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'The downside of being a property guardian'

Dr Sarah Keenan quoted critiquing the rights of property guardians in recent BBC News article.

In a recent piece published by BBC News Magazine, Dr Sarah Keenan is quoted critiquing the rights of property guardians.

Property guardians, according to the article, 'pay to take "licence" of a room or space within a vacant building for less money than a private rental agreement - earning the owner of the building cash and keeping genuine squatters away.'

As licensees they don't have a lot of rights, Dr Sarah Keenan explains. "Whereas a tenant has the right to exclude 'all the world' including the landlord, licensees have the lesser right of 'occupation', and are generally expected to allow the landlord access as and when he seeks it."

Sarah links the growth in property guardians to the housing crisis. "Guardianship properties are highly exploitative of the housing crisis. The situation guardianship companies are setting up is one that profits from buildings being left undeveloped and all but uninhabitable for long periods, and from the increasingly desperate situation of people who are unable to afford market rent.

"It makes the crisis worse by normalising a situation in which landowners view their land as a purely financial asset rather than a limited and vital human resource, where non-owners live in squalid and potentially unsafe temporary accommodation."

Sarah recently organised a one-day event which investigated how concept of ownership is often used interchangeably with that of property (Lateral Property: Land, Law and Power Beyond Freehold “Ownership”).

She says "The Lateral Property workshop brought together scholars working on property from a range of different angles and perspectives.

"Issues addressed on the day included fracking, Indigenous land rights, forced geopolitical displacement, gentrification and the growth of high rise apartments and gated communities."

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