programmes but subsequently lose their income through the coronavirus crisis.
- If they apply and receive housing benefits, guardians would be expected to deploy those funds to help cover their license fees.
For those who are unable to access this additional support, the PGPA member will review with the guardian their fee arrangements on an individual basis. Options are being actively investigated to find ways that both support the guardians and maintain an income so that the guardian providers’ businesses can continue to operate.
6) All PGPA members are currently communicating with their guardians at least weekly, keeping them up to date on the latest Government advice on the prevention of the spread of the virus. We strongly urge guardians to follow and heed that advice. Stay at home. Help the NHS. Save Lives.
7) Although this may become difficult to maintain in these circumstances, company staff will try to continue to inspect the guardian properties but will be asked to keep a socially safe distance from guardians, and will not be expected to enter guardians' rooms. They will continue to check fire escapes and all safety measures taken within the properties, including the clearways of the escape routes.
8) This year the PGPA introduced a coordinated partnership with a Primary Authority, who has conducted a series of fire and safety audits on members properties. We confirmed on 18th March with the Authority directly, that these audits will continue during the coronavirus crisis unless government guidelines restrict their attendance. Only members of the PGPA are subject to these independent audits, which can be requested at short notice.
9) Where guardians have already been given their notice to leave prior to the coronavirus pandemic, through having enacted serious breaches of their licence agreements, from long-term non-payment of fees through to unacceptable (e.g. violent) behaviour, these notices will not be suspended or halted.
10) Property guardian companies will always strive to find alternative accommodation for guardians, should their property be required for use to provide services pertaining to the crisis. But they cannot make any guarantees because only available and appropriate accommodation can provide alternatives, and if these are not available then there are no options to do so. In one instance, for example, a local authority has required a property back from a guardianship scheme to provide a drop-in centre for covid-19 purposes.
- Contact Name:
- Brenda Mathis
- Knole Park Ltd
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