Information about arrangements with third parties for one-off or recurring hall hires, residential leases and licenses to occupy premises for organisations such as scouts and nurseries can be found in the following paragraphs. All statutory Health and Safety tasks must be observed for the safety of all occupants or users. Buildings must be fit for the use intended and safe in the event of a fire or other hazards.
Gas, electricity and water (and their relevant appliances) are covered by Health and Safety Regulations - the diocesan property team can support parish teams with these checks. When allowing third parties to use our premises it is important to go through: fire procedures, the location of first aid equipment - with instructions on how to complete the Accident Book if there is an incident -and which entrances and exits to use. We prohibit hirers from bringing naked flames onto the premises (small birthday cake candles are allowed) or using bouncy castles.
The Parish Hall Hiring Agreement is designed for one-off lets, for example, for parties or for a one-month language schoosl. Parish Priests may sign the agreement with the hirer - for regular lettings see leases/licences. Hiring out the parish hall can generate income as a contribution towards its upkeep though a parish hall does not generally produce sufficient income to cover its full running costs. The management of lettings needs careful consideration, in particular; the cleaning of floors, toilet facilities and kitchen needs planning between lets. Lettings must not be for purposes contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church nor which could cause offence.
A commercial hirer must hold public indemnity insurance with a minimum limit of indemnity of £5 million with proof of this given to the parish before any agreement is signed. Hirers may hold private parties but must not hold public entertainments. Hirers should undertake their own risk assessments for general usage and fire.
Hirers for children's groups must have their own child protection procedures and will be expected to follow these. They should be asked to attach a copy of their own procedures to the agreement and by signing the agreement affirm that these will be adhered to at all times. Any group wishing to make use of parish accommodation and facilities that do not have their own procedures should contact E: firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the relevant policies. The hirer will sign an affirmation undertaking to follow these procedures in relation to all their work with children and young people, preventing child abuse and responding to child protection concerns.
A standard Parish Hall Hiring Agreement is available below - a separate information sheet should be drawn up giving the hire rates for the different parts of the building. The best way to assess rates is by comparing them with other halls in the vicinity.
When the arrangement is ongoing a Licence Agreement should be used. A Licence or Lease Agreement is used when the arrangement is ongoing or relates to the entire building. Leases are drawn up by the Diocesan solicitors. The Lease/Licence Heads of Terms form is required: this is also used for licenses with nurseries/preschools and scouts.
A number of residential properties in the Diocese are been made available to tenants using an assured shorthold tenancy (AST). This requires a legal agreement drawn up by the diocesan solicitor. As it is a disposition of land and the trustees have to comply with the requirements of the Charities Act 2011. The Diocese usually recommends the use of a letting agent for residential lettings. The agent acts as intermediary between the parish and tenant and this helps reduce any personal involvement or difficulties with the tenant. However, the agents must use the agreement drawn up by the Diocesan solicitors. Deposits have to lodged with a Government approved deposit agency, the letting agents will arrange this.
When a tenant is found, the trustees have to receive a report from a "competent" person or a chartered valuation surveyor on the proposed tenancy - a "competent" person is someone with knowledge of the rental market such as an estate agent, letting agent or bank manager. The rent must be the best obtainable - the diocesan solicitor will draw up the legal documents. The tenancy agreement must be signed by the tenant(s) before occupying the property, tenants must not be allowed into the property before signing the documents. The parish should contact the property team at least four weeks before tenants are due to move in to allow time to complete all the necessary documents and distribute them to the appropriate parties.
The diocesan solicitor will draw up a tenancy agreement based on the information supplied by the parish in the pro forma Assured Shorthold Tenancy Information Form (below). We recommend using the minimum tenancy period of six months, allowing the tenancy to run on beyond that on a month by month basis as a "periodic" tenancy - this has the advantage that the tenancy can be drawn to an end by the landlord giving two months' notice of termination. The earliest that notice may be given is at four months in order to give the minimum six month period. The tenant can give one month's notice. Although a tenancy is allowed to run on, rent should be reviewed annually on the anniversary date. If an increase is required, the diocesan Finance Office can issue a standard letter to the tenant(s) giving the new details. There is no need for a new agreement.
All parish land and buildings are vested in the Diocesan trust. The trustees make the ultimate decision whether to buy or sell land, iIn all instances, the diocesan Finance Office must be involved from the earliest stages. The disposal of land requires a Surveyor's Report to the trustees as set out in the Charities Act 2011 Section 119 and its Qualified Surveyors Report Regulations 1992. The property team will recommend a professional to provide this report.
All professionals, in particular: valuation surveyors, solicitors, and architects (if appropriate) will be diocesan appointments with their fees paid by the parish - this ensures a consistency in provision of advice. Instructions to these professionals always takes place through the diocesan property team. The parish will have a considerable involvement in buying or selling land; the parish priest will need to consult with his Parish Finance Committee, and depending on the land under consideration, the parish community may also need to be consulted.
As property owners, we must be vigilant against all forms of encroachment on to our land or buildings to prevent losing ownership through adverse possession. Neighbours might move boundary structures or construct an access to use our property for: inter alia, cultivation, animal husbandry, leisure amenity, development etc. Vehicles could be parked without permission in car parks or church grounds (if appropriate, a licence can be agreed to regulate car parking for rent) or travellers in illegal occupation could have to be evicted with inevitable litigation costs. In a similar way, we must take care not to permit any form of pedestrian or vehicular traffic route to be created across our property.
Boundary structures must be kept in good repair though the owner with responsibility is not always obvious. It is good practice to periodically “beat the bounds” of all parish properties noting any incursions on to our land or damage to the boundaries. If you have any concerns that part of the parish estate has been encroached upon, please contact our Chief Operating Officer,