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Empty School Buildings Rise As Primary School Enrolment Drops By 16.6%

Primary school enrolment in England is projected to decline by 16.6% over the next decade, resulting in over 750,000 fewer pupils. However, in London, factors such as Brexit, Covid, and high housing costs are contributing to a migration trend, exacerbating the issue.

This surplus in school places creates a financial burden as schools receive funding based on the number of pupils rather than their capacity. According to the Department for Education, Lambeth is predicted to have the highest percentage of unused primary school places at 29.2% next year, with eight out of the top ten areas with the highest proportion of surplus places being London boroughs.

The decrease in pupil numbers is affecting not only state schools but also the approximately 2,600 Catholic schools in England and Wales. The number of Catholic schools has been decreasing dramatically in recent years due to a decline in the Catholic population, competition from other schools, and again, financial strains.


Unfortunately, empty public buildings, such as schools, are attractive to vandals and squatters. They are often in central locations, with multiple access points and due to their commercial status, squatting in them isn’t considered a crime.  Should an empty school be targeted by squatters, owners face a very lengthy and costly court process to get control of the property back.

Some owners of empty schools board up the property, but since many are located in residential areas, this often doesn’t go down well with local residents. Not only do boarded up buildings look unsightly, they are often still susceptible to antisocial behaviour and dilapidation. In addition, as the UK goes through a cost of living and housing crisis, having large, empty, publicly funding buildings, clearly sitting empty doesn’t demonstrate efficacies in public spending.  


However, there is one option that education providers are increasingly turning to, one that makes both economic and social sense – Property Guardianship. It’s an option that benefits not only the property owner, but also the local community and those in need of affordable accommodation.

Thanks to their good transport links and often central locations, schools are often sought after by property guardians. They often have large rooms and plenty of communal space, often even a garden or courtyard.  

On a practical level, schools are often well equipped for hosting property guardians thanks to built-in toilet facilities and kitchens. Any additional features such as showers can easily be fitted and DEX can typically have a building fit for guardians within just 10 days of conducting a site visit.  Should a school face a sudden closure, we can usually place an emergency guardian in the building within just 24 hours.

Guardianship also makes financial sense. Not only are property guardians provided at zero cost, in many cases owners make money back per guardian in situ – turning what would be a cost into a revenue stream. DEX are often able to get the property ready for guardians at no cost to the owner.  

the next steps

If you own an empty school, DEX Property Guardians can provide you with a cost-effective solution that mitigates the risk of vandalism and squatting. Our reliable Guardian security services offer peace of mind, allowing you to focus on new opportunities and even generate additional revenue streams.

Contact us today, and we can arrange to secure your property at no cost to you. Don’t let your unoccupied school become a target for threats – let DEX Property Guardians provide a practical and efficient solution.

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The Important Role Of DEX Reps In Our Houseshares

In order to keep our larger house shares running smoothly and harmoniously, we often place an experienced Property Guardian as our ‘DEX Rep’.

DEX Reps live in the property and act as a point of contact for their fellow guardians. They liaise closely with DEX’s Guardian Management Team, reporting any issues promptly and assisting with monthly inspections and viewings. Above all, they ensure the property is being well cared for, guardian guidelines are being followed and that the house has a welcoming and friendly atmosphere.

A Watchful Eye

DEX Reps are responsible for overseeing their fellow guardians and ensuring rules and regulations are being followed. They inform DEX promptly of any maintenance issues and help conduct regular property inspections. Their watchful eye helps ensure DEX properties are well-maintained and guardian guidelines are being adhered to.

Providing Access

As well as helping DEX in the maintenance and upkeep of the property DEX Reps also help provide access to the building. Should a client or contractor need to gain entry to the building, DEX Reps are on hand to facilitate. They also help DEX with viewings, showing new guardians around the property when they are thinking of joining the property guardian community.


DEX Rep’s provide a point of contact between DEX and their fellow property guardians. They liaise directly with the Guardian Management team reporting any maintenance issues promptly. This ensures that there are clear and effective communication channels between all parties helping to prevent any misunderstandings or conflicts.

Create a Sense of Community

DEX Reps are a point of contact for guardians in their building. They provide support and guidance to fellow guardians, ensuring they are comfortable and settled in their property. They help guardians connect and socialise with each other, often organising communal events, such as meals or film nights.

DEX Reps also help to resolve any issues or conflicts that may arise among the guardians, which help ensure a positive and supportive community within the houseshare.

Want to find out more about becoming a DEX Rep?

We are always looking to for more DEX Reps, so if you feel like you have what it takes to go that extra mile please get in contact with the Guardian Management Team today.
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Guardianship: Solving the Housing Crisis by Addressing Vacancy

Room with a desk and table

As the cost of housing increases, particularly in urban areas, many young professionals are really feeling the impact of the housing crisis, finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable and flexible housing solutions. On the other hand, owners of empty commercial and residential property worry about the soaring costs associated with maintaining vacant property while securing buildings against antisocial behaviour and squatters.

As a result, property guardianship is gaining popularity in cities across the UK, providing an innovative, win-win solution to both individuals and property owners alike.  

What is Property Guardianship

Property guardianship, is a housing arrangement where fully vetted individuals live in empty or unused properties for a small monthly fee, often much cheaper than market rent, in exchange for maintaining and securing the property.

A huge range of property types can be turned into great spaces for guardians to live and thrive in, even places you might not expect. Churches, old schools, police stations and care homes can make wonderful, unique living spaces, as do more traditional houses and flats that are waiting regeneration or development. Otherwise empty buildings get a new lease of life, while providing an affordable and flexible housing solution.

Property Guardians sign a licence agreement rather than a tenancy agreement, giving more flexibility on both sides. Guardians are entitled to the same legal protection as tenants in regard to health and safety, fire and HMO legislation but both parties can terminate the agreement with 28 days’ notice.

Guardianship – Part of The Housing crisis Solution

Guardianship won’t fix the whole housing crisis and it isn’t the right for everyone, but it can be part of the solution. It’s not for families or people looking for long term housing, but for many people the flexibility suits their lifestyle, especially in today’s society.

Guardians are part of a growing community and often enjoy the social connection of living with other like-minded individuals, something that is particularly beneficial for people who are new to a city or looking to make new friends. Property Guardians are always carefully and extensively vetted, resulting in a socially responsible, professional and trusted community.

Helping the wider community

In addition to providing affordable housing options, guardianship helps address the issue of vacant properties. In many cities, there are numerous empty buildings that are boarded up and left unused for extended periods of time. Not only is this an eye sore for the local community, it can lead to a range of issues, such as vandalism, deterioration and squatters.

By allowing trusted property guardians to live in these empty properties, landlords can keep them occupied and secure, which can help to prevent these issues from occurring, positively impacting the local neighbourhood.

Next steps...

The team at DEX Property Management are here to guide you through the process of securing empty property through guardianship. Click below to find out how guardians could be securing your property within 10 days, often free of charge.

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Harmonious Property Guardian Houseshares

Person watering plants in house

Sharing a house with fellow property guardians can be a great way to save money and make new friends. However, it can also bring challenges, especially when it comes to living with people who have different lifestyles and routines. To ensure things stay harmonious, here are our top tips for creating an enjoyable guardian community within our houseshare properties.

1. Open and Regular Communication

Communication is key when it comes to sharing a house with other property guardians. Make sure to have regular discussions about expectations, responsibilities, and any issues that may arise. This can help prevent misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Clear Rules and Guidelines

Having a set of clear rules and guidelines can help create a sense of structure and order in the shared living space. This can include things like quiet hours, guests, shared space usage, and more. Make sure to discuss these rules with your fellow guardians and agree on what works best for everyone.

3. Fair Division of Tasks

Living with other property guardians can mean more hands to help with chores and maintenance, but it is important to divide tasks fairly. Make a schedule or assign tasks to each person to ensure a clean and organised living space.

4. Respect and Consideration

Sharing a living space with others requires a certain level of respect and consideration. Be mindful of other property guardians’ privacy, property, and personal space. Follow the rules and be considerate of others needs and feelings.

5. Compromise and Problem-Solving

Conflicts are bound to arise when living with others, but it is important to approach these conflicts with a willingness to compromise and find solutions together. Be open-minded and try to see things from your fellow guardians’ perspective.

6. Positive and Friendly Atmosphere

Encouraging a positive and friendly atmosphere can help foster a sense of community and bring property guardians closer together. Share meals, watch movies, play games, or engage in other fun activities to bond and strengthen your relationships.

7. Clean and Organised Shared Spaces

Keeping the shared spaces clean and organised can prevent build-up of dirt, grime, and clutter, making the living space much more pleasant to be in. Encourage everyone to take responsibility for maintaining a clean and tidy shared living space.

8. Share communal expenses

A cash kitty in a shared house can be a great way to manage shared expenses and ensure everyone is contributing fairly. Decide what expenses it will be used for, such as household items and cleaning supplies, agree on a reasonable contribution amount and collection system to ensure everyone is contributing fairly.  

9. Open Door Policy

Encourage open communication and have an open-door policy. Listen to any concerns or suggestions your fellow guardians may have and be willing to make changes or compromises if necessary.

10. Enjoy Each Other's Company

Finally, remember to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. Sharing a house with a group of property guardians can be a great opportunity to make new friends and create long-lasting memories.


Interested in living as a property guardian in one out our shared properties? Check out our available property page to see our current vacancies.

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Utility Bills & Empty Property

With ever increasing energy prices owners of empty property are often quick to disconnect utility supply altogether, but switching everything off can be short sighted and throw up a number of problems.

Turning off electricity & gas in empty property

It can be tempting to turn off electric and gas supply to an empty property, especially as these utilities are likely to put you most out of pocket, but it’s important to think about the bigger picture for a number of reasons;

  • During cold spells pipes can freeze and burst without heating.
  • Risk of dampness, mould and rot rises with no heat.
  • Contractors and tradespeople often need power for tools to carry out work or maintenance.
  • Site visits and viewings can he hard with no lighting
  • Most providers charge disconnection and reconnection fees.
  • It can affect your insurance on the property.

Turning water off in an empty property

Escape of water claims are one of the most likely causes of damage when a property is unoccupied, but again switching everything off and draining down the water system can cause owners problems. There are often disconnection fees and it’s hard to carry out building and maintenance work if there is no running water in the property.

However, leaving stagnant water in pipes and toilets can pose a huge health risk (including exposure to the deadly legionnaires disease) and cause pipes to freeze and burst in cold weather. These can often go unnoticed for long periods in vacant property, resulting in expensive floods and water damage.

Finding a solution

One of the best solutions to both keep the property safe and to save money is appointing property guardians to come and secure and maintain the property while it is empty.

Fully vetted property guardians can move into most empty commercial and residential properties making sure it is protected round the clock. By living in the property they mitigate many of the risks of leaving a building vacant, ensuring the property is well maintained and cared for while in between uses.

Property Guardians are provided at zero cost to owners, and most properties can be turned into habitable spaces for guardians to live and thrive in. DEX’s in-house team can install temporary facilities at zero cost and in many cases utilities are paid by the guardians while they are caring for the property.

Next steps

If you have property that is currently or soon to be vacant, contact us to find out how DEX can secure empty property through Property Guardians, reducing costs, risks and complexities associated with managing vacant properties.

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Protecting Empty Property Against The Threat of Squatters

Squatters pose a huge threat to owners of empty commercial property across the UK, with unauthorised occupants causing damage to thousands of buildings across the country each year. Although the exact numbers of squatters in the UK isn’t officially recorded,  10 years ago estimated there could be as many as 50,000 individuals* squatting in the UK. Today, in a post Covid world, with the loaming cost of living crisis, that figure is expected to be significantly higher. 

The damage squatters can inflict on a property is substantial, stripping buildings of fixtures and assets, fly tipping, disrupting local communities and attract other forms of anti-social behaviour.  

The clean up cost can run into tens of thousand of pounds, repairing the damage, cleaning up the property and mitigating any reputational damage caused – and that is before you take into account the legal costs of removing the squatters. 

The law around squatting

Squatting is the act of deliberately entering a property, without permission of the owner, with the intention of living in it. Despite squatting in a residential property becoming illegal in 2012, it is still legal to squat in a commercial buildings in the UK. 

Squatting in a commercial property is actually classed as a civil offence, so unless criminal activity has taken place such as vandalism, anti-social behaviour, stealing or breaking and entering, the police will not be able to get involved. 

Squatters, or a succession of squatters can claim to become the registered owners of a property if they have occupied a property, without the owners permission for more than 10 years.  

can squatters be evicted?

Evicting squatters is the responsibility of the property owner and failure to act quickly can result in a lengthy, not to mention very expensive, court process.

Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, property owners can legally remove squatters by applying for an Interim Possession Order (IPO), but applications for an IPO must be made within 28 days of the owner finding out that the property has been taken over.

Once the IPO has been issued by the court and served to the squatters, they must vacate the premises within 24 hours and not return for 12 months. However, squatters are often very well informed about their legal position, and the process to remove them is often not that straightforward.

the true cost of eviction

If squatters invade commercial premises, the legal fees for eviction normally start at around £5000, but owners will also be left responsible for the clean-up bill, which can be a significantly more. Repairing damage, rubbish clearance, changing locks and making the property secure again can dramatically increase the cost to owners and this is before you take into account reputational damage and loss of rent throughout the whole process. 

protecting your empty property

Squatters pose a real risk to owners of vacant property and prevention, by ensuring the property remains secure and visibly in use, is the best form of protection. Owners can install CCTV or even appoint security guards to help, but by far the most effective deterrent against squatters are Property Guardians.  

Property Guardians protect property through occupation, providing a cost-effective way to keep buildings safe and secure 24/7. They act as a strong and visible deterrent, caring for and maintaining the property, whilst bringing peace of mind to owners and the wider community. Guardians are often provided free of charge and in many cases actually provide owners with a revenue stream.

To find out more about how guardianship could help secure your property against squatters and other vacant risks, we invite you to contact us to arrange an informal chat.

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Vacant Property Risks Rise Once The Clocks Go Back

secure empty property

Dark days, early nights and extreme winter weather mean added risk for empty properties. Buildings that stand vacant are exposed to greater threats over the cold months, risks include;


Winter Crime

Vacant properties are more susceptible to crime in the winter months than at any other time of the year. Research by Co-Op Insurance highlights that as soon as the clocks go back in October, property related crime increases as much as 36%.

Darker evenings and shorter days provide burglars and opportunist criminals with more opportunity under the cov­er of dark­ness, lead­ing to a rise in mali­cious dam­age and prop­er­ty insur­ance claims dur­ing the win­ter months.

Having property guardians residing in property gives around the clock protection, helping deter criminal activity. Guardians secure empty property and act as your eyes and ears on the ground and can report suspicious activity as soon as it occurs.


When the temperature drops, the chances of squatting increases. People who most need shelter will seek to enter the most vulnerable buildings, and there’s no doubt that unused buildings or those awaiting refurbishment are the most susceptible to squatters and break-ins.

Guardians ensure the property remains visibly occupied, acting as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour and squatters. Squatting in a residential property is a criminal offence, whereas squatting in a commercial property is seen as a civil offence, making it harder to evict trespassers. Property Guardians deter squatters and can give temporary residential status, providing greater legal protection to owners.

Weather Damage

During the winter season empty property is at heighten risk of weather damage. Roofs can become damaged through water penetrating through weather pointing or rendering and tiles can lift in extreme winds. It’s not just external areas at risk, internal areas of the property can quickly become water damaged. Burst pipes as a result of frozen pipes thawing out are a common issue and mould can quickly form from humidity and lack of ventilation, even if the property has been closed up for a short time.

Many of these issues are relatively straightforward and easy to fix, but the issue arises as the property is empty and the damage is not discovered until sometime after the event. By then the damage has worsened and repairs could run into thousands of pounds to rectify. Property Guardians secure empty property and are ae the condition of a building and report any faults as they occur. DEX has an in-house maintenance who can repair minor issues at zero cost to the property owner.

Pest Infestation

It’s not just humans who looks for shelter over the colder months. Pests, such as rats, mice and squirrels head for the warmth of a nest in winter, and empty properties are an easy target.

Aside from being a health issue and nuisance for neighbours, pests can also cause considerable damage to properties, particularly by gnawing through electric cables and timbers.

Property Guardians act as a huge deterrent. Not only are rodents deterred by humans, Guardians are able to alert DEX if any are spotted in or around the property. Early measures can then be taken to address the issue before a full infestation occurs.


Finally, if your property is vacant, you need to keep a weather eye on your insurance over the winter months. In many cases, a claim for damage caused by winter issues will only be upheld if the vacant property itself has been secured, well maintained and if the insurer has been informed that the property will be vacant.

Property Guardians protect the property around the clock, ensure it is visibly lived in and have access to DEX’s in-house 24/7 maintenance team should any issues arise. Insurance companies appreciate that having Property Guardians in place ensures the property is more secure that when using traditional security methods. Taking all reasonable steps in maintaining and securing your vacant property not only minimises the risk of problems but maximises the chance of insurance company support in the event of a crisis.

Why Use Property Guardians

If you have prop­er­ty that is cur­rent­ly or soon-to-be vacant, con­tact us to find out how DEX can secure empty property through Property Guardians,  reducing costs, risks and complexities associated with managing vacant properties, particularly in the winter months. Call us on 0800 0855 994 or email


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Empty Building Warning Issued, As Summer Holidays See An Increase In Urban Exploration.

secure empty property

Officials warn of the dangers of trespasses entering derelict or empty buildings over the summer months and the legal implication this can have on Property Owners.

Lighter evenings and warmer weather leave more teenagers and young people looking for things to do over the summer holidays. Empty and derelict buildings can be a magnet for young people, but the recent craze for urban exploration can lead to anti-social behaviour, further damage to property or injuries to individuals.

It is a property owners’ responsibility to secure empty property or sites. Whether the property is residential or commercial, by law, the owner has to ensure it’s safe for a member of the public to enter or pass by. Derelict buildings should be secure and made as safe as possible. Failure to do so could result in the Property Owner be liable, should a trespasser injure themselves while onsite or in the building.

Councils, police and fire and rescue services have come together to reach out to owners of vacant property. They are urging owners to ensure their buildings are as secure as possible, especially over the summer months.

Tig Outlaw, Cabinet member for community safety and public protection, said “Many empty buildings are unlit and there is a risk of tripping or becoming impaled on railings trying to enter or exit a site. I would urge the public to report any sites of particular concern”

“Emergency services have to respond to all fires, and this includes those set deliberately in empty or unused properties.” Added Howard Watts, Senior Fire Officer. “Not only does it put our crew members at risk, it also means while we are responding to incidents of that nature, we are not able to respond as promptly to other emergencies.”

Backing the safety call, Superintendent Sarah Jackson from Hampshire Constabulary, said “We are working with partners to make sure that youngsters realise any empty building could have dangers inside and since these buildings are very often private property, they are trespassing.

“My message to owners is to make sure your site is secured and for the public to be aware of any suspicious activity. Although trespassing itself is not a criminal offence, it is often linked with criminal damage and anti-social behaviour, which we have a number of powers that we can use to tackle.”

How to secure empty property

DEX Property Management offers a solution – Property Guardians. Guardians secure empty property through occupation, providing a highly effective solution that is at zero cost to the property owner – in some cases, it can even provide a revenue. If you would like further information about how Property Guardians could help secure empty property you own or manage please email

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DEX announces ongoing support for homeless youth charity, LandAid


DEX Property Management has announced it will provide ongoing support for homeless youth charity, Landaid.

LandAid, which describes itself as ‘The Property Industry Charity’ brings the property industry together to provide safe and affordable accommodation for young people. As part of DEX’s support for the cause, the team will take part in a number of fundraising events over the coming months. These include a Mudathon, where DEX’s team of property experts and Property Guardians will compete in an extreme 5k challenge – dubbed the UK’s toughest obstacle course! In addition to this, the team is hoping to complete other challenges to raise much needed funds including sleeping on the streets for a night and Steptober.

DEX Property Management is keen to highlight the plight of homeless young people across the UK; something Managing Director Rogier Donkersloot believes can be reduced via the use of empty properties. He said ‘There are thousands of commercial and residential buildings sitting empty across the country. These buildings are falling into a state of disrepair and are susceptible to asset theft, break-ins, and anti-social behaviour. Often these buildings were once pillars of the community such as disused hospitals, care homes, libraries, and schools; to see them in a dilapidated condition when they could be used to provide affordable housing is wrong.’

In addition to their fundraising efforts, DEX has also pledged to implement a number of social commitments over the next year. These include taking on apprentices, work placements and volunteering to give back to the UK’s communities.

Rogier continued ‘We are pleased to be supporting youth homelessness through our fundraising efforts this year. The team at DEX are committed to supporting communities and helping to reduce homelessness. We will also match client donations to LandAid on a per Guardian, per month basis across our properties. We are hoping to get both staff and our Property Guardians involved in fundraising throughout the year. As part of our growing social commitment, we’ll also be endeavouring to give back to the community in other ways including litter picking and helping in local food banks.’

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Empty School Buildings Need Looking After Before Disposal

Empty school buildings need looking after before disposal

Disused educational buildings are playing an important role in offering housing solutions in the UK’s major towns and cities says Rogier Donkersloot, Managing Director at DEX Property Management.

A report from 2018 by the Education Authority marked 27 schools for potential closure due to ‘sustainability’ issues for the period of 2018-2019. Donkersloot said: “ That’s a lot of empty school building floor space across the country that could be utilised for housing. I believe property guardianship is a solution that makes economic and social sense. It’s an option that benefits both the property owner and those in need of affordable accommodation.”

Empty schools or university buildings following closures or awaiting refurbishments are susceptible to break-ins, structural damage and squatting. There is also the issue of metal theft and asset stripping, as well as burst pipes in the winter. Donkersloot says Property Guardians can help to mitigate building damage and ensure a steady stream of people are seen entering and leaving the property.

“There are around 32,000 schools in the UK, and schools are often sold or disposed of as sites are moved to more modern/fit for purpose sites. In this case guardians provide a few added benefits. These include keeping the property in good condition and stopping dilapidation – which can help facilitate a faster sale if the property is to be sold. They also offer access to the property throughout the selling process or planning/development.”

Donkersloot added: “In 2011, it was estimated there were 20,000 squatters in the UK, but eight years on it is likely this figure has risen significantly. Large public buildings are often attractive to squatters who may view schools as an easy prospect due to lack of occupancy.”

Education Design and Build Journal – May/June 2019

Empty school buildings