Waterford guardians pay cheap tariff for living in stately manor

Fri, Aug 10, 2012, 01:00

LIVING SPACE in a former stately manor in Waterford is filling up fast as some thrifty people turn to property guardianship instead of renting.

Just three of 18 rooms are still available at Grace Dieu Manor, a former retreat house run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart on Tramore Road in Waterford.

Rooms cost from €100 a month for basic accommodation to €150 for a bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and shared kitchen facilities. All utilities except waste collection are covered under a licence offered by property security firm Camelot.

Fruit and vegetable wholesaler Brendan Walsh (27) from Waterford is one of 130 guardians in Ireland currently living in properties on behalf of Camelot. He spent eight months living with his parents before moving into a self-contained apartment at Grace Dieu, for which he pays €240 a month.

“It’s great. I’ve been here a month and there’s been no problems. The €100 per month rent was what caught my eye to begin with and living in the town in shared accommodation just didn’t really appeal to me,” he said. The grounds, laid out in woodlands and walkways, are an additional bonus. “I suppose €240 would get you a single or a double room in a shared house in Waterford city but I didn’t want to get caught up in that way of life. The peace and quiet here allows me to concentrate on other issues,” he said.

Guardians can live in unusual properties for a fraction of the market rental rate, according to Camelot’s Irish regional manager Damian Woods. Guardians are not legal tenants, but can live in disused buildings at discounted rates in order to protect them from falling into disrepair.

“The Waterford property is a very large house on a sprawling site with around 40 bedrooms.

“We will have three groups of six guardians around the building and they can notify us immediately of any leaks, burst pipes, or problems, whereas if the property was empty such issues could go unnoticed for 24 hours,” he said.

On the downside, guardians can be asked to leave with four weeks’ notice and are housed under a licence agreement, not a tenancy agreement. The concept originated in Holland in the 1970s. Ireland’s guardians live in disused offices, schools, nursing homes, hotels and ghost estates. They are interviewed before being given accommodation and they must be in employment.