Been Homeless? No? A Property Guardian Maybe — Not Quite Homeless, But Usefully Close

garden surrounding brick house
A fine house to live in and take care of, until the owner wants it back.

Late in life, I’m pleased to learn a little about property guardianship. Seems I was a property guardian and never knew it. So was my daughter, at least in a family sense. She was born in a stable. It was a Toronto downtown factory-type building, brick and concrete.

Once upon a time, milk carriages were trundled in and out of the ground floor. Horses were then led up a wide staircase to their home on the floor where we later lived — 2,000 square feet of empty space for $50/mo, ridiculously cheap even in the early 1970’s.

We added to a rudimentary collection of rooms. Building stairs allowed us to break out through a skylight to create a green roof well before its time. The landlord didn’t care. We never met him. We can only assume he knew and appreciated that we were property guardians, which we only vaguely realized ourselves.

Eventually we sold the highly unofficial tenancy onwards. We charged the same $1,000 key money we had originally paid to acquire it. Much later we learned that, before it was knocked down to build the townhouses now occupying the site, our roof garden made it into a feature film. Never saw it.

Property guardianship is apparently an ever-growing ‘thing.’ Shining light upon it illuminates the failure of national housing systems plaguing more than one first-world country. Learn more about property guardianship in THE CONVERSATION: The rise and rise of property guardianship and what it says about our broken housing system