EMPTY properties can be a sad sight in any community.

Seeing once-brilliant buildings falling into disrepair, being vandalised or even becoming home to squatters can create unrest for locals and bad first impressions for visitors.

And with demand for low-cost housing remaining high, local authorities are doing everything they can to bring existing properties back into use – from offering grants to charging additional council tax.

But in Wellington a different solution is being tried – with great success.

AdHoc Property Management, a company based in London, takes on empty properties on behalf of their private owners and regenerates them by turning them into temporary affordable housing.

The people who come to live there as “property guardians” live on rolling 28-day agreements, and are responsible for maintaining the property, as well as reporting any issues to the company to prevent the structure from deteriorating.

One of the company’s more recent acquisitions is a former care home in Wellington, which is now home to 25 guardians.

The properties are marketed at people who are in need of low-cost housing – including contractors, people on low incomes, and those who have recently separated or divorced.

One of the first guardians to move into this property was local Chris Goodyer, who moved into a section of the ground floor in early-April after seeing the property advertised on Rightmove.

Since then, he has transformed his area of the property into a beautiful bedroom (with a Victorian bedstead) and a spacious lounge – and takes full advantage of the gardens.

He said: “I absolutely love it – I love having the use of this beautiful building.

“This could be a one-time thing that you may never do again – but you can say that you’ve been in this wonderful place.”

AdHoc typically offers the properties to guardians at 60 per cent the market rent for the area.

This allows guardians to save money they would otherwise spend on rent – though the low cost can paradoxically put some people off.

Guardian recruiter Trina Lewis said: “People say to us: ‘This price is great, but what’s the catch?’.

“We use an external referencing company who carry out four checks on people applying to be here – an employment check, an affordability check (to make sure they are earning at least two-and-a-half times the rent), a previous landlord check and a credit check.”

Occasionally extra checks are required – for instance, if the building is near a school, all guardians will have to be DBS-checked for safeguarding reasons.

All the guardians in the building keep in touch via a WhatsApp group, and socials are regularly organised in the communal areas.

Many of the occupants work shifts (such as at the community hospital), and some prefer to keep to themselves – but there is a great community spirit among the group.

Mr Goodyer said: “We don’t go overboard with socials, since some people work shifts, but we’ve done film nights and had beers or ciders in the garden. We take good care of this property.”

While this property is currently full, AdHoc manages other properties in the Taunton area, and is always on the lookout for new buildings which it can take on and leave in the safe hands of guardians.

For more information on becoming a property guardian, or for properties being managed in your area, visit www.adhocproperty.co.uk or call 020 7042 5558.